I was talking with a VP Sales at a tech company today and the topic came up of how difficult it can be to reach prospects. We were on the same page as he realized it takes numerous attempts to reach a prospect and he gave me an example of how he had to call one prospect in particular 4-5 times. Most reps would have given up by then we agreed. I said I bet the prospect apologized when you connected with him finally didn't he? He said YES. We have that happen all the time, it's an indicator of doing something right.

Do you often hear your prospects apologize?

You might ask...why would a prospect apologize? What could they do to me that they need to? Or why would I confront them and put them in a position where they needed to apologize? Hmmm....

Prospects often apologize very early in discussions. What does this mean to you? It means you now have their attention.

But the question of WHY they would apologize is still out there. ANSWER: They apologize because a client called them ranting about a problem and they had to put out a fire, or one of their staff had to leave on a family emergency, or they had a key team member quit, or because they get 300 emails and 15 vendor calls a day, or because an enterprise platform they just bought crashed, or they have 200 sites offline right now because an application went down....the reasons are innumerable.

But why would they apologize to YOU about how busy they are?

Because they DO have an active requirement and they Check SpellingARE interested, they know they asked for information or even had a great call with you already--there IS an opportunity, they just got so crazy busy they couldn't call you back. The fact you had to call them 4x is kind of embarrassing for them, and they really apologize they weren't available. You have their attention now...

If you aren't hearing a lot of apologies--are you connecting with a lot of your prospects? A traditional approach is to call prospects 1x o 3x and then give up. I have even heard reps say "if they were interested they would call me back."

Wendy Weiss quotes from a recent study in her Cold Calling Bootcamp: The National Sales Executive Association did that discovered:

  • 2% of sales are closed from a single attempt,
  • 3% from two attempts,
  • 5% after 3 attempts,
  • 10% after 4 attempts,
  • but here is the whopper--80% of deals closed after making from 5-12 attempts.

Companies often do a "Did They Buy" Study on past leads that typically reveal that from 50%-70% of your prospects ended up buying something, but did they buy it from you? Prospects tend to take the path of least resistance, so if someone is making it easy to buy from them, by being available and persistent--they have increased their chances of getting the deal.

Jill Konrath's book, SNAP Selling, goes into great detail about the "crazy busy" world our prospects are working in. Today's sales reps need to navigate their prospects busy lives to connect, it's well worth the effort since the percentage of closed deals skyrockets after 5 attempts.

If you hear a lot of apologies from your prospects, you are doing a great job keeping them engaged and making it easy for them to buy from you. If you aren't, then take a look at your process for follow up and ask if you might be giving up too early?

When was the last time a prospect told you they were sorry they didn't call you back sooner?