Scott’s Thoughts: Silence Kills

“Misunderstandings and neglect occasion more mischief in the world than even malice and wickedness.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)

Image of one silent mouth.When we’re feeling overwhelmed, one of the first areas of our business to suffer is the consistent care of our existing client list. We become so anxious for new business and so focused on handling the day’s most pressing fire that we neglect to reach out to those who were last year’s most pressing fire.

This is natural, and yet it is fatal to our careers. It is a well-cited fact that the acquisition of a new client costs at least 6 to 7 times more than retaining one. Why do we lose sight of this? Are we self-destructive?

Of course not. We’re just… busy. But the neglect of our contacts leads to misunderstandings, such as: “I guess she’s no longer in real estate.” And: “I suppose he only cared about me when I was selling my house.” When we surface again, after many months of neglect, our contacts think: “Oh, sure, only when you need a referral…”

From time to time I will simply pick up the phone to wish customers a happy birthday. Just the other day I had the pleasure of doing this. I picked up the phone at 8AM, about the time I knew a particular customer arrived at his office. I told him, “Just wanted to be one of the first to wish you a happy birthday.” He was pretty surprised, of course, and beyond the “just thinking of you” moment, I had a chance to catch up and see what was new in his life since we last chatted.

I didn’t pick up the phone because I knew it might result in a sale down the road. I picked up the phone because I know there’s no excuse for neglecting the people that matter in all areas of my life, from home to my desk at Oakley.

There are dozens of strategies for maintaining relationships, but the best I’ve ever encountered is setting consistent reminders to make the effort to communicate. Never let the silence take over.


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