If you are like many business development people out there, chances are you have asked yourself (either consciously or subconsciously) these questions:
- “When should I follow-up with that lead?”
- “How many times should I follow-up?”
- “How long should I wait before following up again?”
You want to be aggressive, but you don’t want to be ‘one of those sales people’.
Other things also pop up on your “to-do” list and the next thing you know, three weeks have passed and you feel as if you are starting all over again.
At FRONTLINE Selling, we help sales people turn leads into first appointments. In fact, we built a software solution to do just that.Thirteen years ago, we began to ask many questions about successful prospecting. We initiated a study of 1.8 million outreach efforts.To control the study, each outreach effort had the same goal (to set up a sales appointment with a prospect genuinely interested in the topic/business problem the solution addresses) and all accounts represented an Ideal Client Profile (ICP).
The study revealed some interesting conclusions.We will discuss three that pertain to the topic of this blog.
- “The Gatekeeper” – the first and perhaps most interesting conclusion revolves around administrative assistants. Those that engaged the famed “gatekeeper” were much more successful in getting appointments with the key player than those who did not.“How” they engaged with the gatekeeper made a huge difference.Those who performed dramatically better followed up more consistently and engaged the administrative assistants in a more straightforward, congenial and collaborative way.In other words, they treated the “gatekeeper” as an ally and included them in the process to reach the right key players.
- Follow-up Interval – We studied everything from twice daily follow-up to monthly. We found the optimum interval to follow-up with a key player (and/or their admin) was every three business days. The study suggested that three business days was a perfect balance of not too much and not too little.
- How many times to follow-up – Most sales people will only make one prospecting call to a key player. Fewer will call two times. There are only four responses you can get from a prospecting call:
- Yes, I am the right person and interested
- No, I am not the right person
- No, I am not interested
- No response at all
Number 4 is the winner by a landside.In fact, over 93% fall into this category.Most sales people confuse a lack of response with a lack of interest. If you do, you are creating an unforced error.
Just as there are many of you who would like to comment on this blog post, most end up getting busy doing something else; the people you are reaching out to do very much the same.They intended to call you back, but just got sidetracked with the next urgent matter.
The study revealed that unless the response falls into 1 through 3 above, you should do your 3-day follow-up a total of five times before you reach the point of diminishing returns.You will find very few people will actually tell you “no”.
Of course “your actual mileage may vary” and there are exceptions to every rule. For example, if an administrative assistant asks you to call back tomorrow, that supersedes the 3-day rule. By turning your “gatekeeper” into a tour guide, following up with a key player every three business days and doing that up to 5 times; you will statistically improve your results.
Make these three changes in your prospecting process, follow them consistently, every single time, and you’ll experience significant change. Remember the old adage; “If you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting the results you always have.”
If you’d like to learn more, download one of our eBooks by clicking here.