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When Do You Give Up On An Unresponsive Prospect?


It's pretty common in the cold calling game to feel like we're just spinning our wheels. Dial after dial and all we have to show for it is a few choice words from a gatekeeper admin who tells us they’re not interested and to stop calling (even though they haven't bothered to listen to what we're offering). We often debate if it makes sense at some point to just waive the white flag after numerous calls/emails into an unresponsive prospect. The short answer from our perspective is N-O.

I would say our approach takes more the "glass half full" mentality. We assume that if we do not hear back then it just means that our contact hasn’t managed to carve the time out of their day to get back to us. Knowing that most executives are very busy individuals we recognize that responding to a teleprospector is not their number one on their list of priorities. Our consistently deliberate approach has shown us that if you spend enough time knocking on that door, you will eventually elicit some kind of response. 

Most of us who cold call at some point come to the realization that believe it or not, some people don't want to hear from us. Shocking I know. As a result, they will purposely ignore our attempts to connect with them assuming being unresponsive will scare us off. Commonly we'll hear “I assumed my lack of response would have been an indication of my lack of interest". Nope, but you could have saved everyone some time by just responding to my first attempt rather than waiting until the tenth. I guess you have to think of yourself as the naive girlfriend/boyfriend that just doesn't see the writing on the wall. Unless you’re specifically told "we're not a fit" they'll just keep showing up at your door. Hmmmm.. I suppose in retrospect that explains why cold calling came somewhat naturally to me. 

Even with this mentality you still may not always receive a response. As we all know there are going to be cases that no matter what you do, people are still not going to get back to you. The solution is simply to bring in at least two other contacts in your calling rotation. By casting a wider net into multiple contacts, you'll decrease the time drain focused on one contact and greatly increase the chances of a response.

Recently I was talking with a new client who polled their outside team on what they felt was an adequate amount of touches before they moved on from a lead. The average response was 5. Needless to say they recognized this as a serious problem and reached out to us soon after.

If you have the luxury of receiving more leads than your inside and outside team can handle, good for you. My answer would be to hire another person to handle the overflow. I have a hard time grasping the concept that some organizations allow leads to fester. Our mindset is you continuously follow up on everything unless it’s obvious junk.

We do have a skewed perspective on this at AG since we are rarely working off of warm lists, but if you are only touching a lead 5 times then you need to revisit how you’re following up. Put some thought into implementing a defined process to allow you the peace of mind that an adequate amount of effort has been put in to getting your prospect on the phone. No matter how you slice it, whether you're working with a warm lead or a cold list, 5 touches is not acceptable and will net you a rather meek looking forecast.


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