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June 19, 2018

How Many Times Should a Sales Rep Follow-up? Here’s the REAL Answer…

With over 30 years of sales and marketing experience, I have seen countless articles and graphics detailing what the author thought was the ’right’ number of sales follow-up touches. They write as though success is inevitable – if (and when) you get to that “magic number” of follow-ups.

One of the images I’ve seen most often is this one (source unknown)…

And while the intent of information like that is on target, the fact is, there is not a “magic number” of follow-ups that definitively guarantees you’ll close the sale – or that you’ll even get a yes/no response. But there is a “magic mindset” that can help. Read on…

The following scenario has played out hundreds of times – in different industries and with different services lines & products – since I first got involved in professional sales more than 25 years ago. It happens something like this…

You connect with a prospective client and schedule an exploratory call. That call goes well, so you’re invited back for a more in-depth conversation (and perhaps a capabilities presentation). This also goes well, resulting in a proposal being requested.

You pull your resources together, craft a beautiful proposal, send it in and [pause]… crickets! Nada! Nuthin’! Complete silence!

It’s infuriating! THE CLIENT requested the proposal and yet THE CLIENT doesn’t respond when asked for feedback. So, you follow-up every few days looking (and hoping!) for some sort of response.

Most of the time – and here’s the heart of the problem – you give up after 2 or 3 follow-up touches, assuming that their lack of communication means they’re not interested or don’t like the proposal.

And often, it does. But not always.

Sometimes, other things just take precedence… they’re waiting on a colleague to return from a trip to weigh in on your proposal… they’re dealing with a significant HR or financial issue… or (more likely), they got dragged into a client project that went sideways.

So, what should you do in this situation? [This is where the “magic mindset” can really pay dividends.] How many follow-up touches does it really take? The answer… “just one more.”

  • When you’re frustrated at the prospect’s lack of response, make just one more call.
  • When you feel like you’re wasting your time, send just one more email.
  • When you’re about to give up, reach out just one more time.
  • When you’re sure the answer is ‘no’ – even though you’ve not heard back from the prospect – give it just one more try.

The key is to keep at it until you get an answer. Other than few minutes of your time, what have you got to lose? And I promise, your persistence will pay off.

And even if the answer you finally get is ‘no,’ at least then you’ll know for sure, and can cross that prospect off your list.

Ineffective and stopping-too-soon follow-up is the #1 cause of lost opportunities in Sales. Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t give up too soon. Be mentally tough. Be resilient. Be persistent.

So, when it’s time for you to follow-up on a sales opportunity, remember: Just. One. More.

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