Make a follow-up call

How often should you make a follow-up call?
Answer: How long does a piece of string last?

A piece of string is as long as you cut it. Follow-up calls are as long and as numerous as you make them. To be effective and successful in following up with leads, you need to know when to cut the chain. You need to know when to cut short or when to cut long.

Too short

At the end of the line? Most reps shortened their chains far too short.

Far, far too short.

They give up too easily.

Studies show that 68% to 87% of salespeople give up after their first attempt. Let’s round it up a bit and divide the difference and say 80% of reps quit after a follow-up attempt.


A single solitary attempt.

Too long

Opposite extreme: can there be too many follow-up calls? Can there be ropes cut too long?

Yeah, you talk he can.

There are those who talk about persistence and how that is the key to getting the sale. They advocate following up until the prospect says no.

It makes no sense!

First of all, it can annoy … seriously annoy your prospect. Far from admiring your impetuous perseverance, you will anger them. You will NOT love yourself for them.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, making a series of follow-up calls is a waste of time. If I were a sales manager, I would be scared if I found a sales rep making ten or twelve follow-up calls to each of their prospects. I would seriously question their common sense.

Granting perseverance to the extent of which I speak can pay off. But the number of times you convert the prospect just isn’t worth the “opportunity cost.” Opportunity cost refers to all the opportunities that you have lost while trying to call a customer who is clearly not interested.

The magic number for follow-up calls – the rule of 4

So now we’ve put the bookends on the problem and put the chain in brackets. So what is the magic number?
I call it: the rule of four.


You make four follow-up calls.

Your “chain” of follow-up is all about timing. It’s not just about making four calls, it’s about how far apart to space those calls.

Here is the formula.

You make four calls and three business days apart. So if you call Thursday and haven’t heard from the prospect, you make your next call the following Tuesday and then again on Friday. Use some sort of scheduling system – Calendar, Outlook, Goldmine … whatever – to schedule calls.

Why three days?

Because three days gives your prospect plenty of time to call back. Three Days also shows persistence without being too boring. It’s that simple.

Exception to the rule of 4
Are there any exceptions?

Of course there are! If you’ve spoken with a prospect and that sounds like a possible lead, you might want to stick with your follow-up … lengthen your chain of contacts. But you can do this with other mediums to show persistence with some variance (see Volume 3, numbers 25 and 26). This reduces the annoyance factor. But don’t forget to broadcast your contacts. A daily call or two is the kiss of death.


There are far too many short processes. Manage your process and watch your sales increase.