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Why have salespeople stopped following up with prospects?

During a recent training session, a delegate proclaimed that following up is a waste of time and I never get any sales from following up so I just don’t bother anymore, I wasn’t shocked, in fact, I wasn’t even surprised as this isn’t the first time I’d heard this kind of response.

So my question is why have salespeople stopped following up prospects?

At first glance, this may seem like a simple question with a straightforward answer. However, the truth is that there are many reasons why salespeople may not be following up with prospects as they should be and I want to explore why this is and dispel some of the myths around following up.

The reality is and always has been that if you aren’t following up, you are definitely losing sales, so let’s look at some of the potential reasons why salespeople aren’t following up.

Lack of time

Salespeople are often extremely busy, and they may not have the time to follow up with every single prospect that they encounter.

This could be true if they are dealing with a high volume of leads or if they are working in a fast-paced environment. As a result, they may prioritise and be selective on who they follow up with and they focus on the prospects that they believe are most likely to convert into customers.

However, this alone shouldn’t be a reason for not following up, if we are brutally honest with ourselves time isn’t the real issue, a lack of discipline is more likely the real issue

Lack of resources

In some cases, salespeople may not have the resources that they need to follow up with prospects effectively. For example, they may not have access to a robust CRM system that can help them track their interactions with prospects. They may also lack the training or support that they need to follow up with prospects in a timely and effective manner.

In reality, this comes back to discipline, you don’t need the latest CRM, although it helps but a simple Excel spreadsheet would do the same job if you disciplined yourself to maintain it and work through it.

There’s also tonnes of technology out there to make following up on mass far easier to reach out to multiple prospects you can’t reach on the phone.

Lack of motivation

Now we’re getting close to the real problem, sales can be a challenging and stressful job, we all know this, and salespeople may become demotivated if they feel like they are not making progress and this can lead to salespeople not following up, as they may feel like it is not worth their time or energy to pursue certain prospects or leads. In addition, they may not feel like they have a clear understanding of how their follow-up efforts will impact their overall success.

When I first started in sales, sales managers used to tell me it takes 5-7 points of contact to get a sale, today that figure is closer to double that number and in some cases even more.

The reality is this, less than 3% of sales are closed in the first 1-4 contacts

42% of sales require 5 – 8 points of contact to close

38% of sales require 9 – 12 points of contact to close

12% of sales require more than 12 points of contact to close

5% of sales won’t respond to any form of follow up

Fear of rejection

This is a biggy, salespeople are absolutely hesitant to follow up with prospects if they are afraid of being rejected or if they feel like they have already been rejected. This fear of rejection can be a significant barrier to effective follow-up, as salespeople may avoid reaching out to prospects altogether to avoid potential discomfort or embarrassment.

Lack of understanding

Finally, salespeople may not follow up with prospects effectively simply because they do not understand, this could be that they don’t understand the importance of following up, They may not realise that following up can be a critical part of the sales process and that it can help them build relationships with prospects over time.

Without this understanding, they may not prioritise follow-up efforts or may not know how to follow up effectively.

The other side of a lack of understanding is that they don’t understand how their clients make their decisions and if you don’t follow up in a way that aligns with how their clients buy this will make following up harder.

The simple fact is that following up is not only important it’s critical to making more sales, there are many reasons why salespeople may not be following up with prospects effectively. From a lack of time and resources to fear of rejection and a lack of understanding, there are a variety of factors that can impact salespeople's ability to effectively follow up with prospects, but the biggest barrier in my experience is a lack of discipline.

But consider this, firstly I’m fanatical when it comes to following up, always have been and I always will be, the reason is this I know that every year, every single year I have been in sales I make sales because of my discipline when it comes to following up and every year I make sales purely because I’m the only one left in the race.

This brings me to my second and final point, take another look at the statistics above on average 97% of sales take more than 4 points of contact to close, you could be eliminating yourself from 97% of sales opportunities just because you stopped following up, now that’s something to think about!

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