I was sipping a large frosty glass of beer in the hotel lobby, getting ready to head home after speaking about business growth for a group of entrepreneurs. That’s when Chris approached me.
“Can I ask you a question,” he said tentatively. “I’m stumped about what to do about this situation I’m in.”
I encouraged him to tell me more. Here’s his story:
I was recently in a meeting with an executive for a large hospital group. I’d been referred in by a mutual connection, which immediately positioned me as a credible resource.
When we met, I really hit it off with this executive. I asked her lots of questions. She shared some confidential information. And, because I’d dealt with similar issues when I worked in the medical field, I had lots of ideas about how to address the challenge.
It was a great meeting. She thanked me for my time and said she needed to think about what we’d talked about.
My initial reaction was that he’d probably spilled the beans too quickly. That’s one of the most common problems I see. But honestly, he convinced me otherwise. They really had a solid peer-to-peer conversation. So I asked him, “What’s the problem?”
“That was three weeks ago and I haven’t heard from her since,” he confessed. “What should I be doing?”
Chris said that he’d called and emailed several times, mentioning that he was touching base or wanted to know her thoughts. As Chris saw the expression on my face, he justified his follow-up strategy, “I don’t want to be too pushy.”
How holding back holds you back
If I’ve heard that response once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. No one wants to be pushy. I don’t want to be pushy. But there’s a big difference between being pushy and being professional.
That’s when I decided it was time to turn the tables on Chris — to get him to think “as if” he were his prospect. Here’s what I said:
Let’s say you were the decision-maker. You’d just met with a savvy business person who truly understood your situation. You were impressed — and even relieved — because a solid resource had appeared.
Here’s my big question, Chris. If you, as an executive, met this savvy person, what would you expect him or her to do next?
He looked at me thoughtfully. “I’d follow up—but I don’t want to be pushy. It might turn her off.”