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Why You Need to Follow Up More than You Think

by Stanley Sherman

The Power of Persistence
While “Never, never, never give up,” is a quotation frequently attributed to Winston Churchill, it’s actually more like the CliffsNotes® edition of a powerful speech he made at the Harrow School in England in 1941, the midst of World War II.

On that occasion, he said “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never —in nothing, great or small, large or petty. Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our school history, our songs, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.”

He goes on to say how because Britain did not give up in the face of daunting odds, the country, in essence, was still standing strong. For a little inspiration, listen to Churchill’s speech here.

Why You Need to Follow Up More than You Think
So, what does Churchill’s speech way back in the 40’s have to do with you?

While salespeople and business owners are not facing the fear of their lives being decimated by enemy forces, they could do with a little Churchill-like fortitude when it comes to persisting in developing business relationships that will help them to grow their sales.

It’s likely that the problem you face today is that you feel like you send endless emails and contstanly leave voicemail messages, and yet rarely do you receive a response. It’s understandable that you are frustrated by the indifference of the people you are contacting.

The truth is, however, the rules of engagement have changed.

Years ago the common wisdom was that it took thirteen no’s to get a yes. Although that sounds like a tough path to travel, in today’s multitasking, non-stop world, it takes an even greater effort to win a “yes.”

Many of the calls and other contacts you make are follow ups to the same person. Statistics show that 80 percent of sales require at least five follow-ups. So making five contacts is just the starting point. Also, the sale may not follow rapidly after you start to build a relationship. Twenty percent of people who request information about your company will take at least a year to buy.

The bottom line is: Don’t give up too soon. If you fail to persist beyond five follow-ups, you have an 80 percent chance of not making the sale.

So adjust your perspective. If you are bothered that you have contacted someone three or four times and have not heard back, realize that you are just warming up. Even after a prospect requests information, you may have to wait over a year before you close the deal.

Like Churchill, you need to persevere even when the odds appear to be against you. If you want to bring someone into your sales fold and retain them as a loyal customer, they need to hear from you forever.

Be Persistent Without Being a Pest
Following up does not mean banging on the door and constantly saying, “Are you ready to buy now?” Nor does it mean sending bland emails with “just following up” in the subject line.

What you need to do is to build your company’s brand by becoming a resource and creating a relationship. Send prospects an article that you think might be helpful to them. Develop an entrepreneurial sense of networking, and attend events where you might run into the right people. We call it “EntreprenateTM”.

Here is an example of how this commitment to following up has worked for me. When I was the head of the U.S. division of a Barcelona based commercial textile business, I wanted to build a relationship with a man called Don who ran the largest aftermarket marine products company. I contacted him again and again and sometimes saw him at industry events. After a while, he said to one of my customers,Who’s this guy Stan Sherman? I mean he just won’t let me alone. He always follows up. It isn’t about selling me. It’s about connecting with me and sharing their company’s story. He just continues to say ‘I’m going to be in Florida’ or ‘I’d like to tell you something more about us’.”

Don became one of our best customers. Today, after visiting Barcelona together and touring the country to sell his customer, we have not only a strong business relationship but also a friendship.

The moral of the story is that you need to keep your name in front of key individuals and connect with them on a continuous basis without making your outreach all about selling. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. People like to build relationships. They do not, however, like to be sold.

Never give up on doing some form of monthly marketing or outreach, whether it’s an e-newsletter, a holiday card, a personal email with a link to a relevant article, or a quick phone call. This practice will give you an advantage over your competitors because most will not contact their prospects on a consistent basis.

Mastering the Mechanics
You may have a marketing automation and/or customer relationship management system that makes it easy to follow up with prospects and clients without skipping a beat. If you do not have such a tool, however, it’s no excuse for giving up after two or three follow-ups. To make staying in contact easy, you can simply keep a list of people you want to stay in touch with and review it once a month.

The One Reason to Opt Out
There is one caveat to all this follow-up. As you work to build a relationship, you will likely develop a sense of which prospects are a good match and which are not. If you do not believe you’re going to be successful with someone, it is a good reason to move on.

Get Started on Building Relationships
So remember, with persistent follow up you can separate yourself and your organization from the competition, build relationships with prospects and grow your sales. Make sure you stay connected at least monthly to remain top of mind. When you do so, offer something of value. Do not push for the sale. It takes time.  In the end, what you give is what you get.

To learn more about The Propel Consulting Group, contact us now.