Keep Calling Potential Customers

You sometimes have to overcome a fear of rejection to build your client list

The majority of people who sell for service companies don’t take follow-up seriously. After talking with a prospect, they leave one follow-up voicemail message or send one e-mail. A few salespeople will take it a step further and call or e-mail one additional time, but hearing that someone followed up three, four, five, six or seven times is rare.

However, that’s exactly how many times you must follow up to get someone’s attention. That’s right, seven follow-ups are critical if you want to be successful. Whether you’re calling on restaurants to win grease trap servicing jobs or potential commercial pumping accounts, many calls may be necessary to grab that new business.

The excuses for lack of follow-up are plentiful: “I’m too busy,” “I need to spend my time in front of new prospects, not chasing down possibilities,” “I left the person a voicemail; now it’s their turn to call me.” All those excuses are nonsense! The real reason people don’t follow up is because they’re terrified of rejection.

People have a fear of getting hung up on. They’re afraid the prospect is going to tell them, “Go away! Stop bothering me!” If you’re ready to overcome the fear of rejection and start building your account list, keep the following suggestions in mind.

QTIP (Quit Taking It Personally).

Remember they’re not rejecting you; they’re rejecting your product or service. Here’s proof: Imagine a wizard waved his magic wand and said to you, “For the next 12 hours any phone call you make, any person you meet, and any encounter you have you will get a ‘yes’ answer.” How many follow-up phone calls would you make that day? You would have absolutely no fear of picking up that phone if you knew there was a “yes” on the line.

But what happens? You’re talking with someone and you get a “no.” At that point you need to remember it takes a certain number of negative responses before you get the positive one. The number will vary depending on your product and industry. However, every time you get a “no,” say, “Great! Now I’m one phone call closer to my ‘yes.’ ”

Finally, consider this: Does the person on the other end of the line — the one who is saying “no” — really know you? Of course not! He’s rejecting your product, not you. Stop taking it personally, pick up the phone, and have some F.U.N. (Follow Up Now).

Never assume.

Although they have great products, are very intelligent, and can even pronounce peoples’ names correctly, most salespeople fear they’re going to annoy prospects if they follow up. That’s why after they leave one voicemail and get no reply, they assume that the prospect is not interested.

The reason people aren’t getting back to you — even after four or five e-mails — is not because they aren’t interested; it’s simply that they are busy. Therefore, following up is not about nagging; rather, it is about reminding. Realize that people today are bombarded with technology and information. Their minds are going in 50 different directions at once. It’s only natural that they need a bit of reminding about your products.

Do you know the average person’s short-term memory is between five and 60 seconds? That means when someone is listening to five voicemails in the car and hasn’t written the messages down, her short-term memory of 60 seconds guarantees that she won’t remember your call. This is just one more reason to remind people that you contacted them earlier.

Additionally, stuff happens. People lose their cell phones; they get sick; technology glitches happen and voicemails or e-mails disappear; and sometimes, people just forget. When you assume that someone isn’t interested or assume that you’re bothering them or assume they don’t have the money or make any number of other assumptions, you’re sabotaging yourself and your company.

Besides, if you believe you have a product or service your client needs to know about, following up should not be an issue. After all, you’re doing them a favor by reminding them of your offering. Many prospects will even thank you for your follow-up.

It’s never “no.” It’s just “not yet.”

Very often a prospect will turn you down repeatedly — sometimes for years — and then suddenly the “no’’ will turn to a “yes.’’ That’s because no matter what their actual words are, it’s never really “no.” It’s just “not yet.” In other words, the prospect is just saying “no” to the product at that moment in time — not forever. You never know when he or she will be ready for your product, which is why you have to follow up continuously.

Shift happens. No one lives in a stagnant world. People and circumstances change. A poor man can become wealthy overnight, while a rich man can go to prison and lose everything. Knowing this, it’s not up to you to determine who is qualified for your product or service and who isn’t. The only thing you can do is stay in touch with the people you think are potential customers.


Since few people follow up with prospects, you will truly stand out when you do. Even if your prospect does not immediately return your call or e-mail, he or she will remember your efforts. That way, when the potential customer is ready to make the buying decision, your name will be the first one they think of. Pick up that phone and do some follow-up today. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.


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