KEEPING CONNECTIONS FRESH
Business owner builds success by staying in touch
By Jim Kendall
This column originally appeared in the May 18, 2015 Daily Herald
Staying in touch – with prospects and referral sources, of course, but also with former clients – is important: The new business pipeline needs to be fed.
Ron Wajer knows how to stay in touch. What separates him is that he seems to genuinely enjoy doing so.
The good news is that Wajer’s stay-in-touch system is something the rest of us can copy. Matching his personal approach may be more difficult.
Wajer is president of Business Engineering, which deals with process improvement and strategic development and operates as a division of R. E. Wajer and Associates Inc., Northbrook.
Make no mistake. Staying in touch is intended to ultimately create a sale. Wajer occasionally even shares a flow chart – he is an engineer, after all – that helps make a discussion about his routine easier to follow.
Wajer describes his method as a “version of CRM software that I do manually,” but there are three Wajer-centric aspects of the follow-up process that are especially important:
* He keeps detailed records. Each individual’s contact data are entered on a 3 x 5 card where Wajer adds handwritten notes from every call. (Don’t let Wajer’s use of old school 3 x 5 cards fool you. His system has been successfully adapted to Outlook by a sales and marketing associate, but the cards work for Wajer.)
* Wajer’s follow-ups are personal. In fact, there may be nothing that better sets Wajer apart than the follow-up calls he makes. “I’m not asking for business,” Wajer says. “It’s more personal.”
For example, notes made during an earlier call allowed Wajer to remind a prospect that “You had to cancel our meeting last month” but add that the reason was “because your daughter’s dance recital was rescheduled for that afternoon” and then ask, “How was the performance?”
That’s not only an extremely gentle reminder, but Wajer seems to really care. He’s interested in the people he calls.
* He stays with the plan. Wajer has 300 or more cards, each representing a contact Wajer calls every four months. “I spend the same amount of time every week, every month” staying in touch, Wajer says. “The first of every month, I sort the cards so that I know, for example, that on March 15 I will call these people.
“No matter what happens, you’ve got to keep making those calls every day.”
That’s where many of us tend to fall away, although a simple suggestion Wajer and co-author Mark Akerley – president, Sigma Resource Group Inc., a LaGrange coaching consultancy – offered in their 2013 book, “Food for Thought,” might help.
“If you’re in doubt about a follow-up,” they wrote, “simply ask (your contact) ‘Is it all right to follow up with you? How soon would be appropriate?’
“When you do the follow-up, you not only have permission but the timing is comfortable for the other person.”