No matter how persuasive, compelling or brilliant you may be, it’s difficult to build a relationship with a prospect if you can’t get them to call you back. Here are 6 of the best ideas we’ve found to help you stand up, stand out and make your clients want to return your calls:
1. The fine line between persistence and stalking.
I rarely ever give up. That being said, I don’t call my prospects twice a day, either. The trick is to call consistently, and if you leave a message, tell the customer precisely when you will call them back – and then stick to it. I usually say something like: “If I don’t hear from you by March 15th, I’ll call you back on the 16th.” I get return calls more often, because my prospects know that I will be calling them if they don’t get in touch with me.
Most experts agree that it takes at least 4 attempts to reach your prospect. Realistically, I find that number can be closer to 8. But some of my best customers today are those who I was initially the most patient with, and to whom I made multiple calls over a period of weeks, or even months.
2. Send a handwritten note.
Sending a handwritten note after your first sales call or presentation will dramatically increase your chances of getting a return call. Why? Because a handwritten note increases your likeability, helps make the prospect feel good about you and encourages them to take your calls.
3. Put them on auto-drip.
If you’ve tried everything you can think of and still can’t seem to get through, but you aren’t quite ready to give up entirely, put the prospect on auto-drip, and send them something interesting and of value (not simply advertisements) every month or quarter. This will help to keep you top of mind for when the time is right for them to make a decision, or go looking for a supplier. For more tips on how to stay in touch without straying into stalking territory, check out our article, The Fine Line Between Persistence – and Stalking!
4. Create a deadline.
After every conversation, you should gain agreement from the prospect as to next steps, and the date they will be accomplished. That way, when the time for the follow-up call comes around and the prospect doesn’t show up, you can leave a message like: “I’m calling because the last time we spoke, we agreed to chat today about….”
Reminding them of your agreement will help move them to call you back. If they don’t return your call in a couple of days, keep calling, and gently remind them of your mutual agreement.
7. Keep track of who hasn’t answered.
Document each call or email in your CRM, so you can remember when you last spoke with, left a message for or sent an email to a client. You can then bring up those dates in a subsequent message, such as: “When we last emailed on Feb 1st, we agreed that I would…”
5. Call early or late in the day.
One of the ways I follow up with senior-level decision makers is to call either quite early in the morning (say around 7:30am) or late in the day (after 5pm), without leaving a message if I don’t get a person. I’ve found that, by calling at these times, the decision makers are often alone in the office without a gatekeeper, and therefore more likely to pick up calls themselves.
6. Change your media.
If a prospect hasn’t responded to an email you sent within 5 business days, call to ask them if they received it. Likewise, if they haven’t responded to a phone call, send them an email. Everyone has their own preferred way to communicate. Your job is to find out which communication tool is easier for the prospect.
Here’s your challenge: try something new this week! After all, what you’ve been doing so far hasn’t been working, so what have you got to lose – especially with those prospects who’ve been silent for a while anyway?