12 ways to get your prospects to call you back
Here are 12 key ideas to help you stand up, stand out and make your clients want to return your calls:
1. The fine line between persistence and stalking.
Don’t give up – but don’t call prospects twice a day, either. The trick is to call consistently and when you leave a message, say precisely when you will call them back – and stick to it. Try something like: “If I don’t hear from you by Wednesday, I’ll call you back on Thursday.” You will get more return calls because the prospects know that you will call them again if they don’t get in touch.
Most experts agree that it takes at least 4 attempts to reach your prospect. Realistically, that number can be closer to 8 and if the prospect is a real prize, then you may have to be patient and make multiple calls over a period of weeks or months.
2. Let them off the hook.
In a voice or email, it’s a good idea to tell a prospect that’s it’s OK for them to say no.
Say something like: “If you’ve chosen to go with a different product / service, then that’s okay. Please let me know and I will stop following-up”. Then, one of two things will happen – they will either call you back and say, yes, we’ve chosen someone else, or they’ll say no, we haven’t made a decision yet, and apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Either way, you now you know what is happening.
3. Send a handwritten note.
Sending a handwritten note or letter after your first sales call 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. They have an effect on people that yet another voice or email doesn’t.
4. Put them on auto-drip.
If you’ve tried everything you can think of and still can’t get through and you aren’t quite ready to give up entirely, put the prospect on auto-drip – send them something interesting and of value (not promos) every month or quarter. This will help to keep you in mind for when the time is right for them to make a decision or look for a supplier.
5. Ask if they’re OK.
This is an excellent idea by voice or email to drum up a response from clients who have unexpectedly gone silent. It can be straight or humorous.
This very simple approach works because it’s different and/or fun and you will receive immediate responses from previously silent contacts. Many start off by apologising, saying that they’ve been buried in work and then going into detail about why they are still interested. If they don’t respond, they are either on a really long holiday, or aren’t interested, so don’t wasting more time on them.
6. Create a deadline.
After every conversation, gain agreement as to next step and the action date. So, when the time comes for the follow-up call and the prospect doesn’t answer, 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, left a message or sent an email. Then these dates can be mentioned in a subsequent message, such as: “When we last emailed on Feb 1st, we agreed that I would…”
8. Separate the facts from your imagination.
Try to find out what is really going on, rather than what you simply think or assume is happening. The following 3-step voice mail strategy works because it increases your chances of getting a return call, and it always gets you to the truth:
VOICE MAIL 1: “Mr. X, this is John Brown from ABC Company. Paul Smith suggested I call you because… Sorry I missed you today, but I’ll try to reach you again on DATE and TIME.”
Make sure your tone is soft, non-threatening and friendly. It’s critical that you do call back on the date and time that you say.
VOICE MAIL 2: “Hi Mr. X, this is John Brown from ABC Company calling because I promised to phone you today at TIME. Sorry I missed you. Paul Smith suggested I call you because… I’ll try you again on DATE and TIME.”
Again, it is critical that you call back exactly when you said you would. Anything else would result in your being less than honest, and risk losing your contact’s confidence.
VOICE MAIL 3: “Hi Mr. X, this is John Brown at ABC Company calling, because I promised to phone you today at TIME. Sorry I missed you. I notice that you’ve been difficult to reach and I’m wondering if that’s either because you’re really busy, or you aren’t interested in doing business with us. Have I been guessing the wrong times you might be at your desk? Could you let me know what to do now? I promised Paul Smith I would be in touch with you and that I would get back to him about our conversation. My number is 0207 100 1000, ex 111.”
The last reason for not reaching the prospect – that you’ve been wrong at guessing the times they might be at their desk – is important because it lets you take ownership of why you can’t reach the customer. You can change the other two reasons based on your specific sales situation.
9. Call early or late in the day.
One of the ways to follow up with senior-level DMs is to call either quite early in the morning (around 8am) or late in the day (after 5.30pm), but without leaving a message if you don’t get hold of the prospect. At these times, the DMs are often alone in the office without a gatekeeper, and therefore more likely to pick up calls themselves.
10. Change your media.
If a prospect hasn’t responded to an email you sent, call to ask them if it was received. It may be in their SPAM box. Do the same if they haven’t responded to a phone call – send them an email.
The trick is to find out which communication tool is easier for them. Some people tell customers on their voice mail messages that they will send them an email as well in case that is better for them. Then on emails, say that they will be calling in case that is more suitable. This increases chances of reaching the prospect and shows that you’re putting their interests first.
11. Prepare for the “Final Approach.”
Whether in voice or email, when you’re ready to write off an uncommunicative prospect, let them know that this will be the final attempt to reach them. Try something like:
“I notice that it’s been X weeks since we last spoke, and I’m assuming that’s because you not interested in our product / service. I do understand that we don’t fit everyone. The last thing I want to be is a nuisance. If you’re still interested, please call me on 0207 100 1000. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll assume that you are moving in a different direction. I wish you all the best on your project and thank you for considering us.”
12. Have some fun – and take a risk!
This approach is different, and sometimes works with good results:
“Hi Rob, this is GXXX from ABC Corporation. I’m beginning to feel that we have a love-hate relationship with your answering machine – I love to leave messages, you hate to return them. Maybe we can talk soon. Thanks.”
Yes, it’s odd, but some people say that 99% of the time they get a call back – but only uses this approach on the most desperate cases.
Your challenge for the week is to try something new! After all, if what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working, what have you got to lose – especially with those prospects who’ve been silent for a while?