3 Classic Follow Up Mistakes Most People Make With Their Sales Calls

Here’s the challenge: you’ve spoken to a potential client in the past, and now they’ve come up again in your follow up list.

Now, depending on the quality of your follow up call, the opportunity for you to do business can be won or lost at this point. Which puts a lot of pressure on you for this call, doesn’t it?

It won’t surprise you to learn that the majority of follow up calls that I hear made are fairly poor so here are a few mistakes you need to avoid, in order to get more business from your calls.

Mistake Number 1 – Being Desperate and Lying

Now I know we’re in sales, or have to do sales as part of our role, and sometimes we may have to bend the truth a little on occasion, but I’m not sure that outright lying helps our cause as a professional, trying to build profitable business relationships.

An example of a call I heard made earlier this month went like this: “Hello Mr X, we spoke 3 months ago and you asked me to call back today to make an appointment with you”.

Why was this so bad? Not only because the potential client hadn’t said anything of the sort, but also because the salesperson had never even spoken to the client before!

What could that potentially do to your credibility in the eyes of the potential client, and, if you’re speaking to a decision maker with any level of authority, expect to be challenged on it quite strongly with something like “No we did not” or “I don’t remember that” – leading to either an argument or a rapid climb-down on your part – and probably the end of the call.

Now whilst the above statement by the salesperson is quite unusual, it does have a similar, more common cousin – the “Hi we spoke 3 months ago and you asked me to call you back today”. Usually said by salespeople who are desperate and don’t have a better opening statement or in their misguided belief that lying will help get them rapport with the decision maker – not likely!

Mistake Number 2 – Talking About Literature or Emails

The biggest mistake I see most people make when they follow up literature or an email is when they say something like: “Hi Andy, it’s Fred from XYZ company, we recently sent you some literature. I’m just calling up to make sure you received it.”

Let’s think about this for a minute. What are the two most likely responses from a decision maker that you don’t have that much rapport with? Something like “No I didn’t, would you please go through the same rigmarole again, just for my amusement?” Or how about the other option: “Yes I did, and I’ve got all the information I need right now, thank you”.

Where on earth are you going to take the call now?

Even if you’ve sent literature and been lucky enough to get the decision maker to take the call you run the risk of the call being very short, with another call back scheduled for a later point in time, but without having moved forwards with the prospect in any way.

Mistake Number 3 – Having Endless Call-Backs

This is another big mistake that many people make without even realising it. Far too many salespeople either end their previous call badly or without a defined outcome. What kind of impact do you think that has on the potential success of their next call?

How do you think this affects your attitude when the call comes up in your call back list? Might the fact you got nothing from the first call and the person won’t even remember you in some cases play on your mind a little?

If you’re like most people, of course you have! One of the reasons for this cherry-picking is that you know you got nothing from the call last time and you’re worried that the same will happen this time and you’ll ruin the prospect.

Also, because your attitude has been affected, might that affect your confidence in making the follow up call a little? Perhaps less likely to handle objections well and give up too easily? You bet!

Therefore, most follow up calls start something like this: “Hello Mr X, we spoke about 3 months ago about you xyz and I was just calling to see how things are going for you at the moment”.

Awful! Let’s imagine you were the senior decision maker you were trying to reach with that statement. What would you think of a call like that, that interrupted you doing whatever you were doing to take the call? That it has real importance and value for your business? Or that it’s pretty much a waste of your time, exactly like most of the other calls you receive on a day-to-day basis? My guess is for the second one.

Is it any wonder that the response decision makers give to that sort of opening is something like “Things are fine. What do you want?” Now we’re under even more pressure, aren’t we, and it’s pretty hard to rescue the call from here.

So, if you’re about to do a follow up call session, or try and reach people you’ve spoken to in the past, make sure you don’t make any of the mistakes shown above and you’ll have far greater successes with your calls!


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