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I was talking with one of my clients about sales management, and the topic of how many unanswered follow ups are appropriate before declaring a lead to be 'lost'. He admitted his company had no standard, but surmised that if they did have one “It would be at least three, maybe four”.

I generally agreed with him that three or four was reasonable, provided he added to that one more email or voicemail…the most powerful and effective email/voice mail in a salesperson’s bag of tricks. It’s so powerful that it can only be used once with a prospect; and like many powerful tools, using it too early will negate its power.

What is this magical email or voicemail, you ask? Well it’s not really magical, but it does have strong results. We call it 'the break up email' and it goes something like this:


You’ve left some combination of four emails and/or voice mails (preferably a mix) with absolutely no response from the prospect. You don’t know if the lead is lost, and you’re clearly stuck. Leaving more messages would just be annoying, so it’s time to take control (one of the three Ts of InSite Selling). Send an email (or leave a voicemail) like this:

Dear (name),

Thanks again for your interest (fill in community name). In the past couple of weeks, I’ve made several attempts to contact you again to discuss this. I know you’re probably very busy, or you may no longer be interested in leasing a new home here. Either way, I want to be able to help you without being a pest.

If you are still interested, please let me know when you might be available to talk. If you’re no longer interested, I’d appreciate the courtesy of a response; however, I will not continue to contact you unless you get back to me to tell me you want me to continue.

Either way, I wish you good luck in your search for a new home and appreciate the time you have been able to give me.

By authentically acknowledging what’s going on and taking control to get to some resolution, it is not unusual to get a 25-30% or higher response rate asking you to stay in contact…and often with an apology for not having responded earlier. As for those who respond that they’re no longer interested or who don’t respond at all: you just saved yourself from wasting time chasing lost leads and now know that you’re not leaving anything on the table!

Donald Davidoff is President of D2 Demand Solutions and focuses on bringing people and technology together. A former senior executive at Archstone and Holiday Retirement, his practice covers pricing, sales, marketing, leadership development, customer experience and BI.
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