The Power of Follow-Through: The Key to Business Success & Growth

It’s the follow-through that makes the difference…

Always has been and always will be. I’ve proven this to myself time and time again. Impeccable follow-through is the coin-of-the-realm for every business, large, medium, or small. And yet, it’s one of the most elusive aspects of growing and scaling a solid foundation in business.

My Background

When I was in college, as a life-long entrepreneur, I knew that I had to have my own business. This was in Michigan, the Detroit area (where I was born). I needed a “job” that was flexible enough to prioritize my college course schedule, while I was also helping out with the family business and my four younger siblings, so that I could generate income “on the side”. 

I started selling cosmetics (if you are curious about the brand, leave a comment at the bottom and I’ll reveal which one – bonus points if you have heard of it).

That was my foray into the health & beauty industry. I built a pretty sizable team of more than 200 women who I trained to sell our products over more than 20 years. 

Where was Nimble back then? 

I sure could have used it, but that was before Nimble was “birthed”. My “little lipstick gig” grew to be an International skin care company purely by word-of-mouth. 

There was no social media then. 

When I sold a product, much like what we do today, using Nimble as a tool, I manually tracked each sale, and added follow-up dates and other notes about the customer and their exact purchase in my journal/calendar. I even jotted down details about the customer’s family, pets, and other things that I later came to know as demographics, geographics, psychographics (fancy marketing jargon, which I resist to this day – and yet, it has it’s “place”). These details helped me establish and grow long-term relationships with my customers. Today, even with very little follow-up, I still “sell” to some of those clients, only now, they order online and the company ships to them, so I don’t have to touch the products before they do.

What I have found over all my years of teaching, training, and consulting with global brands, collaborative teams, and entrepreneurs, is that extraordinary, detailed follow-through is a lost art.

Why is this the case? I’ve identified several reasons (now, don’t feel “convicted” if this is not you, and if it is, let’s discuss)…

  1. They don’t realize how critical it is to follow up with customers after-the-sale,
  2. They don’t know exactly how to follow up or what to focus on,
  3. Follow-up is confusing and they can’t seem to organize it
  4. They’ve tried some form of following-up, however, the ROI (Return On Investment) is tricky to track, so they don’t see the innate value in it.

In my younger days learning how to sell, I heard a quote that really stuck with me, and it goes something like this: “In life, as in golf, it’s the follow through that makes the difference”. You golfers will relate to this one. 

One of the aspects of business that I happen to specialize in is relationship marketing, on and offline. I build and scale relationships through my unique approach to business….I call it “True Community” building. And I teach collaborative teams to duplicate what I do. While it can be extremely nuanced, as growing and nurturing a relationship is, I believe that it can be taught. And, it’s also very fun for me to see others light up as they have ah-ha moments in their business that add to the excitement and passion for why they got into business in the first place. 

To address the above list of reasons “why” brands, teams, entrepreneurs miss on follow through, I’ll give an example of an immediate difference it made for me in those early years. Implementing “True Community” building back then convinced me to keep doing it. It was an instinct that drove me to practice and hone this skill better than almost any of my colleagues could do (yes, there were sales awards, and I earned my share over those years). I believe that skills can be learned, which is why I created my #ShowUpYOU program.

Here’s a specific example that anyone can do. It only works when you use a tool like Nimble to track it, because these are real-time conversations at play:

I sold the most premium package of skincare & cosmetic products (read: most expensive – over $200 at the time). Often, in a 90-minute in-person presentation, I was known to sell 3-4 of those packages. 

You can imagine, as a college student, this was a big boost for my financial freedom and my confidence! I was what we called back then a “closer”. And then I learned that “closing the deal” is never enough. It’s the follow-through that really makes the difference.

So, for every single sale, I’d make a note to follow up with a phone call to thank the customer (again) for their purchase, see how they were doing with the products, and if they had any questions. If they hadn’t yet taken the products out of the bag, this was their gentle reminder to do so (admit it, get real with me here…how often have you made a purchase and it sat unopened for a week or two?).

Early on, I can’t tell you how many of those customers who got what i called “Caring Calls” (and trained my sales team to do the same) said something like this:

“I love it, and I’d like to buy the same set for my _________(friend, sister, mom, aunt, grandma)”

Boom. I doubled my original sale with just one “Caring Call”. 

I was relentless about making sure that I did my own follow through and I taught my sales team to do the same. This generated sales for everyone, and my global cosmetics company was so impressed seeing my style of leadership that they brought me in to every conference to speak on stage, to motivate and inspire the sales women and men in the audiences, across the U.S. and even on company trips offshore (Bahamas, for example).

I rubbed shoulders with other sales trainers, and there was one in particular who didn’t speak at our conferences, but was a big influence on me through his books and videos. His name was Zig Ziglar (bonus points in the comments below if you know who that is).

Zig used to say, in his books and on stage:

Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.

I love today’s business world, with all the opportunities we have.

Since social media came into our lives as a tool to connect faster with others, personally and professionally, we have tools like Nimble to help us prepare and stay on track with every aspect of growing relationships that grow business. So, when those opportunities arise, and we’ve landed a new account, for example, we can grow from there to the extent that we are prepared with the “mechanics” needed to help us remember and track our contacts. In my sales days, we had (what I would consider a bit “trite” today) a mantra in our training that stated: Success is based on 90% enthusiasm and 10% mechanics. The meaning or translation of this has evolved for me over the years, however the nuance is the same: show up. I’m teaching and training my clients today to do just that, in my #ShowUpYOU cohorts for entrepreneurs, brands, collaborative teams, budding authors and writers.

What Happens When You Lose Focus? How Do We Recover?

When you are having those days when you are struggling to focus, or something has knocked you off course, I recommend one simple thing…pick up the phone, whatever that means to you (maybe pop a quick text even). Leave a message – very simply saying you are thinking of that person ——blah blah blah, you will know what to say. The main thing is that you are showing that you care, and people thrive on being acknowledged. This is one thing that will never change.

Zig Ziglar said:

Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” 

So, if you have five minutes, make a call. Internet down? 

Make a call. 

Social media interrupted? 

Make a call. 

Lacking direction? 

Make.That.Call….

When in Doubt, Reach Out. 

This will take you out of your head and into a relational space that can make all the difference. This is the essence of follow through, which builds True Community, regardless of demographics, geographics, psychographics. In fact, every single other factor that leads to your success in business is enhanced by this one skill: follow through.

In summary, and to drive home the impact you can make by upleveling one aspect of your business, I’d like to assure you right here and now that it’s true. In life as in golf, it’s the follow-through that makes the difference. 

How can I be so sure? From the feedback I receive consistently from my clients and their customers. Two words come to mind that will have you rise above, like cream to the top: surprise and delight. In my experience, follow-through is THE top missing ingredient in building successful business relationships (and inter/intrapersonal ones for that matter). In fact, it’s rare. Very rare. Often overlooked. 

By practicing various methods of follow-through, unique to you, you will become top-of-mind for your clients, so that when it’s time, they will return and refer you often.

You can’t buy that kind of advertising or advocacy. It’s a universal truth that solid relationships, built over time, are the coin-of-the-realm for us humans.

When you practice impeccable follow-through, you win, your clients, win, and those they refer to you also win. Triple W. 

What could be better, especially in today’s volatile world?