How many sales calls do you think you have made so far during this pandemic? The number is probably higher than usual since in-person networking events have been put on hold for the foreseeable future. With social distancing and working from home, you’re less likely to stumble upon prospective clients or connections to new clients organically. So, it’s now your responsibility to find and reach out to prospects. And the phone is a more personal way to reach out than emails. It’s rare that one call is enough to land a meeting or a sale, so you’ll probably have to make a follow-up call or two. Or six. To make your follow-up sales calls effective, you need to know when to reach out and what to say.
Making Follow-Up Sales Calls During a Pandemic
When to Make Calls
Two of the most common, and important, questions reps have when making follow-up sales calls are:
- “What are the best days to make sales calls?”
- “When is the best time to make a sales call?”
Meg Prater, writing for HubSpot, has the answers to both of these questions.
What Days to Call
Research shows that the best days to make calls in order to qualify leads are Wednesdays and Thursdays. “In fact,” says Prater, “there was a 49% difference between leads qualified (meaning they agreed to enter the sales process) on Thursdays and those that qualified on Tuesdays.” Additionally, there’s a, “46% difference between calls made on Wednesdays (the best day to call) and those made on Mondays.” Also, you may think that Mondays are the worst days to make follow-up sales calls. But Fridays are actually the worst.
What Time to Call
Businesspeople must get their second wind when the end of the day is approaching because that’s the best time to make follow-up sales calls. Time your calls to occur sometime between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. if you want a sales call to go your way. 8 a.m. is the next best time to make follow-up sales calls. Whatever you do, don’t call a prospect between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. According to Prater, this is the worst period of time to make calls. Who wants to be disturbed during their lunch break?
How Often to Call
Even if you use this information to time your follow-up sales calls perfectly, there’s still a chance your prospect won’t answer. They could be in a meeting, on another call, at a late or early lunch, etc. But don’t assume that they saw your attempted call and ignored it. That kind of thinking leads to giving up before you’ve given your attempts a fair chance at success. Prater recommends that sales reps make at least six follow-up sales calls before giving up on the prospect. “By making more call attempts — or call attempts, period — sales reps experienced up to a 70% increase in contact rates,” she says. Think of it this way: The more difficult a prospect is to reach (within reason), the less likely it is that they’ve been contacted by your competition yet. Perseverance pays off, especially if it’s a trait you have that your competitors don’t.
How to Make a Good First Impression
You never have another chance to make a good first impression. And in today’s business world, you don’t have long to make that impression before you’re hung up on. When making follow-up sales calls, Prater says that reps have five seconds to earn five minutes of your prospective client’s time. No pressure. And you will want to use all of that allotted time. “Successful calls are almost twice as long as unsuccessful calls, clocking in at 5:50 and 3:14 minutes respectively,” says Prater.
Starting the Conversation
Obviously with only five minutes to chat, you want to get down to business as soon as possible. However, that doesn’t mean that you should skip the pleasantries. According to SalesFuel’s Voice of the Sales Rep study, one of the most common sales objections reps run into is that their customer service is lacking (16.84% of reps agree). Prater recommends including one of these pleasantries somewhere in the beginning of your follow-up sales call:
- “How have you been?” This increases a sales rep’s chance of successfully booking a meeting by 6.6X
- “How are you?” If you think the first is too familiar, try this question to increase your chances of success 3.4X
- “The reason I’m calling is…” By opening with these words, you’re getting straight to the point and letting your prospect know that. So, it increases your chances of booking a meeting by 2.1X
Do NOT begin your call with, “Did I catch you at a bad time?” This question gives the prospect an easy out from the conversation that they will almost definitely take advantage of. Don’t give them that. Instead, engage the prospect.
During the Conversation
Most sales reps have been told to let the prospect do most of the talking. While this can be a useful tactic during sales meetings, it’s deadly to follow-up sales calls. Prater says that, during successful sales calls, reps do 54% of the talking. But that doesn’t mean that you should fill any silence that occurs. Your prospects still need time to consider what they’ve heard. If you keep talking, they won’t have time to do so to give you a favorable answer.