There is a common misperception that I have recently observed. After talking with dozens of small business owners about their sales and marketing strategies, I’ve witnessed a reluctance for small business owners to follow up with prospective customers. The common reason is that they do not want to be viewed as pushy or aggressive, and if somebody does not respond to an email or phone call they simply aren’t interested.
This misperception is costing these small business owners a significant loss of business!
A single call or email is not nearly enough. Here are six reasons why a single touchpoint is not enough:
- The email you sent went to the recipients spam or Gmail Promotions folder and was never seen.
- The voicemail you left was inadvertently deleted before they could write down your phone number.
- The email you sent was seen, but the reader decided they’d come back to it later and left it in their Inbox. Unfortunately, they have 1,450 other emails in their Inbox too.
- The voicemail you left wasn’t heard. Neither were the other 15 messages that your prospective customer got that day.
- Your prospective customer heard your voicemail, and made a point of calling you the next day. But they wound up having an emergency at work and everything on their “to-do” list went out the window. They then forgot to transfer their list to the next day’s activities.
- They saw and ignored your email.
Other than item #6, none of the other issues are a reflection on you, it’s really about them and their available bandwidth. Truth be told, #6 isn’t about you either. People are busy and most people make a snap judgement about what to do with emails and voicemails from people they don’t already have a relationship with. In many cases, the person you are trying to reach is making a decision to respond within 5-10 seconds. Certainly not enough time to be thinking at all about you personally. It’s all about them.
Yet, the business owner takes all this personally and doesn’t want to be viewed as a “pest” by sending another email or calling again. My strategy? I make a point to “touch” a prospect 5 times over a 2 week period. I will vary my strategy – the first touch may be an email, the second a voicemail, then perhaps a LinkedIn request or a tweet. Then back to email.
Everybody has their own favorite way to communicate and no two people are the same.
On average, more than half the people you are prospecting will respond by the third touch point. This means that if you are giving up after one touchpoint, you are “losing” half of your potential customers.
Follow up is crucial to success. Small business owners also receive many daily cold calls that they get and don’t want to contribute to the noise/spam problem. But take a moment and think about why these solicitations annoy you: It’s typically because you’re getting calls from the same companies every day. That’s not you. You’re touching them every few days. And only 3-5 times before you stop. That’s not being a nuisance, that’s being a savvy businessperson.