It’s very rare that a salesperson closes a prospect on the very first contact. Unless you are working in a retail environment (even in that environment, it can be tricky), closing customers is usually a long process that can sometimes take weeks and even months. This is common knowledge because we all probably have experience with this in one form or another. If you currently work in sales, how many of your customers signed up and bought with you right there on the spot? Flipping it around, last time you were sold to, did you buy right there, or did you think about it and weigh your options?
Despite the knowledge that many closes don’t take place on the first contact, salespeople oftentimes give up early on in the process. A study by Dartnell Corp revealed that:
- 48 percent of salespeople won’t follow up after the first contact
- 72 percent stopped after the second contact
- 84 percent give up on a prospect after the third contact
- 90 percent wave the tap out after the fourth contact
That means that after the first initial “hello!”, half the salespeople will give up if a sale is not made.
Looking at these numbers, you can make the argument that following up with a prospect five or six times is a meaningless endeavor. After all, if a prospect is refusing to buy on the third or fourth attempt, that’s a pretty good indicator that they are simply not interested, right?
Only 10% (recent studies have shown that it’s more like 8%) of salespeople will make the fifth contact. Within the realm of 5+ contacts, an astonishing 80% of the sales are being made. That means that 8-10% of the salespeople are earning 80% of the sales. These are your top performers and sales wizards who always seem to smash their numbers every month. Skill has a lot to do with it, but so does having the discipline to follow up.
Why then, don’t people follow up as much as they should? Studies show that people don’t simply lack the discipline to follow up, but they simply don’t know how to follow up without feeling as if they are annoying the prospect. Here are some solid tips on following up with your prospects without annoying them.
Simply ask what the best way to follow up is
Prospects are just like you – they are usually very busy. For the most part, they just aren’t sitting around all day looking at their email waiting for salespeople to follow up with them. You might have a prospect who never even checks their email, but how would you know unless you ask? It’s important to ask the prospect what their preferred method of communication is. Some people love emails, while others will respond only to text messages. Some people only want to meet you in person. This will help you confidently follow-up without feeling as if you are using the wrong medium and will prevent you from feeling annoying.
Here is an example of a low-key way that you can ask:
You: Thank you for taking the time to meet with you. What would be the best way for me to reach back out to you? Is calling/emailing/texting ok
Set the expectations for a follow-up
One of the main reasons why people feel as if they are annoying prospects is that they never inform the prospect that they intend to follow up in the first place. Setting the expectation with the prospect that you will be following up with them is a great way to prevent the awkward feeling of annoyance on your part. If possible, try to give a general idea of when you intend to follow-up. If the prospect is into it, they will start to look at their calendar and see what works for them. Now, instead of an awkward follow-up, you have a proper sales meeting.
You: I know that you are very busy. Would it be alright if I gave you a call/text/came back over next week sometime to see what your thoughts are at that time?
Have a purpose in your meetings
Following-up with prospects isn’t just texting “Hey, just checking in!” to your prospects. As a professional salesperson, you should never just be “touching base.” You should have purpose in your meetings. Remember, prospects are busy too and won’t really have time to just have a general conversation with you.
You: The reason for me coming back over here is that I wanted to review the material that I proposed to you last week.
Remind the prospect of what happened during the last meeting
You might be the best problem solver in the world, but in the mind of a prospect, you’re just another salesperson out of the dozens that they see. Once you walk out that door, the prospect will probably forget a lot about what you spoke about. You did all that work discovering a need, but it’s meaningless if the prospect doesn’t even remember. That’s why it’s important to summarize everything in your CRM software so you can easily recall. Reminding the prospect is a great way to get back into the groove.
You: Last time, we spoke about your need to increase production by 23% to cover your additional overhead and your need to reach a more widespread market, does that ring a bell with you?
Make a friend
Above all else, making a friend should be one of your top priorities. People buy from those that they like. If you are 100% business all the time and don’t take the time to make a friend, you’re going to find that other, friendlier salespeople will win their business. Remember the little details about them – the names of their family members, their interests, etc. This will go a long way with them. People like to talk to their friends, so it will make following-up much easier (and more fun) for you!
You: How are your kids doing? I know that they went back to school recently – how are they liking it so far?
Following up doesn’t have to be this weird and awkward thing. Follow the above tips to help you be part of the 8-10% that close 80% of the business.
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Author: Jason Karaman
Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service author, blogger and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife. I enjoy reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to JasonKaraman@ExpertCaller.com