You’ve got a hot lead – someone who’s made an active inquiry about your product or service. So of course you jump right on it with a phone call.

What are the odds of reaching the prospect? And how long should you keep calling before you give up?

Your odds depend on how quickly you call, of course. But on average, according to a big new study by Leads360, 48% percent of prospects that eventually convert are reached on the first attempt. That sounds pretty good, but here’s the rub. The same research shows that 50% of leads never get a second call. And remember – these are prospects who are looking to buy.

So how many attempts should you make before giving up? Well, it’s going to be different for specific types of sales. But on average, the study suggests, the magic number is six.

Take a look at the chart (click to enlarge). By the sixth call, you’ve reached 93% of the people who will eventually buy. After that, you’re not going to get much more return for your efforts.

Here’s another way to look at it, according to the study authors: If it takes you seven or more attempts to reach a prospect, that prospect is 45% less likely to convert than those you reach in six calls or fewer.

Now, I don’t presume to tell you how many times you should try to reach a prospect. That’s between you, your conscience and your sales manager. But this study doesn’t reveal an epidemic of salespeople making too many follow-up calls. On the contrary, it suggests that most salespeople are giving up too soon.

One last thought: These findings may help you put some structure around your follow-up strategy. You could tell yourself, “I’m going to call each of these leads until I connect,” but that’s a tough commitment to keep. On the other hand, if you tell yourself, “I’m going to call each of these leads six times and then move on,” I suspect you’ll be more likely to actually make those six calls.

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