How Many Times Should You Follow Up With Prospects?

client follow up, sales follow up, sales cycle, savvy sales tips

Have you ever wondered how many times you should follow up with someone?

Have you ever worried you were coming off as pushy by asking someone multiple times to do business with you?

Maybe you've felt concerned you’d damage the relationship with your client if you pushed any further?

Well, you’re not alone.

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “How many times should I follow up with someone before I move from being helpful to annoying?”

The answer is, “It depends.”  I know, that answer sounds like a cop out. It’s not. Keep reading and you may find some real clarity in this question and how it relates to your business.

First, let me be crystal clear, follow up with every person who’s expressed interest in doing business with you. Following up is crucial to growing your business.

In truth, very few people actually follow up with prospects. Someone told me years ago on average only 1 in 4 leads are followed up on after an event. Even though I can't verify this statement, I suspect it's pretty accurate based on my own experience.

Second, not all prospects are created equal in terms of how much time and energy you should spend on earning their business.

Here’s 2 examples of potential clients I followed up with recently and the outcome of each to help clarify my views on how much follow up to do.

Example 1:

The first prospect was a wonderful woman I met at a networking event who expressed interest in having me do some training for her team. We scheduled a call to discuss the details. At 5 minutes past our scheduled time, she called to say she was too busy to keep the appointment and asked if we could reschedule.  She postponed the meeting 2 more times after that before we finally got on the phone to talk about her needs. During our call we discussed what exactly she was looking for and I offered to put together a proposal.  She agreed and before finishing our discussion, I asked to schedule a follow up call to answer any further questions and/or schedule the actual training.  We selected a time for the follow up.  A few hours before our scheduled call, she reached out and asked to reschedule for a week later.  We picked a new time. About an hour before the new scheduled follow up call, she left a message saying she wanted to postpone discussing this for a month or so and said I could call her to discuss it if I wanted too.  Now, I could have called her back but at this point I felt I'd already invested quite a bit of time in accommodating all of her scheduling issues. I sent her an email with an link to my calendar and let her know I'd be happy to chat with her when she's ready and encouraged her to schedule a time that would work for her schedule. I'm done chasing her. The ball’s now in her court.

Maybe she's interested but based on how many times other things have come up for her, I'm not convinced she's serious about working together. It's time for me to move on to other business building activities.

Example 2:

I met a woman at an event where I was speaking. She gave me a buying signal during our discussion and I invited her to schedule a strategy call with me to discuss working together. During our strategy call, she expressed some concerns about moving forward, money and time being her two biggest issues. She said she’d like to think about it.  I then asked her what I suggest you ask all of your clients when you get this response, “How much time would you like to think about it and let’s schedule a follow up call to close the loop on this one way or the other.”

Many times clients tell me when they get the response, “I'd like to think about it,” they take it as the client not being interested. I'd caution you from making this assumption.  Be willing to take it one step further and find out.

During our follow up call she again expressed money as being a concern and pretty much said “no” to working together. As I normally do, I asked a conditional close question regarding her objection around money. I was prepared to end our conversation and wish her well if she said “no” again. However, the response she gave was another potential buying signal so I invited her again to work with me. She hesitated and I prepared to end the call.  She then gave me another buying signal so I again offered her a solution and invited her to work with me. She then said, “Nikki, I was prepared to end this call with us not working together, however, you’ve been so kind and offered so many solutions. I do want to work with you. Let’s schedule our VIP day.”

So back to the original question, how much follow up should you do with a prospect.  You should do as much as they want or need you too in order to help them get what they want. You have to be prepared to walk away if you’re the only one invested in helping them achieve their goal. However, every time a client voices an objection and you offer a solution, if they stay engaged, you should as well. This can happen over the course of minutes, days, months or even years.

Your Savvy Sales Tip this week: Continue to follow up with prospects as long it takes when they're either asking questions, giving buying signals, or expressing interest in your product/service.

Client Follow Up, Prospects, Selling

Ultimately, you decide how much time and energy you want to put into earning someone's business.

Wishing you a successful week.

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