Sales · Strategic Partnerships

How do you balance persistent follow-up vs being annoying/rude?

ivan ner HR Manager at VR

October 4th, 2016

We all know how it is when it comes to making the sale. This is applied to sales, partnerships, fundraising, etc. How do you make it work and find a balance in between?

Arthur Lipper Chairman of British Far East Holdings Ltd.

October 5th, 2016

By providing the target with added value in each new contact.

Matthew Mellor EVP of Innovation at Zelis Healthcare

October 5th, 2016

After 3 attempts, give them the opportunity to get off the hook. "I know you're super busy. If you're interested in exploring this further, please contact me. I don't want to keep nagging you."

And then move on to the next prospect. It's about managing your time. If they are interested, they'll reach out to you. If they are not, no amount of nagging will change that.

Kai Larson Principal Consultant at SalesOnward

October 5th, 2016

Depends on if it is follow up from a call, or if you are prospecting into a list. 

If the person has shown some interest, but is not responding, you can put them on a drip list to stay front of mind. First send them a note letting them know you will no longer follow up personally, but you are going to put them on the drip list. Sometimes this spurs people to respond with a positive as they see you are frustrated, others will respond and ask you not to put them on the list. 

If you are prospecting, the key is to have a very targeted list of folks you KNOW should be interested. A campaign to a good list should include 10-13 "touches." These touches are a series of emails and voicemails that are each a little different and offer some little nugget of info. It takes on average 10 times before people respond. If your value is good, and your list targeted, most people will appreciate the persistence.

Paul Gallo CEO at First US Advisors Inc., M&A and Capital Raising

October 5th, 2016

I agree with Matthew Mellor - give them a chance to say "no thanks". But to add to that - ask yourself a very real question - do you have a product of service that will really benefit the prospect (you've done your research, right?) and if you provide tangible value to them, keep at it a while longer - and let them know why you have not moved on - because you are convinced they will not regard the 15-minute overview as a waste of their time.  "In fact - why not designate someone who reports to you as the audience for my 15-minute request - I'm comfortable that if I can't help them see the value, then I won't bother you again".  If nothing else, you've got an "underling" to try to turn into an internal-champion for your cause.  I have never felt the need for an initial meeting with the CEO - if I can get in front of someone he/she trusts, then I am one step closer to my face-to-face with the CEO - because we all know you need to get in front of the real decision maker to complete your sale.  But be gracious - and let them know "even 10 minutes of your time can make a difference in your bottom line" - just don't chit chat - get on with it when you 10-minute audience is approved.  Give that CEO a 5-minute mini presentation - then you've got five minutes to encourage him to agree to another meeting where he/she can be exposed to more meaty-info about how this will benefit his/her bottom line. Still - be emotionally ready for more "nos" than "yeses" - and as Matthew pointed out, manage your time - get past this prospect and onto new ones.

Tom McDonald SMB Technology Leader / Cloud Computing Consultant / Small Business IT CEO / Managed IT Service Provider in CT

October 5th, 2016

Matthew Mellor is spot on.  
3 Strikes and into a drip (automated or manual) campaign.
Get onto that next opportunity.  
When they have the pain you relieve  - you want them to pick up the phone and call.

The key is using the time in our day, in the most effective and useful manner to grow business.

Joseph Wang Chief Science Officer at Bitquant Research Laboratories

October 6th, 2016

Focus on making the sale, and realize that any time you spend on a lead that goes nowhere is time that is wasted pursuing a lead that actually will go anywhere.

Once you've reached then point that further contact will make it *less* likely that the person involved will respond to you, then you are in a downward spiral, and it's better to move on.

I've found a few tricks that seem to have been useful.....

One thing that I've found particularly useful is to talk to the person responsible for sales and business development in an organization (i.e. the person that you pestering is the person that is responsible for pestering you). Conversations that are "salesman to salesman" turn out to be particularly useful, since it turns out that we end up trying to figure out how we can come up with something that we can both make money from and then pitch to our bosses. One reason that "salesman to salesman" conversations also tend to be useful is that we can both be pretty honest with each other than something is doing nowhere.

"Salesman to salesman" conversations are useful because there is an equal exchange.  They spend time and effort trying to listen to me sell something to them, because I'm spending my time listening to them sell something to me.

Another useful thing is to just have a lot of business leads. When I end up at a conference, I usually end up with about 20 to 30 business cards, and I just don't have time or energy to talk to anyone that doesn't respond. One thing that I've found is that if I get my hopes on with "one big lead" then I put a lot of energy into something or someone that is likely to go nowhere, whereas if I just talk to lots of people, I'm so focused on the leads that will go somewhere that I just don't have time or energy to be annoying. (I should point that that figuring this out was something that I learned in college when it came to dating.)

Finally, some of this is figuring out how to accept harsh reality. Maybe the reason that things are going nowhere is because the product isn't very good or that the market isn't there. One thing that is useful is to just give up making the sale and just try to find out exactly why they don't like the product so that you can fix it.

John OHanlon Owner of Banks Printers

October 5th, 2016

I use the old fashioned method of posting a 'thank you' card to the person I spoke to. It has a very high strike rate for making a sale on further communication. Simply thank them for affording you their time to put over your product. John O'Hanlon *Banks Printers * John O'Hanlon, 13 Church Road, Banks, Southport PR9 8ET Tel/Fax: 01704 229697 Home: 01704 232620 Mobile: 07717 518167

Vinuth Tulasi Member of Technical Staff at Stealth Mode Storage Startup

October 5th, 2016

Two or three follow ups will never be annoying. If it is more than that, it is time to think. Is that the product is not impact full or the customer is not willing to.
If you are confident on the product and its impact then you know the answer. Stop any more follow ups.

Rob G

October 5th, 2016

be straight forward and give them options... "is it OK if i follow up again in the future"? If your communication is via phone this works well.  If via email then give them a checkbox or 2 "follow up with me next month __" ,  "follow up with me next week",   "you should follow up with someone else on my team  (a link to enter another email linked to their email so you can provide a referral),  or "thanks, but i'm not interested" (provide a link to adjust frequency of followup or opt out).  

David M

October 5th, 2016

A combination of Arthur's and Matthew's responses. Show progression each time you contact them. While I like the "never accept no for an answer" M.O, the reality is if you are not getting responses, consider every minute or hour focussed on someone who is not responsive, is time spent away from someone who might be. After that, every six months it can't hurt to keep in touch.

As for the newsletter suggestion, quarterly maybe. Most who are sending out newsletters weekly are probably spending more time writing news letters than anything else and probably has little to offer! In fact I just started getting one I'm about to block because it is so darn annoying!