Lead follow-up can be a real dilemma for salespeople. On the one hand, a lead – a prospective buyer who’s responded to an ad, emailed for information, or otherwise expressed interest in buying your product or service – is your best source of new business. On the other hand, at some point enough is enough.

So what IS that point?

Research from Leads360.com may offer some guidance. It’s based on an analysis of 3.5 million leads across from more than 400 sales organizations. (In the study, a lead is defined as someone who made an inquiry or otherwise expressed interest in buying.) The results may be different for you, of course, but these findings can give you a starting point for developing your follow-up strategy.

Six calls are the sweet spot
The study looked at how many calls it took to reach the people who end up buying.

It found that the first attempt reaches only 48% of eventual buyers. By the second call, that number is up to 70%. But there are more sales to be had. By the sixth call, you’ll have reached 93% of the people who will buy.

Notice that this doesn’t mean you’ll reach 93% of ALL leads by the sixth call. It means you’ll reach nearly all of the leads that end up buying. If you haven’t been able to reach a lead after six attempts, chances are they’re not going to buy from you, the study found.

After the sixth call, the return on effort drops sharply. By the ninth call, you reach only another 3% of actual buyers. So for most sales reps, the sweet spot that maximizes their time and effort will be about six calls. On the other hand, if you’re in a business where leads are few but the potential payoff is huge, you probably want to follow a different strategy – for example, one aimed at developing long-term relationships with potential prospects, even if they’re not actively buying.

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