Lesson 6: Dealing with Objections and Following Up
To keep things simple, let’s define the successful outcome of networking as hearing “here’s an offer in writing; you start tomorrow.”’
Let’s define failure as “I can never, ever help you.”
Only in these two situations would you not follow up with someone. The gray area between success and failure is huge! And this grey area comes with a lot of objections. In this lesson, we’re going to discuss how to overcome all the different sorts of objections you will run into when networking.
Remember – one of the key things that separates someone who networks successfully from someone who networks unsuccessfully is the follow-up.
Now there’s a right and a wrong way to do this. The wrong way would take up a lot of your contact’s time, it would put pressure on them, it would be invasive, and it would make them feel less than completely comfortable.
Let’s talk about how to address objections, the right way. We should never, ever throw out someone who objects and say “okay you’re no longer useful to me; goodbye.” Instead, we should help them help us – however they can – and then show them what their Return on Investment is through follow-ups (I’ll tell you what I mean by that in a second), all while looking elsewhere for other people to put in our pyramid.
Here’s the pyramid again:
“We don’t have an opening right now.”
If you hear this during an information interview, you can say – “not a problem, what other companies do you recommend that I look into that do this type of work?” and then “Would you be able to refer me to someone who works there?” Or you can ask “What other resources should I look into if I wanted to apply to similar companies?”
If you get an email with this objection, you should ask your contact a very easy yes/no question based on whatever you’ve been discussing so far. So, for example, you could say, “Thank you so much for letting me know. Based on what we’ve discussed so far, it seems like the best step for me right now to improve my chances of working in a company like yours would be to sign up for the PMP credential. Would you say that’s fair?” This gives your contact the chance to give you some other form of mental investment in your career. The reason you want to ask a yes/no question to folks that are speaking to you via email instead of asking them a more open-ended question is because while it’s easy to get a response to an open-ended question if you’re on the phone, it can be difficult to do that if you’re speaking via email.
And the reason we still want people to give you that “mental investment” is that you can incorporate that into your follow-ups. And the reason we want to do that is that following up with them multiple times will ensure that you’re top-of-mind when they do see a relevant role has opened up.
“I don’t know the answer to your question.”
Response: Something along the lines of, “no problem, do you know someone who does?” but it should be easy for your contact to answer this question without thinking. For example, you could ask “no problem. Would you say reaching out to someone in your sales team would be a better idea for me?” and if you get the response “yes,” you can say “who would you recommend that I reach out to?” We grease the wheel with the first yes/no question and then ask them to invest a slightly bigger piece of information. And then, when you reach out to that person in the sales team, you can drop your initial contact’s name and that will improve your response rate.
Two-part formula for addressing objections
1. Make it easy for the contact to help you – do re-grease your wheel with a yes/no question if you are communicating via email.
2. Take whatever they give you. If they give you information, follow up with them later letting them know you found it useful. If they give you a referral, follow up with them later letting them know how your new contact is doing, and so on.
What should I say in my follow up?
If in “I” phase
We talked already about how to follow up with people in the “I” phase if they are being unresponsive – simply remove all friction to their response by making your question a yes/no question. See the template pack here for ideas.
If in “R” phase
If your contact is in the R phase and they’ve given you some sort of support, for example, if they’ve shown you a cool website you can follow to learn more about your industry, do follow up letting them know that you took their advice, even if they are being unresponsive. Your second follow-up can let them know that you are exploring similar websites and what other resources this website led you to. You can ask a follow-up question in your third follow up if you like – just see how the flow of your conversation is going so far. You can check out my template pack for some examples and ideas. The follow-up templates begin at the bottom of page 11.
Just make sure each one of your follow-up notes takes up less than 5 seconds of your contact’s consciousness. Any more, and you might be seen as a bit invasive. But do follow up at least once a month with your “R’s” to let them know what you have done with their advice – their investment.
If you’d like my input on your follow-up note, email the note to me at email@example.com.
One of my favorite ways to follow up is to write my contact a LinkedIn recommendation, and just in case they aren’t very active on LinkedIn, pasting my recommendation in an email and asking them if they’d like me to make any changes.
You should also follow up whenever the following happens:
◻ Your contact information changes.
◻ Your employment status has changed.
◻ You’ve completed a certification.
◻ When you have a “hard” question (bottom of page 8 in the template pack).
Of course, I encourage you to tailor the messages in the template pack so it fits your conversation and speaking style. Make sure you avoid making your contact feel somehow responsible for your success with your job search or otherwise putting too much pressure on them. We want to make it so that interacting with us is easy; we don’t want to come across as sleazy.
(It’s taking all my willpower to not break into a full-on rap including the words “cheesy,” “breezy,” and “wheezy.” I know that would make you queasy.)
Now let’s say it’s been four months. You are still looking for a job. You’ve been feeding people into your pyramid and casting a wide, wide net with your networking, but you still aren’t hearing back. Is it time to worry?
Not necessarily. The average job search in the United States lasts seven months for non-management roles, and nine to twelve months depending on the industry for director- and executive-level job seekers. If you are networking aggressively, you should start seeing positive responses by the three-month point. If you’ve been actively applying and it’s been longer than three months, do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can figure out what to do for your unique case.
How not to follow up
⌧ Mass Email. Make sure your follow-up email is specific to the person you are reaching out to. Try, as much as possible, to integrate bits of whatever you have discussed.
⌧ I’m still looking! There’s no “easy” way to respond to these emails.
⌧ Guilt: “THIS IS MY THIRD EMAIL TO YOU!” This is just bad manners. Again, there’s no “easy” way to respond to these messages.
⌧ Too much, too soon. Following up in a few days is smart when you’re first getting to know someone. After that, even if you do get responses, you may be outstaying your welcome in your contact’s inbox. Space follow-ups a month apart.