How Many Follow-Ups Does It Really Take?

At the risk of aging myself, there used to be a commercial for Tootsie Pop suckers in which a young child asks the wise owl, “How many licks does it to take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?”

It was a set up to the premise that no one really ever knew because the lollipop was soo good people “bit” before licking their way to the center.

In the world of financial services, the question should be “How many follow-ups does it take to get a response from a prospect you’ve met with?”

And the answer “We may never know because 44% of sales people give up after 1 follow-up, and 92% give up by the 4th follow-up. Yet 60% of prospects require 5 follow ups. And the other 40% even more!

Beware of the Stories You Tell Yourself

Why is that? They seemed interested, didn’t they? Why are they ghosting you?

There are so many things that can get in the way of a buyer returning messages, taking the next step, or making a decision, and you won’t know until you get a response.

That’s why it’s important to NOT start telling yourself stories about what is going on…
• They’re not interested
• They decided to work with someone else
• My fees were too high

These assumptions will zap your energy and keep you from the continual follow-up that will get a response.

Set Clear Expectations

Often you can keep yourself from getting into this situation in the first place by ending every conversation with specific next steps – who is doing what by when? And getting the next meeting or follow-up scheduled.

Here’s what you should do…

First, no “checking in.”

Instead, frame out your follow ups with 4 key components

The 4 Key Components of a Strong Follow-Up

1. Remind your prospect why you spoke in the first place. What was the problem, opportunity, want or need they had?
2. Explain what you’re asking – is it:
    a. To talk?
    b. An email response?
    c. To submit/send something?
3. Give a time frame to the action request
4. Explain what happens next. For example, “If I don’t hear from you by… I’ll call you Tuesday at 4 p.m.”

To make this easy – create 8-12 templates and make them a mix of emails, phone calls, and (gasp!) texts.

For phone calls, it’s okay to leave a voice mail letting them know when you’ll next contact them.

How Many Follow-Ups Does It Really Take?

How many follow-ups will it take to get a response from your buyer? Maybe 2 or maybe 12. Heck it might be 20 spread over a year until they are faced with year-end taxes or some other life event that spurs a decision.

As long as you aren’t sending daily messages, checking in, and being unclear on why you are contacting them, your persistent and consistency will pay off – with clarity of the viability of that sales opportunity.

My suggestion is that you don’t stop following up until you get a response…whether the response is “stop, we’re not interested” or an “I’m so glad you kept in touch, what’s next?”

But What About Those Tootsie Pops?

And an interesting final tidbit – Purdue University researched the question about the Tootsie Roll lollipop – “How many licks does it take?” and they found that an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop was needed with their licking machine. But human volunteers averaged only 252 licks to reach the center.

There’s some trivia help for your next game night!



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