During my sales rep days, I used to make upwards of 150-200 calls a day. Some of them were cold calls from a list, but many were people I had met at conferences and shows that needed to be followed up with. I had a made a meaningful connection with a handful of them, but, with regards to the majority of them, we had only shared some small talk and perhaps a sample. I wouldn’t have classified them as warm leads, and certainly didn’t jump at the idea of calling them. But if I didn’t, I had wasted both my time and theirs at the conference? If you weren’t going to continue building that relationship, why say anything to them as they passed your booth? You definitely wasted a sample.

80 percent of people don’t follow-up

For some reason, today’s sales force, and this included me at one point as well, view the follow-up call as intrusive or annoying to their prospective customer. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. For me, it was more about the fear of rejection and the awkward conversation. Would they remember me? Would they really want to talk to me? I don’t want them to think I’m calling them just to get them to buy something, but, of course, a sale is the end intention, isn’t it?

I could go through that circular thought process all day, and I would settle on an email; feeling it less disruptive and more amiable. They could read it on their own time and get back to me if they were interested, right? Wrong. The stats tell us that only 24% of sales emails get opened, and, having reflected on my own practices as a consumer, I believe it.

I can’t tell you how many times I have deleted an email just from seeing the sender’s name. That’s right. I didn’t read the subject or the preview content. It certainly didn’t open it. My inner voice said, “I don’t have time for this right now,” and swiped right to delete it. In less than a second, the sales email that had been carefully crafted was gone; never read.

And, yes, I’ve done the same with a text or private message on Facebook.

It needs to be the largest part of your day

There are tons of reasons NOT to pick up the phone. And you’re not the only one coming up with them. But the reality is that if you aren’t going to make your follow-up a priority than you have no hope of reaching your sales goals. That’s why follow-up needs to be what you spend the most time on each day.

And, although the stats tell us it’s going to take a minimum of 18 calls to reach a prospect, we know that a phone call or visit is the best way to continue relationship building with your leads. It may take some time, effort and overcoming of that negative self-talk, but you’re not running a charity here. 

I wish there was some secret sauce to make the sales call easier, but there isn’t. The only way I built myself up to 150+ calls a day was by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and just doing it. Armed with a script that was tailored to my intention for the call, practice was really the only way to get used to it; and to improve. I had to get the idea that people would call me if I sat around waiting long enough, and, as Nike says, “Just do it.”

EDITORS NOTE: Ready to make following up the biggest part of your day? Check out our Fempire LIVE with Laura Skjelmose, the Inspired Sales Coach, for tips and tricks for taking the edge off when it’s time to pick up the phone and start following up.