You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Are You Leaving Money on the Table? Persistent follow up that nevers crossing the line into pestering is the secret to sales success.

By Shaun Buck

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Two of my five boys are in sports. My 9-year-old, Tyler, loves any kind of competition. He's basically a legend in his mind, and when he's playing, he's playing to win the game. Jeremiah is my 6-year-old, and he has a different goal in mind for playing sports: "winning" snacks at the end of the game. Jeremiah is convinced he's a soccer superstar because he "wins" snacks every time. We're not sure how much he actually enjoys soccer itself yet, but apparently the snacks are worth it.

I like to tell this story because it illustrates the fact that two people playing the same "game" can have very different reasons for doing so. The same is true for your prospects. What motivates one prospect to become a customer isn't necessarily what will motivate another, and what's working now may not always work in the future.

So, what's a business owner to do about this? It's a simple matter of making sure to follow up.

Related: The Simple Formula for Following Up

People are ready to buy at different times and for different reasons, so the best way to go is simply to accept this and stay top of mind with your prospects until they decide that they need what you're selling. Here are some statistics about how many touches it takes to close a sale:

  • 2 percent of sales close on the first call.
  • 3 percent of sales close on the second call.
  • 4 percent of sales close on the third call.
  • 10 percent of sales close on the fourth call.
  • 81 percent of sales close on (or after) the fifth call.

You're not going to understand what your prospects want right away, and in fact, neither will they. It takes time for them to get to know you, your business, and your products or services, just as it takes time for you to get to know them. And until those prospects feel confident that they need what you're selling — and that yours is the business to hire — they aren't likely come on board as paying customers.

Gartner Research revealed that "67 percent of the prospective buyers who tell you "no' today will be ready to buy in the next year." That's not because you had a bad product last year — it's just that there are a lot more reasons for a prospect to say "no" than "yes" at any given time. If your sales team routinely gives up after one sales call and fails to stay in touch or follow up at all with its prospects, then the entire business is essentially dependent on the 2 percent of sales that close on that first call.

Related: 5 Secrets to Mastering Sales Follow-Up

My take is that people are going to buy when they're good and ready. Imagine how different your business would be right now if you could convert 67 percent of all the leads Facebook sends your way. That change in most businesses would be nothing short of revolutionary!

The problem is, most of us don't follow up with more than a few emails. Fortunately, there's another way to stay in touch besides a series of emails: a monthly newsletter. Taking leads from online and moving them offline by sending out a print newsletter is the best way I've encountered to follow up with prospects -- all without seeming pesky or desperate.

I often get the question, "why bother with print mail when you can use email?" People are becoming desensitized to email due to the increase in volume. An estimated 95 percent of emails are never even opened, while direct mail has the advantage of less competition, better targeting and greater longevity than electronic communication. Ironically, the world's largest e-commerce event, the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition, sells tickets and spots to vendors using a 32-page direct mail piece! Even Facebook and Google use direct mail to sell their advertising services.

Related: 7 Tips for Mastering the Fine Art of Following Up

According to the 2015 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail response rates outperform digital channels substantially, with an average 3.7 percent response rate using a house list and a 1 percent response rate with a prospect list, compared to the average of all digital channels at a 0.62 percent response rate. Digital marketing is absolutely beneficial and has a place in your marketing, but it really shines when it's combined with a powerful direct mail campaign.

There really is no substitute for following up with prospects, and incorporating direct mail marketing into your follow-up strategy is a dynamite solution. Don't leave money on the table just because one of your customers sees "winning" differently than another. If you market correctly, they'll buy when they are ready.

Shaun Buck

Entrepreneur, Speaker, Author, & CEO of The Newsletter Pro

Shaun Buck is the co-author of No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention (Entrepreneur Press, March 2016) as well as CEO of Boise, Idaho-based The Newsletter Pro, the largest custom print newsletter company in the world—printing and mailing millions of newsletters annually for diverse industries all over the globe.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

He Took His Side Hustle Full-Time After Being Laid Off From Meta in 2023 — Now He Earns About $200,000 a Year: 'Sweet, Sweet Irony'

When Scott Goodfriend moved from Los Angeles to New York City, he became "obsessed" with the city's culinary offerings — and saw a business opportunity.


Save on Business Travel with Matt's Flight's Premium, Only $80 for Life

This premium plan features customized flight deal alerts and one-on-one planning with Matt himself.

Science & Technology

Here's One Reason Urban Transportation Won't Look the Same in a Decade

Micro-EVs may very well be the future of city driving. Here's why, and how investors can get ahead of it.

Health & Wellness

Do You Want to Live to Be 100? This Researcher Has the Answer to Why Longevity is Not a Quick Fix or Trendy Diet

Ozempic, cold plunges, sobriety and the latest health fads are not what science reveals will help you live a longer and healthier life.

Data & Recovery

Better Communicate Data with Your Team for $20 with Microsoft Visio

Visio features a wide range of diagramming tools that can support projects across all industries.