We’re sure you’ve heard of the saying, “Try and try until you succeed.” Well, in Sales, that could very well be: “Try seven times until you succeed.”
That's because in sales, there’s the so-called “Rule of Seven.” What does it mean? They say it takes an average of seven times (or seven touch points) before a lead is ready to take action—either they respond or buy.
And yet, most salespeople give up after the first follow-up, which is unfortunate. We do understand, though. Follow-ups are tricky, and they sometimes feel like a nuisance or an intrusion into the other person’s time.
However, you have to change your mindset because following up is very important in sales. Don’t think of it as annoying the customer. In fact, following up consistently and effectively can help up your game. Consider the data:
- 50% of all sales happen after the 5th contact, but most reps give up after just 2. (InsideSales)
- It takes 8 cold calls to reach a prospect. 72% of all sales calls aren’t answered. (Baylor University)
- 92% of sales pros give up after the 4th call, but 80% of prospects say no four times before they say yes. (MarketingDonut)
- 80% of sales are made by 20% of salespeople. The winners sell to the prospects the losers give up on. (Bill Corbin on LinkedIn)
- Only 2% of sales happen at the first meeting. (MarketingDonut)
- Stay vigilant. 83% of prospects who request info don’t buy for 3–12 months. (MarketingDonut)
- 70% of salespeople stop at one email. Yet if you send more emails, you’ve got a 25% chance to hear back. (YesWare)
There are many reasons why people do not respond. For one, they may not be ready to buy just yet. There may be no need—for now—for your product or service. They may also not have the budget yet.
It’s also possible that they are just plain busy. Life (and business) happens to all of us, and some prospects may not have the bandwidth to deal with you or even just have a conversation with you yet. It’s not at all impossible for them to get back to you after a few months, when their schedules are less erratic.
People also forget to respond because they’re too busy. And your follow-ups, if anything, will actually remind these people about your offer and maybe (hopefully) compel them to respond.
Don't be afraid or too embarrassed to follow up. Instead, consider following up as an opportunity to nurture the lead.
Here are some ways you can follow up professionally and efficiently:
1. Have a plan
Don’t go into doing follow-ups blindly. Have a plan. Build a thoughtful sales cadence, a timeline or sequence of sales activities, involving different touch points (email, phone call / voicemail, and social media), that sales professionals follow to engage and, hopefully, convert a lead. Here's how you can build one.
2. Consider frequency
Following up becomes annoying if you don’t give the client some breathing room. Give your client two to three days to “digest” your follow-up before you send the next one.
3. Ask client the best way to follow up
Once you get hold of your client, seize the opportunity to ask how to best follow up. What mode of communication does he prefer? Which day of the week and time of day would be best for him? It's considerate. It also shows the client that you have every intention to respect his time and space—and that you’re not out to annoy him throughout the process.
4. Until you know #3, use multiple touch points
If you haven’t touched base with a client and have no way of knowing his preferred method for the follow-ups, use multiple touch points in the meantime: phone, email, and even social media. You can automate some of the processes for efficiency.
Photo by Hannah Wei on Unsplash
5. Track your conversations
Be systematic when following up. Track all phone calls, emails, and messages you send, and monitor client’s responses as well. This way you know where you are in the conversations (and the pipeline). With a CRM, you can log in every phone call and email and input notes on the conversations.
6. Have a reason for calling
Don’t just do random phone calls with no clear intentions. Have a reason for calling. This is one reason it’s important to track all your conversations. When you know where you are in the conversations, you can plan your next step or follow-up.
7. Personalize all communications
When you personalize all your communications, it’s more thoughtful and valuable. Yes, we do mean addressing clients by their names in all emails and messages. But we don’t just mean that. Personalization also means sending content that is relevant to the client.
8. Be brief yet thorough
You know what’s an annoying follow-up? A lengthy, long and winding follow-up. Be concise. Do not waste your client’s time (and yours, too). This is why a plan is important: if you know exactly why you’re calling, you can strategize. You can write an incisive script prior to calling, for example. So you won’t babble away when following up.
9. Know when to stop
Sometimes complete silence means no. And a clear no definitely means no. Know when to stop and make it an amicable “breakup.” Sometimes the no can mean “no for now.” If you professionally “break up” with a lead, when they’re ready to say “yes,” they might just reach out to you. Besides, you can always revisit a lead in the future.
Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Unsplash