The most important thing in cold calling is the follow-up. If you do not follow up consistently and mercilessly until you have received a clear Yes or No, 90% of all the work you have invested in cold calling, in your first meetings and product demonstrations is lost!
As long as you haven’t heard a clear NO from your potential customer, you have to follow up absurdly often.
Why are follow-ups so critical?
People have all kinds of things going on, and a single email or phone call from you can quickly get lost. Imagine your contact has, at the very moment you’re trying to reach them:
- 6 missed calls
- 4 voicemail messages
- 73 unread emails in the inbox
- 2 project deadlines
- 1 employee meeting
- 1 new hire
- 1 sick child at home
An email or missed call can quickly get lost in the day-to-day. Not everything in your prospect’s life revolves around your email and call.
So unless you’ve received an explicit no, you have to assume that something unknown has come up.
As salespeople, we can’t take this personally because without feedback, we NEVER know what’s really going on in each other’s lives. Another example to illustrate this:
- Maybe he got into a car accident.
- Maybe he had to stave off bankruptcy.
- Maybe he had to focus on a round of financing.
- Maybe two key employees quit and now work is falling on him.
- Maybe his mother or cat died.
- Maybe his child is sick.
- Maybe our email ended up in the spam folder.
- Maybe our call from his phone has been marked as spam
- Maybe he has been sick in bed for 2 weeks
Whatever it is, we don’t know.
Just because someone hasn’t gotten back to us doesn’t mean they’re no longer interested!
For you as a salesperson, that means you sometimes have to do 45 emails and 23 phone calls until you reach your customer again.
What I often use is an alternating sequence of emails and phone calls: Email → Call → Email → Call, etc.
And many times you’ll hear: “Oh, thank you for getting back to me! It’s been a bit of a washout here at the company. However, we want to continue to address this, so please let us find a date in a timely manner.”
Can you do too many follow-ups?
I think the answer to this question is two-fold.
By email? No!
By phone? Possibly.
If someone calls me three times a day, then one day I’ll block their phone number and think to myself, “What a pain in the ass! If working together looks anything like this, I’d rather not have anything to do with this guy.”
An email, on the other hand, is non-intrusive. We receive dozens or hundreds of emails every day. A friendly follow-up is never too much.
With emails, it’s more important to pay attention to the sequence – depending on the situation, you can vary it, for example: the first follow-up after one day, then after 4 days, then after 8 days, then after 14 days, then monthly.
Unfortunately, most salespeople and especially founders do one follow-up too little, so the question of doing too many follow-ups doesn’t even arise.
I’ve wondered myself what that could be caused by.
I think that many people are assuming that someone who doesn’t follow up simply isn’t interested anymore – which is usually not true – or one is afraid of losing sympathy points by following up too often.
Well, sympathy or not. The more important question, of course, is: what is the price of not following up, or not following up enough?
Let’s say we have ten leads. If we now worry about what the person will think of us if we follow up often and are afraid of losing sympathy points as a result, then we might only close one deal with only one of these ten persons.
If, on the other hand, we accept that we will lose a few sympathy points with two of these ten people, then because of our follow-ups, we will close a sale with four out of ten people instead of just one.
It is up to you to decide whether the sympathy points of individual people or the turnover and growth of your company is more important to you.
Follow-up on Quotes
Obviously, you also should follow up after you’ve sent out quotes, and it’s better to do it a little sooner than too late!
If you sent your offer by email, it’s best to call a day or two later. If you sent the offer by postal mail, call three to four days later.
You should deliberately call in a timely manner because the offer is still fresh, and therefore the person is still remembering it.
You must make a phone call and don’t send an email! It is critical to follow up only by phone because only by phone you can respond directly to possible objections or misunderstandings!
If you follow up by email and get a rejection, the email will have a resounding “no” in it. This is difficult to dispute in retrospect. In the phone call, on the other hand, you can directly address the sore point, remove the obstacle so that you can still get the deal done.
If someone opens my emails but doesn’t reply, there is a little trick I like to use.
If someone really doesn’t answer your emails and doesn’t take your calls, you write that person one last email. The subject of your last email is literally “My last email”.
Here you emphasize in two to three sentences that you are disappointed that the contact has been cut off and that you are eagerly awaiting to hear from him when he is ready.
I estimate that 50% of the time, the person gets a guilty feeling and realizes: “Damn, now I’ve put it off for so long and still haven’t replied to him” so he responds to you and apologizes for the delay in replying.
Of course, this doesn’t always work. Even if you don’t get a response to your last email, you should save another follow-up in your CRM, only this time a little further in the future. For example, a follow-up call in 6 or 9 months.
In this follow-up break, you can use LinkedIn as a helpful tool.
Add the person to your network or follow them on LinkedIn or also on Twitter.
Actively leave meaningful and quality comments on the person’s posts, and like them.
This way, this person, will not forget you, during your follow-up break, and will immediately think of you, when he is thinking about a solution for his problem.
By the time you actively contact him again after 6 or 9 months, you are no longer an unknown person who cold calls, but an “acquaintance” and he will be happy to hear from you.
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