You Gotta Keep Trying


Even after 11 tries!

I read a book the other day that said that you have to make at least eleven contacts with a company before they become a customer. Eleven contacts? Wow no wonder so many people don’t make it in sales? Eleven is about eight more than most people I know, try before they get discouraged and move on.

There are many reasons for moving on, for stopping, after two or three contacts, the first being that you don’t want to be a pest. You don’t want the target to start hating you for your stubborn consistency. Most of us are pretty polite folks, and we feel that we know the difference between being a good conscientious salesperson, and a pain in the neck. But then again, I have spoken to many buyers who will tell me things like. “He called me so many times, that after a while I had to give him a try.” Or, “I’m not sure about sales people today, it used to be that they would keep calling me, but now most of them stop after three times. And, that’s a shame because by the time I need them and their products they are gone, and they miss the chance to do business with me.”

Let’s be clear, these contacts don’t have to all be phone calls nor do they have to be live customer visits. They just have to be contacts or what I call “touches” of the customer. Here are some examples of eleven “touches”, you can give a potential customer. For these examples, let’s use a target customer who does not know who you are or what you do; a target customer you get from a directory:

  1. The first touch will be an email. Send the target a well written email explaining who you are and something about your company and what it does. This email will be send to everyone one your target list as well, a mass email.
  2. The second touch will be a value-added newsletter about your company, focused on how your can help the target.
  3. The third touch will be an actual phone call, with the goal of setting up a face to face appointment. Chances are you will get voice mail, you could get voice mail a number of times, before you actually talk to the person. Make sure the voice message you leave is always cheerful, polite, and yes, even intriguing. By the way chances are very good that the buyer will never call you back. But rest assured, she is getting your messages and knows who you are.
  4. The fourth touch is when you finally get the person to answer the phone. This could happen by sheer luck of timing, or the buyer could have answered in purpose. During this touch, try to engage the person in a conversation, making sure this conversation is focused on her needs. Remember, it is always better to listen, than to talk. And, if this call is done correctly you should be able to start developing your strategy for winning this account. Also remember to ask for in person meeting.
  5. The fifth touch is the actual meeting. Check this out, it took four touches to get to that first face to face meeting, and the meeting, is just the start of the next phase. Now the meeting; make sure you have a goal for that meeting. What do you want to accomplish during the meeting and how will you accomplish that goal? Chances are if you do a good job you will walk away with the promise of an RFQ.
  6. The sixth touch is the follow up. This is a thank you and summary email where you list the things you talked about and also add a gentle reminder of that quote package you were promised.
  7. The seventh touch will be a week or so later, when you have not heard from that buyer and you make a phone call to leave a message reminding the buyer of your meeting and the promise of a quote package.
  8. The eighth touch will be when it is time to pick up that quote package. The buyer will either call you in or will send you the package. Now you are getting warmer, closer to success!
  9. The ninth touch will be if you have questions about the package. Make sure they are good questions.
  10. The tenth touch will be delivering the quote package. Try to make this one in person so you can ask about your chances of winning the package.
  11. The eleventh touch will be to follow-up your quote to see if you won it or not. If you did not win it, then you need to find out what it will take to win it next time. If you did win it, congratulations! You are an overnight success, after only eleven touches and about six months.

The thing to remember is to keep trying. But there are a couple of things to consider as well. First make sure that the account you are targeting is a worthwhile target. That they have they fit into your “ideal customer profile” if they do great, if not move on. The second is to make sure that you are getting somewhere. If after eleven touches you are no further along than you were at touch two then move on, there are other targets out there and you can better spend your time pursuing them. Remember what Willie Sutton said about why he robbed banks, “it’s where the money is.” It’s only common sense

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