BD 101: A Lesson Learned About Commitment

by Scott - 6 Comments

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About 2 weeks ago, I realized I made a huge business development mistake that could have easily been avoided.


Rewind to mid-December: I connected with an ideal prospect via a cold call that told me to reach back out in the new year. Immediately following the call I made an annotation to call them back in the new year so that I remembered.

It’s early January. Jogging through my hitlist, I see the note and excitedly decide to reach back out. I start constructing an email that read “I just wanted to circle back on connecting like we chatted about on Dec 12th”….and then it hit me:

Someone who receives 40 cold calls a day like this person probably has no recollection of our interaction and their commitment to speak with me.

Though she verbally committed, I had no proof. A month later it might as well have not existed.

Why This Matters:

If you can get someone to commit to something (and have proof) they’re much more likely to cooperate. People don’t like going back on their word. Where I came up short was failing to establish proof of the commitment that I could call upon in the future.

How I Should Have Handled This:

Immediately following the call I should have sent an email along these lines:

“Hey X,

Great connecting a few minutes ago. Per your request, I will reach out to you in the New Year to talk about X,Y,Z like we spoke about. I look forward to chatting then.

-Scott”

Capturing her commitment digitally would have provided me leverage. After all, I was just complying with her request…I would have reached back out by replying to this email in order to make proof of her commitment as evident as possible (more on that technique here).

Though this example falls within the context of business development, this tactic can be applied to any dialogue. If someone makes a verbal commitment, it’s never a bad idea to create a digital record of it using email. You can leverage this asset to pressure someone to actually follow through on their promises.

How have you taken advantage of the power of commitment in your interactions? Please share in the comments

 

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6 comments, add to the conversation.

  1. Mahdad Taheri

    I think this is a great point and lesson. Having at least one piece of email communication between you, even if only from the prospect is where I always follow up from. Typically I’ll forward my original email (if I hadn’t received a response) and write something like “following up to my email a couple months ago…” so the prospect sees at least my commitment to my word if anything. If I have an old email from the prospect, I can respond to that email and use the “RE: … subject line” to continue where we left off. I can sometimes forget people who called me 2 weeks ago let alone after several months. There definitely needs to be a digital footprint to continue the march on if no face to face has been made yet.

    Reply

    1. ScottBritton

      Totally agree on all fronts after learning the hard way. I like the idea of including a RE: in the subject line to emphasize that this is a response. I’m definitely going to try that out. It’s a bit more passive-aggressive than merely replying to the email….which I obviously love : )

      Reply

  2. Doron Greenspan

    When cold calling to set up a call/meeting I try to make myself memorable by relaying a funny story that happened to me that morning or asking about their weekend/day so far/etc. Then I will reference that in my email follow up to add credibility and hopefully jog their memory.

    Reply

    1. ScottBritton

      That’s a great idea. Anything that humanizes you is always a positive. Thanks for sharing Doron – going to add this tactic to my quiver

      Reply

  3. Daniel Lopes

    Sometimes I write a note about something they have done, their work, or the product of their company.

    Per example, other day I talked with a bar manager to let me make there an event.
    Even though I had to cancel it for this date, at the end of the e-mail I praised the new brunch they are making every weekend.
    I think, having done this, is more likely that she will remember me on a next time.

    On the other hand, you need to be careful to not seem awkward.

    Reply

    1. ScottBritton

      I think a lot about creating repositories of things I can point to in the future so when I talk to people I have concrete evidence to back it up. It’s one reason I blog about experiences.

      The point you mention alludes to this. You could follow up this email to reference you’ve been there many times etc

      Reply

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