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When is “too soon” too late?

This week, I’m waiting for responses to two pitches I’ve been invited to make, one to a software developers the other to a medical equipment suppliers. I’ve travelled to their premises, met key personnel, asked lots of questions, noticed lots of nodding in response to my initial suggestions and, at their request, have written up a recommendations report for their marketing and sales going forward.

As I left, we agreed that I’d send them the report in a day or so, and that I’d call them a day or so after that to take any questions or comments and that I hoped the next thing would be to agree budgets and start dates.

But even though I’ve even doing this a few years by now, I still worry in case I make the promised follow up call too soon, before they’ve had chance to fully absorb the contents of my marketing plans for them. I don’t want to come across as too pushy –or desperate! – but I do want to come across as committed and enthusiastic for their business.

And I worry, too, that if I don’t call them as agreed, I may miss the opportunity … our original conversation, meeting and recommendations may have faded from memory and it’ll be too late to revive their original interest in my services.

So my question is: does anyone have any experience or suggestion of when it’s too soon or too late to follow up on a pitch?

Comments (9)

Philip says:
August 27, 2015 at 9:46 am Reply

Nicola Ray, B2B Agency Leader | Marketing Strategist, Bristol:
I’d say be more assertive and direct on delivery and follow-up. That way, they’ll know you keep to your word and will deliver as specified. I’d also question if you’re giving away too much within your proposal?

Philip says:
August 27, 2015 at 9:46 am Reply

Nicola, you raise an interesting point about “giving too much away” in the proposal. Do you have any suggestion as to where the balance lies between being thorough and professional and demonstrating your knowledge/capacity …and “giving it all away”?

Philip says:
August 26, 2015 at 8:04 am Reply

Allan Duncan, Marketing & Sales Trainer & Consultant, Coach & Mentor, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire:
The one thing that struck me Philip was that you use the expression ‘ in a day or so’ for the deadlines of sending your recommendations and following up. I am always much more precise e.g. ‘My report will be with you by …. (under-promise and over-deliver on that date) – so I will telephone you on …. for your thoughts – is that OK?

Philip says:
August 25, 2015 at 10:54 am Reply

Adam Brenner, Managing Director at NPS Newcastle, Design Print Web, Newcastle upon Tyne:
If you’ve said you’ll call, stick to your original time frame. They can always say ‘please give me another week’ or however long they need. Either that or when you have the initial conversation ask the question: it’s Monday today – I’ll give you a call on Thursday?” – gives them a chance to say whether that’s going to fit with their time frame depending on what they have on that week

Philip says:
August 25, 2015 at 10:55 am Reply

I especially like the idea of getting them to volunteer when they want to receive the follow up call

Philip says:
August 25, 2015 at 10:43 am Reply

Jon Baily, B2B/B2C Marketer, Peterborough:
Hi Philip,

My experience is from the point of view of the prospect. When I have received a pitch it is normal to agree a follow up date. If I haven’t considered the pitch or gathered stakeholder feedback by that time I feel guilty of not fulfilling my responsibility.

If the supplier calls and as above I’m not ready, then I would request a later follow-up. But I would respect the fact that the call had been made on time. If the call isn’t made then it would be a mark against the company.

So, in my mind, whilst there isn’t a ‘too soon’ or ‘too late’ definitive time scale, follow-up calls should be made in the agreed time frame.

Philip says:
August 25, 2015 at 9:18 am Reply

Brian Austen, Business Development & Support to Pharmacists:
I always say I will provide proposal by dd/mm/yyyy and provide it day before or said date at latest. That way the only assumption they can make is that you are competent, effective and reliable.

Philip says:
August 25, 2015 at 9:18 am Reply

Thanks, Brian… but how/when/if do you follow up?

Philip says:
August 26, 2015 at 8:49 am Reply

Brian Austen, Business Development & Support to Pharmacists:
I will judge when to follow up on a previously discussed time table. If for some reason they fail to keep to their own agreed time table I will follow up, weekly, usually on a Monday morning. I have been known to extract myself from a project if I think it will not be satisfactorily completed due to lack of their commitment. I try to be patient but only to a point.

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