After running across this image about a year ago in Allan Dib's book, The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From The Crowd, I wasn't quite sure I believed it.
I mean, five or six contacts before your prospect even knows you exist? Thirteen until you have a customer? That seems crazy.
After all, for most of my sales career I was consistently giving up after the 1st or 2nd contact. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks- I was one of the 50% of salespeople that had been giving up after the first contact. And on a good day, I might have squeezed myself into the 65% category, giving up after only the 2nd contact.
But why was I giving up so soon? Why do most salespeople not follow up more often?
It was time to see if this “rule of thumb” was on-point as advertised.
So I started tracking every single attempt I made when contacting a new prospect, whether that was a phone call, email, text message, LinkedIn message, carrier pigeon, etc.
It took, on average, NINE contacts to schedule an appointment. In fact, two out of the first three leads I chased, I scheduled the appointment on the 9th contact.
So, what do those "contacts" look like?
Here is an example straight from my CRM tool:
- LinkedIn messaged prospect when I saw they started working for a customer of ours (no response)
- Phone call two days later (left message with receptionist, who put a sticky note on prospect's desk. Didn't receive a call back)
- Phone call a week later (left another message with receptionist, who put another sticky note on prospect's desk. Never got a call back)
- Phone call a week later. Prospect answered call but was in the middle of something. He asked me to email him some dates to meet.
- Sent email 5 minutes later with 3 options to meet (no response)
- Emailed again later that day with an update to my schedule (never heard back)
- Phone call two days later. Prospect picked up, but was in middle of something, again. He said he would call me back in an hour (he didn't)
- Phone call same day in the afternoon. He told me to call him on Friday.
- Called Friday and finally scheduled the appointment.
Count them up. Nine "touches" to set the appointment. And this all happened, including the meeting itself, in a matter of 3 weeks. When you start chasing down prospects with this speed and confidence, you will set yourself on to the path of success. Guaranteed.
So I'll ask the question again, WHY do we quit after the first or second contact?
I think it’s for multiple reasons. But the biggest reason for me was not having a solid way to track the touches. If you go off memory, you will forget to keep following up. You will think you have made more touches than you actually have. You will eventually tell yourself that this person just doesn't want to meet you.
Well, that last part is probably true, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Especially if you truly believe in your product or service.
One way to solve this problem is to start using some very basic sales pipeline software (we use a program called Pipedrive) to help manage your leads, contacts, touches, follow up calls, etc. A tool like this lets you easily track your past touches, schedule future activities, and really helps you stay on top of your contacts and follow up calls.
Instead of feeling defeated when no one will call you back or respond to your emails, it is now FUN to look and see that you have made eight contacts with your prospect, knowing you are probably one or two touches away from an appointment. You can even have a competition with someone on your team to see who can get to the most contacts before an appointment is set up.
I hope someday I can make it to 50!