Here’s a quick exercise for a sales meeting. Poll your team and ask them, “After your last presentation in which you DID NOT get a final answer, was your first follow-up done via phone or email? And be honest.”

If there are ten people on your staff, I’d put strong money that the answer you’ll get from AT LEAST 70% of them is “email.” We all know how ineffective the follow-up email is, yet I see sellers doing it time and time again… and it’s KILLING their chances of closing pending business. Email continues to be the path of least resistance for the reluctant seller, who doesn’t want to “bother the client.” It’s also a quick and easy way to get managers off their back…

Manager: “Hey Bill, did you follow up with ABC Tire & Brake after your meeting last week?”

AE: “Yup. Reached out to him yesterday… I’ll stay on ‘em.”

Manager walks away.

Just like that, you’re off the seller’s back and you’ve checked off your own box to follow up with them. The thing is, nothing has been done. Bill “reached out” with what was likely a passive follow-up email using “CHECKING IN” in the subject line. No phone call. No ability to converse. No way to read the tonality of the decision-maker or exhibit the same enthusiasm and belief they had during their presentation. And just that easily, the pitch fades away.

Here’s a real-life example that just happened: A seller I recently worked with had a diagnosis call and presentation with a Realtor. Strong Realtor. Big personality. Was very decisive about who she was, how much she wanted to spend, and what her brand should be. She just needed some guidance and our help. We presented to her on Monday and had everything but the signature… this thing was DONE! She just needed to run it by her husband. Tuesday goes by… no word. Wednesday goes by… no word. Thursday morning comes, and I ask the rep, “Did you talk to the Realtor? When are we going to get her production date secured?”

The response? “I sent her an email on Tuesday and she texted me that things this week got really crazy. I’m going to email her again today.”

Knowing this wasn’t going anywhere, I asked them to pick up the phone and call the Realtor and see what was going on. They did, and in 10 minutes they were able to uncover that it was the REALTOR (not the husband) who was still undecided. All the husband wanted to see was the method behind our strategy. So, the rep booked the appointment for that afternoon and they signed on the dotted line right then.

This close would NEVER have happened if the seller kept communicating via email. First, a Realtor doesn’t have time to go back and forth with email all day. Second, the seller could hear the reluctance in the Realtor’s voice on the phone (something we didn’t hear during the presentation). Lastly, the seller’s passion for the plan resold the Realtor to the point where she finally brought her husband in on the conversation and made him clear his afternoon schedule. All done with a 10-minute follow-up phone call.

Again, it’s simple protocol, but I guarantee the majority of sellers are not doing it. In following any pitch where a final decision wasn’t made, you MUST pick up the phone and call! We all know closing business “in the room” is getting tougher. So, our follow-up strategy must get stronger and direct conversations are MUCH stronger than email.

Margie Chilson is a Senior Marketing Consultant for JDA.media.

Her vast experience includes nearly three decades in broadcast television and digital sales marketing, working in and with multiple markets and affiliations including Dallas-Fort Worth at WFAA, Denver at KUSA-KTVD, KMGH, KWGN, and as a team manager at Millennium Television Sales.

Margie’s years as a local seller were award-winning and inspiration for her jump to JDA.media. She exceeded new business and digital goals on a consistent basis at Belo Corp., Scripps, Tribune, and TEGNA Inc. stations. A true innovator, Margie pioneered job-sharing positions in Dallas and Denver, balancing hectic work schedules and family, paving the way for working parents with careers in media sales.

Margie is well known and respected for her diligence, drive, and new business results. Due to her years in the business as an account executive and sales leader, she knows the station environment well and can easily relate to local sellers as well as the most senior managers.

An alum of Oklahoma State University who graduated with Honors in Journalism Advertising, Margie boasts an outstanding track record of helping business owners strategically grow their revenue through broadcast, streaming and digital solutions.

Margie and her husband Tim have been married for 23 years. The couple and their two children live in Littleton, CO, a suburb of Denver. Their son, Ryan, attends the University of Colorado Boulder, and their daughter, Mary, is in high school.  In their spare time, the Chilsons enjoy travel, hiking in the picturesque Rocky Mountains, cooking, watching movies, and cheering on their kids in various sporting events.