NextGen Know-How: The Power of Follow-Through

female golfer following through swing in the rough in front of blue sky
Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CSP, CPCC Photo
Executive Coach/Consultant
Envision Excellence LLC

3 minutes

Consistently putting your words into action builds stronger employee relationships and business outcomes.

In February 2016, I was in Scottsdale, Arizona, for a week of training with my mentor, Jack Canfield. Jack was sharing his principles for success, and in one segment, he facilitated a session on the importance of asking for what you want. Jack shared some research on how many calls it takes to make a sale to a prospect that illuminated the fact that most salespeople quit following up before most prospects are ready to make a decision. Herbert True, a marketing specialist at Notre Dame University, found that:

  • 44% of all salespeople quit trying after the first call
  • 24% quit after the second call
  • 14% quit after the third call
  • 12% quit trying to sell their prospect after the fourth call

This means that 94% of all salespeople give up by the fourth call. But 60% of all sales are made after the fourth call. These oft-quoted statistics reveal that 94% of all salespeople don’t give themselves a chance at 60% of the prospective buyers. Success in sales is all about following up and following through.

We can learn a lot from this research about how to train our member service representatives to follow up with members—not only to book more loans or open more accounts, but to have the opportunity to create an exceptional member experience. Following up and following through is often the differentiator between mediocre service and excellent service.

The concept of follow-through is also an important quality of leadership and is one of the biggest differentiators of the most successful leaders. It’s often the small things we do or don’t do as leaders—things that may not seem very impactful in the moment—that chip away at the trust and commitment of our employees, as well as their perception of our integrity. Leaders who demonstrate follow-through by doing what they say they will do achieve better results and build more committed, cohesive teams.

According to Gallup, only 34% of American workers are engaged at work. (This is a high, believe it or not.) There is a huge opportunity for leaders to do a better job of creating connections with our employees to bring out their best performance. Engaged employees put more effort into their work—physical, mental and emotional effort—which leads to higher productivity.

Yet, many leaders prioritize other things above the relationships they have with their employees or colleagues. Canceling a coaching session with an employee, missing a deadline you promised a colleague, not getting back to your own supervisor when she asks for information, or simply not being responsive all contribute to a negative experience people have with you. Many leaders miss an opportunity every day to follow through in big and small ways that can make a huge difference in the quality of their relationships.

On the other hand, taking time to give an employee important feedback, walking around the office and connecting with your staff members, being responsive to requests and following through with both verbal and written commitments all contribute to building positive relationships.

Exceptional leaders treat leadership as a profession and a discipline, not a title or position.

Let’s say that again: Leadership is action, not a title. It requires constant cultivation. This means regularly connecting, supporting, providing direction and feedback, coaching, developing and appreciating. It means following through with our employees by meeting deadlines, keeping commitments and honoring our agreements. It can be tempting to put off our commitments to employees for other important activities or issues that come up and pull our attention away. But exceptional leaders understand that the most important relationships they have in business are with each of their employees. If you don’t make those relationships your most important priority, your employees won’t feel valued enough to make providing exceptional member service to your members their top priority.

It’s all about the follow-through. As a leader, your reputation is based on consistently putting your words into action.

Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR, is a certified executive coach, leadership consultant and founder of Envision Excellence LLC in the Washington, D.C., area. Her mission is to create exceptional cultures by teaching leaders how to be exceptional. Maddalena facilitates management and executive training programs and team-building sessions and speaks at leadership events. Prior to starting her business, she was an HR executive at a $450 million credit union. Contact her at 240.605.7940 or

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