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Whenever You Call: How to Follow-Up With a Prospect

Before you hit 'call,' perfect your timing, script and strategy for more effective sales.

If half of what we do to find success is about showing up, the other half is surely about follow-up. Money is regularly left on the table because the person who was awarded the golden key couldn’t make themselves go to the post office to pick it up. 

A handful of hustle and a drop of two of discipline are required for this recipe. When your marketing tactics actually work—you meet a potential prospect while networking and they hand you a card and ask to continue the conversation—you must respond. Or maybe you want to drum up some business and feel that making a few cold calls will be worth the effort. The operative word is call.

Despite technological advances made over the years, the telephone is here to stay. Video calls make electronic communication more personal, but it needs to be scheduled. Also, you need a strong internet connection. The phone’s audio-only format enables good communication without needing to mess with Zoom. Plus, it never crashes.

When should you follow up?

According to a 2021 survey by Indeed, the best time to call a prospect, especially when you’re cold calling, is between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. At the end of the day, the prospect is often more inclined to take the call and listen to your pitch. At the end of the day, the prospect is more likely to be at their desk, is unlikely to start a new task and is perhaps wrapping something up. Overall, they’re more inclined to hear you out. 

If you’d like to try a morning call, late morning is preferable. Calling during the approach to lunchtime, 11:00 and 11:45 a.m., is the best time for follow-up with a prospect, whether unplanned or requested

The best days to call prospects are, you guessed it, Wednesday and Thursday. Monday and Friday are likely to yield less than stellar results for obvious reasons. Tuesday isn’t so bad, but apparently, there can be spillover from the Monday rush that takes away some of its appeal.

Script your pitch

It will be very helpful to create a “cold call” and a “warm call” script. You want your delivery to be smooth, your language concise, your tone upbeat and, of course, your pitch airtight. You don’t want to forget to say something important, and you don’t want to be at a loss for words. Neither do you want to sound like a robot who’s reading from the paper. Write a script to ensure that you’ll sound confident, conversational, knowledgeable and in control.

Helpful hints

  • Should the prospect take your call, ask if you’ve called at a good time if they have five minutes to talk.
  • Don’t present your call-to-action as an urgent push to make an immediate decision. Instead, persuade the prospect to commit to follow-up action as a way to continue the conversation. They’ll likely want to discuss your offer with the team.
  • If a prospect contacts your company by phone or email for any reason, respond within an hour.
  • If you meet a prospect while networking and they have questions about your products or services, call or email the next day.

Still feeling nervous about making the call? Read How Fear Is Stopping Your Sales.

About the author

Kim L. Clark

Kim L. Clark is the founder of Polished Professionals Boston, a business strategy and marketing consultancy. She is also an adviser to small business owners and develops workshops and classes that provide instruction in writing business plans. Kim has lectured at the Lesley University Seminars, the Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.

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