In our last blog post, we wrote about as heard in our most recent podcast but we saved the topic “How many times should you follow up with a lead” for this blog. It’s an age-old question that many entrepreneurs have struggled with and for good reason. You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity but you also don’t want to accidentally turn off a potential customer either.
I’m going to say this first though – there is no right answer.
Different entrepreneurs will tell you
different things, and different protocols, but it’s up to your discretion to
ultimately find a way that works best for you.
A rule of thumb that has helped us the most is to always follow up unless we get a hard no.
What’s a hard no? One that is firm and
This can look like:
“We are not interested in your
“We have hired someone internally to do
what you do,” or “We already have a similar product.”
"It's not a good fit for us."
But, and I stress this, even then there are still ways you
can get around the “No’s”
Keep in mind, although I mentioned that
there are no right answers, there are, however, the wrong answer and that is not
following up ever.
sales CRM for startups points out on his
that the number of follow-ups depends entirely on the previous interactions you
have had with a prospect. For example, if your touch point with a prospect was
via cold e-mail, you shouldn’t go beyond 2 follow-ups. However, if we have an
established relationship with a prospect, we can follow up until we get
contrasting advice from a campaign ran by Ambition. They sent 8 touches to each
of the targeted prospects – the opening e-mail plus 7 follow-ups.
Both approaches are correct in their
own right. Backed up by experience and with satisfying results which just
proves again that there is no 100% accurate strategy.
I like to say that the right strategy
is to follow up at least 7 times until you get a hard no.
You might be thinking “I don’t want to
sound obnoxious,” which is a valid point. Most people are busy with hundreds of
e-mails flying into their inboxes a day which makes it unlikely that they’ll be
paying attention to the first, second, third, or even fourth follow-up email
you send. Or maybe they are paying attention, but haven’t had the time to
respond. That last e-mail could be just the prompt they need to reach back out.
Take Sean’s example for North Digital,
he had been following up with a client for almost a year before the client
finally signed on.
Here’s how it played out. Originally,
Sean had met him at a
in person. A follow up information
meeting was set up rather quickly. Sean figured out what the client needed,
provided his proposal and received positive, encouraging feedback. It wasn’t
long before everything was ready to move forward. Instead of signing, he was faced
with total silence. For some reason or another, most likely stubbornness, Sean
kept following up.
Besides the silence, this client never
once indicated that he was uninterested. Every now and then Sean would call and
he would say something along the lines of “Hey, I’m really busy this week,
let’s talk next week.”
This went on for five months where Sean
was regularly checking in once a week. After that, it was once a month. After a
couple more months, he started to lose hope until he bumped into the client downtown
which prompted Sean to follow up again. A couple month later the client finally
said: “Okay, I’m ready to go, let’s do this, and he’s ready to sign.”
A lot of follow up can be automated too
as long as it is spaced out, and not repetitive. The key is not to reiterate
the same thing over and over but to check in with your lead to make sure you’re
still on the same page. There are so many factors that can influence a clients’
decision to sign or buy a product. Just because they can’t commit now, doesn’t
mean they won’t later.
“Good morning, I understand that Monday
is a busy time for you if it’s better for you let’s reschedule our meeting for
x and y.”
You always want to be respectful,
accommodating and understanding but actively trying to move forward in the
transaction. It’s ultimately up to you to gauge behavior. You also have to
remember – is this worth my time to pursue? How much time am I dedicating to
If they haven't heard back
from a call in two months, they put them into the cold group which
automatically sets the lead up on a six month follow up basis. This forms the
contact list for new sales hires to practice following up with. The ultimate
goal is to gauge when is a good or bad time to follow up. Whereas warm leads
are saved for the veteran sales folks.
So the key takeaway is to always follow
up unless you get a firm no. Use your own discretion to gauge interest levels,
and take that into account when you set up follow up calendar.
At the end of the day, what is the worst
that can happen?