Recently, I contacted someone who I had worked with a while ago about a business engagement I had for him. He had started a consulting business exactly in the area of specialty I needed. The stars seemed to align. I needed someone with whom I was familiar and who could hit the ground running. This engagement would help him also build additional credibility for his rising business. It appeared, at least on paper, to be a win-win.
I connected via email with him and suggested we talk...quickly...to nail down the specifics. Time was of the essence! Working together would be exciting! The job could be his...isn't that music to any entrepreneur's ears!
And then he did what any salesperson should never do. He outsourced the sale. How? By simply stating that his "assistant" would contact me to set something up to discuss further. You guessed it...I never heard from the assistant. And yet I had already pre-qualified myself as a sales lead and was ready to issue a purchase order. That is the definition of "low-hanging fruit'.
What happened? I don't know and, frankly, didn't have the time to care. By not following up with me (in whatever fashion), the lesson spoke volumes. With a delivery date for myself looming large, I gave the business to another service provider (always have a Plan B) who worked hard to understand my needs and gave quality quick turn-arounds. That company performed remarkably throughout the project and will likely get other engagements.
It's easy in our harried and frenetic world to delegate stuff to other people, to the reminder app on our phones or to a piece of paper. Just remember: don't delegate sales. They are the lifeblood of your business!