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How to Sell Persistently Without Alienating Your Leads

Timing is everything when it comes to business. It could be the difference between closing a potential new client and being hung up and eventually ignored.

It’s not expected that you’ll connect with a sales lead on your first outreach call attempt. It could take a few attempts, and as research suggests, it can take as many as 18 calls before you reach a lead on the phone for the first time to make your elevator pitch. Of course, this depends on many hard to plan for variables and circumstances, but it’s one example of why it can be difficult for businesses to master the sales prospecting process. 

In this post, we’ll discuss and cover everything that you’ll need to know about making sales calls to prospects, and more importantly, making sales calls that lead to converting new clients for your business. While every business will have a slightly different prospecting strategy, there are definitely tips and best practices that are similar and can help you and your business along the way make better, more profitable decisions. 

Before diving deeper into that, let’s take a quick glance at the state of sales, broken down by the numbers. 

Sales stats at a glance

According to HubSpot and Spotio:    • 40% of all sales professionals say prospecting is the most difficult part of their job     • Currently, only 3% of all clients trust sales representatives    • 80% of sales require at least five follow-up calls, while as many as 44% of sales agents give up after a single follow-up (two total calls)    • Buyers report being more likely to accept a sales call if it’s made at a previously agreed-upon time    • It can take as many as 18 calls to connect with a potential client

The case for sales calls to prospects can be confusing. However, it helps to understand where things stand so that you know how to be successful and grow your business. And in answering the question of how long to wait between making attempted calls, you’ll be able to find the right balance of being persistent without annoying your sales leads.

There is also plenty of available data that can help guide your prospect outreach planning, too.

Now, let’s actually talk about the sales outreach process itself and making sales calls to leads.

Making the call

When you make the first sales call, you’ll want to be ready for any potential outcome resulting from the call. Be just as prepared to have the call answered by your lead and deliver your elevator pitch similarly to leaving a message and trying them again later. And that’s the million-dollar question for your business—how much later?

There are consultants and experts that are paid well to answer that question for you but be careful of applying a one-size-fits-all approach to your outreach strategy as every lead and customer will be unique, as is usually the case with just about everything else in life. However, when you make the initial sales call, you’ll want to be prepared to open the door to a new relationship and potential new client by being friendly and personable. Too often, sales reps immediately try to sell and close the caller, which causes them to be quickly shut down before the prospect even knows they’re being sold. They’ll use convenient excuses like “I’m busy” or “this isn’t a good time right now” to hurry you off the phone and will likely never answer your future calls.

If a lead doesn’t answer your call on your first attempt, you should leave a pleasant but detailed voicemail if there’s an option to do so. Invite the lead to directly call you back or advise them that you’d be happy to speak with them at a time that works best for them. This way, you’re giving your prospect options and a sense of control in the situation by empowering them. Many people will change their decision simply by being offered the option of multiple potential next steps.

Follow-up by delivering on expectations

While most clients expect an answer to an inquiry from a business within 10 minutes or less, in most cases, they give a bit more flexibility when it comes to ongoing contact and communications. Business experts suggest that you should allow for 48 hours after you call a prospect before reaching out to them again. This ensures you’ve allowed an appropriate waiting period to accommodate their busy schedule without coming off as annoying or desperate. It also gives your leads time to review your information and evaluate if your product or service is best for them.

You can also let leads know that they can reach out to you anytime and that they can do so via several communication channels. Give them options so they can choose what’s best for them, likely increasing your chances of receiving a return response. And unless you’ve been specifically contacted or requested to return a call immediately, don’t call the same prospect twice on the same day. It just leaves a bad taste in the lead’s mouth because it often comes off as being too pushy and desperate.

The right balance, it seems, is somewhere between 24 and 48 hours for secondary and subsequent follow-up calls. For example, if you’ve already called your lead twice this week, you might want to consider waiting until the following week for another outreach attempt. It’s a delicate balancing act of perspective here, and you’ve got to see what works best for you and your business. By taking stock of how well your follow-up call goes, you can often get a better understanding of what works best for you and your team.

Of course, one way to make sure that all sales outreach calls are being made (and received) in a timely manner is to let someone else handle the grunt work for you and your team. Outsourced answering services give you the option to have a professional, well-qualified team on your side that understands all that comes with making effective follow-up sales calls, support calls, and more to keep your business operational. If you decide that you’d rather leave the callbacks to someone else while you focus on your existing customers, this will ensure that every call is being returned in the right amount of time and with the best possible outcome in mind.

Now that you have a better understanding of being persistent without being annoying with your sales leads, start calling away!

  Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. Smith.ai’s 24/7 virtual receptionists and live chat agents capture and convert leads by phone, website chat, texts, and Facebook. You can follow Smith.ai on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Learn more about Smith.Ai and other companies like them at next year's Call & Contact Center Expo!   Be on the lookout for more information about next year's show!!