There’s a difference between being persistent and being a pest!
“What’s a reasonable amount of follow-up?” “If I’m not getting a response, when should I give up?” “Am I jeopardizing the sale if I’m too persistent?” These are all questions that often come up in our Power Prospecting workshop. How often to contact a prospect is a complex subject and one that I hope to clear up for you. Let’s take a deeper look at this issue.
The effort required to connect with someone, especially by phone, is dramatically greater today than it was even a few years ago. In the mid-90’s, just when voicemail was becoming commonplace, a business person could expect to connect to another business person 22% of the time or just shy of 1 in 5 times. Today, that number has jumped to 1 in 7. With the daily tsunami of email, getting people to respond by phone is more difficult than ever. This adds up to salespeople getting pushed to the bottom of the priority list in the business world.
To get someone’s attention and raise the level of urgency requires more frequent contact attempts than most salespeople are initially comfortable with. I think you’ll agree that proper business etiquette is to return voicemails within a day. For this reason, if you don’t connect live and instead, have to leave a voicemail, I recommend you give your prospective customer a day or so to return it. It’s helpful to set the expectation in your voicemail by saying something like, “If you don’t have a chance to get back to me in the next couple of days, I’ll try you again at your desk on Thursday morning.” When you call them on Thursday, this does a couple of things for you. First, it separates you from some salespeople in that you kept your promise. Second, your prospect will quickly understand that you’re going to be persistent in a polite, professional way.
A popular mistake by some salespeople is the mind reading they do of their prospect. “Gee, they haven’t called me back so I guess that means they aren’t interested. I don’t want to annoy them.” This assumption is very wrong. In the vast majority of cases, your prospects are busy people, just like you are, and unfortunately, returning sales calls falls to the bottom of their to-do list. When you eventually do connect, you will find that your polite persistence will most often generate a response something like, “I got your voicemails. I’m really sorry I haven’t called you back. We’ve just been crazy busy around here.” Frankly, I’ve made over 3000 prospecting calls since founding Northbound and I’ve only had one person ever say, “If I were interested, I would have called you back.” That’s right … ONE! Just last week, I finally got through to two prospective customers who I had left several voicemails and emails with. Did they say, “Michael, you are annoying me. I’m obviously not interested.” Not at all. In fact, both of them apologized profusely for not getting back to me and I booked meetings with each of them.
Polite, professional persistence is what often separates low performers from the great ones.
Your actions this week:
- Mix up your contact methods with prospects you’re trying to connect with this week. Use a combination of voicemail, email, LinkedIn messages, hand written notes, personal visits, even fax! You’ll see that it increases your response.
- Keep careful track of your contact attempts along with dates. Try to get at least 2 contact attempts in per week and don’t give up until you’ve tried at least 7 times.
Northbound’s “Connecting to Mr. Big Cheese” workshop teaches you a proven system to connect with high level decision makers and motivate them to want to meet. To learn more or for pricing, contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416.456.1440.