How often do you follow-up with your leads?

One of the most common questions I get asked – or overhear others asking a trade shows and conferences – has always been “How often should I follow-up with my leads?”  A valid question for sure — but certainly not the most important if your goal is to close more deals.   If that’s the case, then the question you should be asking is “How many times should I be following up with my leads?“.

A frequently re-told statistics in sales is that “80% of sales happen between the 5th and 12th contact, yet only 12% of sales people follow-up with their leads more than 3 times”.  Here’s a historic breakdown of those numbers:

2%  of sales are made on the 1st contact
3%  of sales are made on the 2nd contact
5%  of sales are made on the 3rd contact
10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
80% of sales are made on the 5th-12th contact

According to those very simple, and time-tested statistics, the only thing any other sales rep needs to do in order to increase the number of deals that close is stay in touch with their leads more often (not more frequently).  Simply finding ways to continue the conversations, continually offering relevant pieces of information or engaging in a genuine relationship with your leads will always - ALWAYS – result in you selling more!

It’s sounds easy, right?  Well, then why isn’t it part of everyone’s sales process?  Let me show you why this becomes a nearly impossible feat when managed manually.  To do so, here are some simple numbers from a previous workplace.

At Sales Organization XYZ we had 3 inbound sales reps.  Our marketing machine was generating approx. 60 qualified leads (hot) every month and these leads were split evenly   Sales Organization XYZ also generated approx 240 download leads (warm) that we often ignored by the sales reps who were busy managing their hot leads; in hopes they would return in the hot funnel.

To recap, each sales manager would received, on average, every month:

  • 20 hot leads
  • 80 warm leads – ignored

So, let’s take a look at the ‘touches’ that each sales rep would be required to have with their hot leads starting January 1st.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Hot 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240

According to the table above, by December of year #1 our sales resp would each have to e-mail or phone 240 people to maintain their efforts of reaching every lead up-to 12 times.  That’s not too bad — assuming they had no other responsibilities – as it’s less than 10 contacts a day…  However, what happens when we start seeing some results and want to also contact all of our warm leads?

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Hot&Warm 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 1100 1200

Well, that’s getting a little more difficult to manage, isn’t it?  Each rep would need to reach out to 1200 people in December, and of those 1200 only 100 of them would have been contacted 12 times.

I won’t bore you with another table, but just imagine what those numbers would look like once we include:

  • Contact with our existing customers
  • Leads that rolled over from last year (assuming our reps weren’t brand new on Jan 1st)
  • Other daily tasks, organizational (management) and other e-mail

The numbers just become too much for any one person to handle and the typical outcome is that our sales reps would go running to the marketing team begging for some sort of automation campaign.

This is where things really get interesting.  Marketing automation is great at hitting numbers — like a sales rep who only focussed on hitting his or her targets — but it lacks that true human touch that is required to create a bond with customers.

So, what can be done?  Well, for starters there are great tool like Sellingy that can help remind you who’s due for a touch, allow you to send mass-emails and generally help optimize this whole process.  There are also a slew of CRMs that have tasks and reminders that might be useful.

The truth is however, that there’s no magic solution.  If you want to sell more — and be a top performing rep — it’s up to you to find what works within your own process. It may be a combination of technology, ingenuity or brute force. As long as you’re staying in touch with your leads more than your competitors (and you’re selling something of value) chances are you’ll be able to close more deals this year than any previous year.

The key to remember is that selling is part science and part art.  On this blog, along with promoting upcoming features of Sellingly, we’re going to start exploring both sides of selling in an attempt to maximize the potential of every individual sales rep.  Join us in 2013 as we explore the science of selling and the art of sales!




Dan    |  Reply

Agreed. Staying in relevant contact is a must…dogging some prospects and nipping their heels into action needed too. The trick is who to fire and never call again, who to chase weekly and who to supply to up to date content. The pros know the answers to those action plans. I’d be happy to share my pro tricks if anyone is curious.

Roger G    |  Reply

dan, would love to learn more about your pro tips..please..that would be awesome

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