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Calling leads - when do you stop calling? It Depends.

Recently, I read a great article talking about calling prospects.  The main point of the article was that not all leads were equal - you needed to mix it up when reaching out to potential clients.   One of the questions people often ask is how many times should a prospect be called before you give up and call it a dead lead.  The article said it depended on the size of the business.  Smaller business owners were able to make decisions quicker while larger organizations had "committees" or other parties involved that lengthened the process.

Whenever you hear people talk about what it takes to make a sale, you often hear that it takes 7 to 10 "touches" before getting to Yes.  This article talked specifically about calls, but I believe that meetings, emails, and marketing materials count as well.  When I work with clients to help them improve their sales process we talk about this very thing.  However, it occurred to me that I had not actually stepped back and looked at my own data to see if these numbers were right.  We spend all this time calling and emailing, recording what we said and documenting the results, but don't spend enough time going back analyzing what happened to look for trends.  

Being the data ninja that I am, I took this on as an aggressive project.  Here's what I did.  First, I looked at my custom dashboard that showed call histories to clients flagged as Prospects under ID/Status.  The sampling range I chose was 2 years - I wanted a broad sample size. Next, I used my "most" favorite new feature in ACT V16, the History view, and chose only system changes.  Using the keyword option, I searched for the from "Prospect" to "Customer"  phrase and that narrowed down clients that had converted to customers.  I exported that view along with the data from my dashboard to Excel - you all know how much I love to hack data.  I have been playing more with PowerPivot and this was a great opportunity to do some comparison analysis.  And lo and behold, I actually a saw a pattern.  The larger the account, the more calls it took - no surprise, I was expecting that.  What I wasn't expecting was the counts.  The article I read said 6 calls for small organizations and 10 for larger groups.  Those were the numbers I was questioning and my results matched "close enough for government work."

Not all of the "touches" were calls - some were direct meetings or emails - but there was definitely a commonality.  What may be up to debate is what constitutes "large versus small" and I must admit I made some executive decisions on size.  To me it came down to money - if the project was going to be over $10K they were considered large.   Here's where it gets even more interesting.  I isolated the group that didn't convert to customer and sent out an email saying that we had previously chatted, nothing had happened, and were they still interested.  Yikes - 4 customers responded with "I've been meaning to call you - thanks for reaching out."  Imagine what would happen in a business if you did this diligently, relentlessly, every single week.  Common sense tells me you would close more deals.  In this case, some inspiration drove me to some perspiration by drilling down into the data and I closed 4 more deals that probably would not have happened or would have languished into oblivion.

Moral of the story? Gee, I think there are several here.  Never stop reading articles on how to sell or prospect.  Test out the results of your efforts - make sure you are staying on track and on top of calling and reaching out to prospects.  There is truth in numbers - they don't lie nor does your data.  Ah, but you need to keep track of the data - sorry guys, yes, it's more work, but in the end it pays you back.  The more you touch or reach out to a prospect, the better the chance of closing the deal.

Patricia Egen Consulting, LLC

803 Creek Overlook, Chattanooga, TN 37415
Main office: 423-875-2652 • Arizona office: 480-788-7504 • Florida office: 754-300-2827