How to Follow Up with Leads


You are likely to hear the same comments over and over when you are following up on Leads, regardless of whether you are selling Life Insurance policies or Grand Pianos.  Having a plan to handle each situation that comes up is a lot better than just moving on to the next lead and hoping for a Lay Down Sale on the next one.

Here are some tips to help you.  The negative responses will tend to fall into just a few categories:

“I just bought one yesterday.”

“I don’t remember doing whatever it was that made you think I was a Lead.”  Returning a postcard, filling out a form, talking to someone about it, whatever it was.

“I did the thing, but not because I was interested.  I just wanted the free hammer (or whatever).” Yeah, it happens.

“I just wanted a free quote!”

Or you can’t reach them even after multiple tries.


“I just bought a policy yesterday!”

If you are like a lot of salespeople, your heart just sank.  SO CLOSE! If I had called yesterday, that would have been a sale!

Here is an approach one agent uses to flip a decent percentage from a dead lead into an easy sale.

“May I ask you a favor?  Would you let me check it over?  For two reasons, you wouldn’t have bought the policy from them if you didn’t like them, but I probably have more options than they did, so I might be able to get you a better policy, and just to keep an honest person honest and make sure they did all the paperwork correctly.  Do you mind, it will only take a few minutes?”

This approach works because you offered to help them, without challenging the wisdom of their original decision.


“I don’t remember doing whatever it was that made you think I was a Lead.”  Returning a postcard, filling out a form, talking to someone about it, whatever it was.

That’s frustrating, right?  Many salespeople have had the experience of standing in front of someone and showing them the postcard that they filled out and signed, and having the person deny doing it.  It is tempting to argue with them, that yes, they really did do whatever it was, but that’s not likely to get you anywhere for two reasons; Number one they may remember and just be trying to get out of the conversation, and number two, even if you manage to get them to agree that they are a Lead, that’s not a great way to get someone interested in talking to you.  So here is what I recommend: Ask them, “If I could show you a (whatever you are selling) that did (this wonderful thing), would you be interested in hearing more about it?” If they say yes to that, you can continue with a willing participant, and if they say no to that, there probably isn’t anything you can say to change their mind.

“I filled out the form (or whatever) but I just wanted to see what would happen.” Or “I just wanted the free hammer.”  You can get frustrated at them for wasting the expense of you buying the Lead or even mailing them a free hammer, but that isn’t likely to be productive.  Instead, treat them the same way you would if you denied being a Lead and ask them, “If I could show you a (whatever you are selling) that did (this wonderful thing), would you be interested in hearing more about it?”  If they say yes to that, you can continue with a willing participant, and if they say no to that, you are out the cost of a hammer and you can move on.


“I just wanted a free quote!”  That can be frustrating, here you thought this person was a Lead, but they just wanted a free quote.  Ok, now think about that for a second, they took time out of their life to find out what it cost. Why would they do that if they weren’t interested in buying it?  The answer is that they wouldn’t ask about the price of something unless they found something attractive about it. So go back to the beginning, if you were selling them Life insurance you might say, “And of course I am happy to give you a free quote, let me ask you this, when you pass away, is there someone in particular that will be responsible for paying for your funeral?”  And transition the conversation back to the benefits of what you are selling.


Not being able to reach them can be frustrating too.  You almost wish they would answer the phone and tell you no, so you could quit wasting time trying to reach them.

You have five variables you can work with, the number of times you try to reach them, the time of the day and day of the week you try to reach them, the probability of them answering the phone, the probability of them calling you back and the way you contact them.

How many times should you try?  

The short answer is as many times as you can, within the allotted time.  Let’s say you are only using the phone to reach them and you get 20 Leads a day and have enough time to make 100 dials a day on follow-up.  Each day you want to start with the freshest Leads and work your way toward the older Leads until you run out of time for the day. Let’s say you reach 25% of Leads the first day.  The remaining 15 Leads get put in the follow-up pool. The second pass on those Leads might result in you reaching three more, leaving 12 in the follow-up pool. But each day you are adding 20 more fresh Leads.  You will probably have enough time to call each Lead six to ten times, depending on your contact rate.

What is the best time of the day to follow-up?

You want to follow-up when they are most likely to be home and awake, which is Weekdays from 11:30am to 1pm and 5pm to 9pm and Saturday mornings from 10am to 1pm, in their time zone.  Many salespeople have success on Sunday afternoon as well.

In less populated areas, the earlier in the evening seems to be better, in more densely populated areas the later evening hours tend to be better.


How can I get them to answer the darn phone?

Calling at the right time of day and broadcasting a real, local caller ID are the two best ways that you can control.  Companies like Phone Burner will not only allow you to automatically leave your voicemail message when they don’t answer but will allow you to make 3-5 times more dials per hour with less effort and they will set you up with a real, local caller ID in each area code and that makes a big difference in the percentage of prospects that will answer their phone.  Getting Leads that are all cell phones will help, if that is an option. A double call will often help, calling them back again immediately will sometimes make them curious what is so important that you would call twice that quickly. Some people try first by broadcasting their caller ID, then calling immediately again while blocking their caller ID. My guess is the main benefit comes from just trying them twice, but you can try it and see what you think.

How do I get them to call me back?

First let’s start with the myth that they never call you back.  It doesn’t as often as everyone wishes, but there are some things you can do to improve your odds.  One is broadcast an accurate caller ID. Another is to leave a message that gives them something to respond to.  

For example, let’s say you sell term life insurance.  That’s about as tough as it gets, right? If you just say, “I want to give you a quote.” You aren’t promising anything they can’t get from anyone else.  But if you left a message that said, “We have a term policy that you can sell for cash if you don’t die, so instead of just getting cheap life insurance, you can get some money out of it when you retire if you don’t die.”  Now you are giving them something to respond to, which increases the chances they will call you back.

How else can I reach them?

The Big Three are texting, emailing and door knocking.  With texting and emailing, you want to make sure you are giving them something to respond to, just as you do when you leave a voicemail message.  With door knocking, it is usually as simple as “You filled out a form, I tried calling seven times and I couldn’t reach you, I happened to be driving through so I took a chance and dropped by.

Does Door Knocking work?

Yes, for most salespeople it has the highest close percentage, although it takes more time to drive somewhere than to just call.  But if you are working just a local area, the odds are that nothing will give you as high a close percentage as going out and knocking on their door.

How do I maximize the effectiveness of my Door Knocking?

Door knocking is a very effective way of maximizing your close rate because it’s harder to say no to someone face to face, which is why people sell face to face.  But it is time consuming to physically travel to people’s houses, so the key is to shorten the distance that you travel between homes that you visit. The way you do that is to organize your prospects first by zip code and then by neighborhood as you accumulate more Leads.  For additional effectiveness, after you knock on the Lead’s door, you can knock on their neighbor’s door to by just walking a few feet.

While you are driving down the road, listen to any sort of self-improvement or educational programs to give yourself some productive windshield time.