People don’t just buy something because you want them to buy it. Most of the time, they buy it because they want to or need to. Which is why people don’t immediately fork out money for a product or service immediately it’s pitched to them.
Based on my experience in sales, on average, it takes about seven follow up attempts for a person to buy or take action. Only two percent of sales usually occur at the first meeting. In fact, the two percent who purchase at the very first meeting are usually those who already know what they want and have already made up their minds to buy. For this reason, follow ups are very important if you want to make sales in business. The question though, is why does it take so many follow ups for a person to make a decision?
Trust (or lack of it)
Trust is a key factor in business and it can exert a lot of influence on a person. People tend not to trust offers at first for various reasons. However, with constant follow up where they are reminded of the benefits, the chances that they develop enough trust in you or the product/service is higher. We often see that in advertising – people tend to go for the brand they often see advertised on TV or other media over one they’ve never heard of.
People could also be held up by budget constraints initially. In this case, they would not buy a product at first contact simply because they do not have a budget for it. However, with further follow up, they can make space in their budgets as they become convinced that the product is actually one they could use.
The potential customer may have more pressing matters competing for their attention at the time, and may not be interested in your goods or services at the moment. Which means the time just isn’t right. However, with follow up, the chances of catching them at a time when they have fewer things taking up their attention is higher, and they may be more inclined to listen and make a commitment then. Similar to that is lack of time. Without several follow up attempts, people who are pressed for time tend not to show interest in making purchases.
Particularly for small businesses with low advertising budgets, the problem could simply be insufficient or inappropriate advertising. Without name recognition, potential customers require a whole lot of follow ups. As a business owner, you need to do enough marketing (and the right marketing) to firmly establish your brand in the minds of consumers, so that they can commit more quickly and easily.
How can businesses reduce follow up rates and achieve a higher close ratio?
There are things you can do to reduce follow up rates and achieve a higher close ratio, although some of them may seem counter-intuitive. For example:
- Stop trying to close: This means not trying too hard to close; today’s consumers are much too savvy to fall for hard-sell techniques. In fact, such techniques are likely to put them off. Instead, focus on helping prospects determine if the product or service makes sense for them or not. If not, do not try to cajole them into buying; not only will they may change their mind at some point, you could also lose them as customers in other products or services, or lose other potential customers through word‑of‑mouth.
- Help them make the connection: Try engaging your prospects in a discussion that would help them determine if what is on offer makes sense to them. With this, they are likely to make the connection between what you are offering and the value they will get, and so you may not need to follow up seven times before they decide.
If you are a small businesses owner and you are relying on just one, two or three follow ups, we can safely agree that you’re not gaining as many customers as you could. It is important to understand that small businesses that follow up on prospects enjoy higher conversion rates than others who do not follow up. However, it is equally important to focus on being more effective in closing, such that the number of follow ups required is lower, and your close ratio is higher. That will save you time, which you can channel into other aspects of your business.