Why Marketing Fails #3: No Follow-Up

Posted by on Jan 29 2019

There are some people in the world who love the challenge of “cold calling” — that is to say, you enjoy calling people who you have never met, have never had any contact via email or phone, and asking them whether they need your product or service.

But what about those people who contact you and ask about your products and services? They’re interested in your services, your classes, your mastermind groups. Do you follow-up with those warm leads?

Most small business owners will make at least one follow-up phone call or email to a prospective customer. But if they don’t get a response back, they often drop the whole thing. You don’t want to feel like you’re being a pest.

But you have to remember two important things:

  1. The prospect called you. They want to hear from you.
  2. There are many reasons why a prospect might not call you back.

Let’s look at both reasons

In the first place, the prospect contacted you. They are interested or they wouldn’t have gone to the effort of leaving a voicemail or sending an email. People who take action, even these seemly simple actions, are motivated and interested.

In the second place, just because they don’t return your phone call or email doesn’t mean they’re not interested anymore. Think about your own life for a minute: I bet you’re a very busy person and there’s always something going on that needs your attention. Items on your to-do list slip off, including returning phone calls and emails. Well, your prospects are just like you! They’re busy, they’re time-constrained, and they’ve got to put out fires first, before they can take on another task.

I’ve done an unscientific test over the past six months. I’ve continued to call and email people who have expressed an interest in me and my business, just to see what happens. Amazing! In nearly every single case, the prospect was grateful that I took the time to continue to follow-up, even though they hadn’t replied to me.

So why hadn’t they replied to you?

In short, life got in the way:

  • A family member died and they had to go out of town to take care of funeral and house-selling tasks for a month.
  • A child was preparing for a big college-entrance exam and needed a lot of extra time and attention.
  • They were working on a big proposal for a prospect and put everything else on hold until the proposal got out the door.
  • They had never gotten my reply email (a spam filter had captured it).

…And any number of other reasons. All legitimate.

How often should you follow-up?

Here are the rules of thumb I work with when I get a prospect call or email:

  • First contact: we follow-up within one business day
  • Second contact: we re-try three days later, always via phone (darn those email filters!)
  • Third contact: 10-14 days later, both by phone and by email

In marketing and sales, being shy or lacking confidence is a killer for your business. If people express interest in you, now is the time to connect with them, repeatedly if necessary, and not avoid it.

Read the complete Why Marketing Fails blog series here:


6 comments for now

6 Responses to “Why Marketing Fails #3: No Follow-Up”

  1. The phrase “on their good time” strikes me as a good enough reason for whether or when some one returns your contact with them.

    I’m one to be frustrated by non-early returns so I have to take my own advice but continue to communicate regardless of the timing.

    09 Jul 2010 at 12:54 pm

  2. Karyn Greenstreet

    I agree, Don! I sometimes think we get antsy and expect instant gratification to our phone calls and emails. But people are busy and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can. 🙂

    09 Jul 2010 at 1:50 pm

  3. […] don’t get a response back, they often drop the whole thing,” said Greenstreet in “Why Marketing Fails #3: No Follow-Up” on her Passion for Business […]

    05 Jul 2012 at 8:51 pm

  4. […] Why Marketing Fails #3: No Follow-Up […]

    23 Jul 2015 at 11:58 am

  5. Hi Karyn,

    Good article!

    What would be your advice for the scenario where they have not contacted you but, instead, you’ve contacted them?


    08 Feb 2019 at 11:27 am

  6. Karyn Greenstreet

    Hi, Brendan, great question. I think the rules would be similar. For instance, say that you contact a prospect on a Monday and leave a voicemail on their phone. I would give it 2 or 3 days for them to get back to you (people are busy), then follow-up a second time. I would then wait a week, and if I hadn’t heard back from them, follow-up a third time. If, after that, they still don’t respond, I would mark them as “not interested” and move on to another prospect. But what if they have said in the past they ARE interested? I would still wait for them to contact me after repeated attempts to get in touch with them. A combination of phone/email/texts assures the message DID get to them, so if they’re no longer responding, it’s either because it’s not important to them any longer, or something else has come up that requires their attention at this time.

    11 Feb 2019 at 10:13 am

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