Be Professionally Persistent

With frequency, I receive questions from members of the CLC Community wondering “how much time should I give between calls or emails when I don’t hear back from a prospect?” or “how many times should I reach out to a prospect before giving up?”  In that spirit, several years ago I shared some guidance which I call, “The Third Message.”  This little gem, adapted from advice I received from a friend, essentially encourages people to try three times before giving up.

This notion of follow up has been coming up more and more lately given that we must increasingly rely on virtual and socially distanced networking to start and nurture relationships.  Since we are not coincidentally bumping into contacts at coffee shops or at meetings, we must be more intentional about our outreach and connection.

With that in mind, I enlisted the input of my pal, Ray Ruecker, author of How to Score from First Base! (In Sales):  A Step-by-Step Guide to Shorten Sales Cycles and Multiply Revenue.  Ray says that whenever he gets asked the question about the number of attempts and spacing between outreach efforts, he responds with a definitive, “It depends!”  While that may not sound helpful, he backs up his thoughts with the following:

  • Don’t Abandon Your Efforts Before You’ve Made at Least 14 Attempts.  Especially in sales, it can take multiple attempts, over a period of several months, to reach the person you are trying to connect with – particularly if they are the key decision-maker and/or a member of the C-suite in their organization.

  • Schedule Matters.  Consider different times of day to reach out to your contact.  Think about their company’s schedule and their personal schedule. Adapt from there.

  • Try Different Media.  Your outreach efforts can and should include some combination of phone calls/voice messages, email, snail mail, LinkedIn messaging, and/or text messaging.  Alternate your approaches.  Remember that you want to reach your contact in the way that most appeals to them… know your audience and use the modes of communication they are most likely to respond to.

  • Don’t be a Pest.  This is all about professionalism.  You don’t want to be branded as annoying.  If it’s not working out, you’ll have a good sense for when it’s time to move on… or at least move on for now. 

  • Outreach is a Combination of Art and Science.  Get creative.  There is not one magical way to reach someone.  Your ingenuity coupled with your persistence is what will ultimately land you the connection.

So, keep at it!  Don’t get discouraged.  A lack of response is more a reflection on the person you are reaching out to than it is on you.  Be persistent and you will get the results you seek.

Happy Networking!

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