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Following up with Prospects, by John Chapin

    • 1402 posts
    February 11, 2021 4:43 PM PST

    Following Up with Prospects

    by John Chapin

    81% of sales and appointments are made after the fourth contact. 80% of salespeople never make it to the fourth contact. 

    Most salespeople give up way too quickly. And it’s usually with a plethora of excuses and stories they make up about why someone isn’t getting back to them. “They probably don’t want to hear from me”, “They probably already bought it from someone else”, “They’re probably too busy”, “They probably think I’m a pest.” Whatever excuse you come up with, or reason why you think they aren’t getting back to you, you’re wrong 95% of the time. Most people are just super-busy and several other things are yelling for their attention. Are some people no longer interested, or they’ve bought something else, or they think you’re a pest? Yes, but that’s the exception, not the rule. Most people simply have many other things going on that are distracting them from getting back to you or taking your call in the first place. 

    The reality is, you have to contact, and then follow-up with someone 9 to 13 times. And even after that, keep following up. Here are a few tips to make your follow-up more effective. 

    Give them a compelling reason to get back to you. There has to be at least one strong benefit or reason for someone to call you back. Answer the question: What’s in it for them to call you back and then answer that question in the opening of your call. 

    Treat every follow-up call like a cold call. This ties in with the point above. Picture the average person’s day. It’s filled with work, family, friends, and other interests, concerns, and urgent items. And yet we think that after a day, or even after a few hours of speaking with us, they’re going to remember us and 100% of what we said and still be in the same, exact frame of mind they were in when we talked to them last. People need to be reminded of why they were interested in talking to you, or should be interested in talking to you, to begin with. “Hi. Just following up as promised”, is not a compelling reason to talk to you or return your call. In fact, a lot of people will be thinking “Why did I agree to talk to them again?” Drop one to three of your biggest benefits in the opening of all your follow-up calls, e-mails, and other correspondence. “Hi Joe, it’ (your name), just following up on that new program we have that can save you up to 27% on your workers comp and save your staff four hours a week on paperwork…” 

    Give them new information. In addition to giving your top benefits, try to give people new, interesting information every time you talk to them. “Oh, one other thing I didn’t mention last time, our program is 100% tax deductible.” 

    Anytime you contact a prospect, or even a client for that matter, you want to be thinking “value.” How can you deliver value on the call? “I’ll also send out the latest whitepaper that will give you the top six ways people in your industry are saving time, effort, and energy.” 

    Use a variety of follow-up methods. Your follow up can consist of phone calls, in-person visits, mail, e-mail, text messages, social media, and perhaps even faxes. 

    Get creative. Puffy mail, baby shoes with “Just trying to get my foot in the door”, plastic skeletons with “This is me waiting for you to call me back”, and similar ideas can all be good, creative ways to get someone’s attention. Some analytic personality types may not be overly fond of these but most people you’re selling to will appreciate the creativity. Don’t worry about being cheesy, your objective is to stand out and get someone’s attention. 

    Continue to reach out to people. If you are unsuccessful with your 13 contacts, and assuming they are still a viable candidate for your product, continue to stay in touch. Especially if they use a competitive product currently. On the day the competition messes up, or they simply decide they need to do something regarding your product, you want them to think of you and have your contact information at that time. 

    Here are some follow-up rules: 

    • Get back to people as quickly as possible. Forget the 24-hour rule. Ideally you want to follow-up with people within an hour or two.
    • If possible, deliver all proposals within 24 hours.
    • Do what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it.
    • Ask when you should follow up and how they’d like you to follow up.
    • Always leave the ball in your court. It isn’t the prospects job to follow up with you.
    • If they say, “I’ll get back to you when I’m ready.” or something similar, say, “Okay, great. If I don’t hear back from you in two weeks, is it okay if I check in?” Even if they say, “That’s okay. I’ll get back to you when I’m ready.” Call back in two weeks and say you’re just following up as promised, and, of course, mention one to three big benefits.
    • Never send a follow-up e-mail without a follow-up phone call to at least let them know you sent an e-mail.
    • If you miss the promised follow-up time, follow up anyway.

    Persistence pays off. If you continue to stay in touch with, and follow-up with enough people, you’ll eventually make plenty of sales.


    John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker, coach, and trainer. For his free eBook: 30 Ideas to Double Sales and monthly article, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: ; John has over 33 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards). You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail:

    • 107 posts
    March 5, 2021 5:56 PM PST

    Here's how I see it:  Anybody that is a decisionmaker likely had a great deal of work and possibly sacrifice to get to where they are. A salesperson that is willing to work hard and sacrifice where needed to get to the goal is someone that has many of the same qualities as the decisionmaker. When it comes to who they want to work with, it is someone who has proven they stay after it, don't give up and see it through. Everyone else is the opportunist looking for the quick buy. You, on the other hand, build relationships based on trust that last way beyond the initial order. Show them you're not ordinary. Show them you don't give up. They'll at least respect you for it. As I've always said, if I can sell them, I at least want them to have good things to say about me.

    That journey begins with your creativity. Show them you out-think and out-work your competitors by truly working for their continued success.