I’ve seen a number of things posted on social media recently, along the lines of ‘the more follow ups you have, the better”‘ and ‘x amount of sales are made on the nth follow up’….
Now, whilst some of the implied messages behind these can be quite useful (‘salespeople should pick up the phone more’, ‘every quote should be followed up’, most salespeople give up too easily’), there’s actually a danger in following them too closely.
In fact, there’s one particular one that’s been ‘doing the rounds’ again recently, the one about how many contacts it can take to make a sale….
Unfortunately when you do a little ‘digging’ on this, it turns out it was completely made up! 🙁
There is no such association as the ‘National Sales Executive Association’, and these particular statistics have been debunked numerous times, yet it still doesn’t stop people sharing it as if it’s ‘true’ – even when it’s not!
It’s almost as if we ‘want’ it to be true, to justify all the follow ups that we do!!
So here are some reasons why it can be ‘dangerous’ to take this study at face value (even if you didn’t know it was false until now).
That’s probably the biggest point. It implies ‘more is better’. In other words, the more follow ups you do, the better you’ll do in sales.
And the problem with that? It’s not necessarily true.
As an example, if you’re contacting new prospects, let’s say you don’t do your job properly on your first contact and don’t uncover any needs the prospect may have for your product/service, you don’t get them to admit/notice that they may well be interested in a further conversation, and manage to set the ‘next steps’ by the end of that interaction.
You’re now going to have to do ‘more’ follow ups to that prospect, than if you’d put more work in earlier in the process, so that wouldn’t be needed as much! And most of the follow ups in that circumstance would be the dreaded ‘keeping in touch’ follow ups.
The world definitely doesn’t need any more of those!
So in this circumstance, ‘less’ is actually better!
And this is a VERY important point!
Good salespeople will evaluate/qualify both the prospects, and the potential sales opportunity, to know whether it is worth following up at all! And if it is, when, how and why they should do that!
And as early in the process as possible!
And if you truly want to maximise your time as a salesperson, you need to be able to quickly identify REAL prospects from people that will waste your time.
You see, some prospects might have little or no intention of using you or your company, but they need your proposal, in order to give them a comparison with the other suppliers they truly are considering. Therefore they will still take you all the way through your sales process, talk to you, meet with you, ask you to submit a quotation or full proposal. But with no intention of using you.
These prospects will suck you time, suck your energy and chip away at your ‘sales esteem’ (your self-esteem in relation to your sales role). You need to identify them as quickly as possible, not only not to waste your time, but to avoid the ‘endless follow up’ trap that also hurts your sales esteem.
The other thing to consider when you’re having to do lots of follow ups, is how annoying you can become to prospects if you try and do too many to one person!
Lots of follow up to one person (without anything fresh to say to them) ends up with lots of calls that are basically ‘how are things?’ or ‘has anything changed since we last spoke?’ or ‘any new feedback for me?’.
You already know the reaction to those you of calls is going to be terrible. So why are you still doing them?
Most salespeople end up doing these because they have to have an update on their ‘pipeline’, or their manager has asked them to get one! Yet, because the earlier part of the sales process wasn’t handled well enough, we end up with these ‘pointless’ call backs, that run the risk of just annoying prospects!
If we handled the earlier part of the sales process better, most of the follow ups wouldn’t be necessary. Because we would already know the next steps, and have arranged call-backs booked in, not just random ‘keeping in touch’ calls!
Follow the steps above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing about your future sales!