Whenever I am invited to speak about prospecting and lead generation I always get the same question. “How many times should I follow up before I give up on a prospect?” It’s usually followed by the statement; “I don’t want to annoy the person or seem to be pushy.”
The answer to this question is quite simple. If it’s a new prospect you should follow up until you have either a “yes, I’m interested in doing business with you or no, I don’t want to do business to you.” Remember, a no may mean a “no” at this particular time. In the future they may be in a different situation and open to your products or services.
One of the sales people I coached; I’ll call him Paul, decided he wanted to connect with very well know multi-national retailer in hopes they would carry his product. He called the company 4 times and did not get anywhere. The point to remember is he was not able to find the person who could make a yes or no decision as to whether the retailer could sell his product. He spoke to 4 people that informed him they were not the right person to connect with but no one said, “Go away”.
It quickly became a challenge for Paul. He would call a different person or department at the retailer and he continued to find out who could not make a decision about the products he had to offer. Four calls soon became 10 calls, then 20, 30 and 40. Finally at 43 phone calls to the company he found the right person and they were very interested in his products. After a few meetings and a presentation to the right person, he had a signed deal. The first order was valued at over $200,000.
Paul’s persistence turned constant rejection, from people who did not have the authority to make a business decision into an initial order that helped his company land their biggest single account.
Should Paul have given up after 2-3 phone calls? Most other sales people would have abandoned the prospecting long before it got to 10 calls little own 43 calls. Paul believed in his product and the value it would provide to the retail chain.
Every day I get calls from sales people, sometime they leave a voice mail, but 99% of the time they never follow up past that first contact.
If you have a viable business reason for contacting a prospect then you should make it your mandate to continue your follow up until you are either told they are not interested or they become a customer.
According to studies 50% of sales people give up after the first call (I’m willing to bet in many cases that’s a very low estimate) and less than 5% of sales people make it beyond 5 attempts to connect with a prospect. Yet the studies show that it can take over 10 contact attempts before you will get any a success.
“Success doesn’t come to you; you go to it.” ― T. Scott McLeod
If you are looking for ideas on how to improve your selling process check the B2B Sales resource centre. If you need help generating more leads and converting more of your prospects into customers consider investing in a business mentor.
Coaching Client Testimonial:
“Bob you are the missing piece that I have spent the last 2 ½ years looking for. You really nailed it and understand what I need for my business growth.” G. Anderson, President, Toronto ON