Want to Close More Sales? Here’s How Long it Takes
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Want to Close More Sales? Here’s How Long it Takes.

About 44 percent of sales reps give up after a prospect’s first rejection… that’s a lot of lost sales. Let that sink in for a second. After hearing just one “no,” “not right now” or “call again in a week,” almost half of all salespeople will simply give up the ghost. Leads are definitely not all created equal, but using persistence and creativity in the follow-up process can be great equalizers.

Be Tenacious

Figures show that 80 percent of all sales are made after the fifth “touch,” or follow-up. Even more shocking is the fact that only 8 percent of all sales reps play the long game and make it there.

It’s not that this top sales tier possesses loftier qualifications. On the contrary, experience plays the critical role in separating the wheat from the chaff. The most successful sales reps understand that not everything hinges on the first contact. A prospect may love your initial pitch, but may not purchase anything from you for months.

Here’s the thing: Prospects are busy people, and often have a million priorities in addition to entertaining your sales calls. For example, the prospect may have enthusiastically accepted your invitation to discuss your products face-to-face, but a few deadlines and a budget cut later, the purchase looks a lot less compelling and she cancels. However, this is no reason for you to just move on from that prospect and mark the opportunity as a loss in Salesforce.

Offer Insights and Value

The best thing you can do as a sales rep is to offer the prospect valuable insights for meeting their challenges. Repeatedly calling a prospect with the same line won’t advance your cause, no matter how many times you do it.

On the other hand, if the prospect is hesitant to make a purchase because of budgetary limitations, you might point out how your company can save them money and ultimately contribute to their bottom line. This requires research on your part, but remember: strong business relationships lead to repeat sales. This is how LinkedIn’s sales department continues to expand its base of premium corporate licenses.

Don’t be afraid to really get your hands dirty and dig deep for a way to connect to a prospect. Follow their social media accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook — but don’t simply use these as backup channels for your pitch. Make your interactions meaningful. If you notice that your prospect has been posting about a persistent challenge, help them solve it, even if it doesn’t immediately win you business.

Five is apparently the magic number of follow-ups needed before a successful sale. But don’t just be persistent. Be smart, be sympathetic and be useful, and your own magic number may be a success rate of 100 percent.

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