How many follow ups are too many?

31 replies
Two weeks ago a woman called me asking about updating their website and providing SEO. I sent her a proposal which she said she liked but had something she had to check first. But she said she's 90% sure she was going to use me.

Throughout the two weeks I sent a couple of emails and left a couple of voicemails. All were friendly and just saying I was doing a follow up.

She still hasn't gotten back to me.

How many times should I keep contacting her until I figure she's a dead lead? I usually get some sort of answer even if it's "no thanks" and never really had to deal with no response at all.

Thanks.

Mike
#follow #ups
  • Profile picture of the author David Miller
    I would contact her one more time and let her know that it's your last attempt. I've used this approach many times and it does work enough of the time that I continue to use it when the situation I'm in is what you've described.

    In my opinion, what she's done is just rude and shows a complete lack of professionalism. Many times it's just as well, as people like this are not the type that I want to do business with. If they don't have the common decency to return a call, or reply to an email, I have to wonder how they will respond to an invoice. With that in mind, when I do get a response back with this method, I insist on payment in advance. Depending on the service, full payment may not be possible, but I always make it enough to show that there is a real committment on their part.
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    • Profile picture of the author lint631
      Originally Posted by David Miller View Post

      In my opinion, what she's done is just rude and shows a complete lack of professionalism. Many times it's just as well, as people like this are not the type that I want to do business with. If they don't have the common decency to return a call, or reply to an email, I have to wonder how they will respond to an invoice. With that in mind, when I do get a response back with this method, I insist on payment in advance. Depending on the service, full payment may not be possible, but I always make it enough to show that there is a real committment on their part.
      I 100% agree with this. People don't even have to call these days, they can send a 1 line email. I was working on a JV with a local business and the guy was totally into it. I've emailed him 2X and called 1X. No response. It's probably better off.
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  • Profile picture of the author YasirYar
    Originally Posted by 512 Designs View Post

    Two weeks ago a woman called me asking about updating their website and providing SEO. I sent her a proposal which she said she liked but had something she had to check first. But she said she's 90% sure she was going to use me.

    Throughout the two weeks I sent a couple of emails and left a couple of voicemails. All were friendly and just saying I was doing a follow up.

    She still hasn't gotten back to me.

    How many times should I keep contacting her until I figure she's a dead lead? I usually get some sort of answer even if it's "no thanks" and never really had to deal with no response at all.

    Thanks.

    Mike
    I never send more than 1 follow up, and this is only after the 3rd days when I send out the initial email.

    Normally the client replies to it and signs up.

    Chances are, if they arent replying after 1 follow up, they wont reply at all.
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  • Profile picture of the author gdale19
    Originally Posted by 512 Designs View Post

    Two weeks ago a woman called me asking about updating their website and providing SEO. I sent her a proposal which she said she liked but had something she had to check first. But she said she's 90% sure she was going to use me.

    Throughout the two weeks I sent a couple of emails and left a couple of voicemails. All were friendly and just saying I was doing a follow up.

    She still hasn't gotten back to me.

    How many times should I keep contacting her until I figure she's a dead lead? I usually get some sort of answer even if it's "no thanks" and never really had to deal with no response at all.

    Thanks.

    Mike
    Mike here is the beginning of the e mail and the voice mail script I would leave your prospect. I use it selling to Attorneys all day long and if they are going to ever call you then this will get them to do it otherwise they are never going to call you.


    "I have tried to reach you a few times. I understand that you are busy. It is not my intention to become a pest so this will be my final attempt to reach you. If I don't hear back from you, I wish you much future success."

    From the cubical of:
    Greg
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    • Profile picture of the author lint631
      Originally Posted by gdale19 View Post

      "I have tried to reach you a few times. I understand that you are busy. It is not my intention to become a pest so this will be my final attempt to reach you. If I don't hear back from you, I wish you much future success."
      Thanks for this one, I may have to use it in the future. Like someone else mentioned your time could be spent getting clients that are interested instead of the ones you constantly have to chase. A few calls and emails and then I'm done.
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  • Profile picture of the author Stan
    I have a rule to never do more than two.
    First by mail, then the second one through the phone (not their voicemail).

    After that it's up to them. If you keep calling it will only come across as uncertain and insecure
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  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    The key is not to follow up too often.

    A good formula for a schedule is this...
    24-72hrs later
    1 week after first contact
    2 weeks
    1 month
    Monthly from there if you think they are interested.

    The key is not to seem desperate and multiple calls in a week look that way but also to show you want their business.

    When you give up has to be based on your gut. And note like greg gave above is a perfect way to send that final contact.
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    • Originally Posted by Aaron Doud View Post

      The key is not to follow up too often.

      A good formula for a schedule is this...
      24-72hrs later
      1 week after first contact
      2 weeks
      1 month
      Monthly from there if you think they are interested.

      The key is not to seem desperate and multiple calls in a week look that way but also to show you want their business.

      When you give up has to be based on your gut. And note like greg gave above is a perfect way to send that final contact.
      I agree with you Aaron. Yeah I fill like most of the rest but I pretty much consider a lead a lead if it came about through a planned prospecting response initially. So I swallow my pride and do what is good for business.

      I have learned over a long period that enough of the no responses do pan out and add to the positive revenue flow.

      Of course there are very obvious judgements on your part that may disqualify them. Here's another statement that many will poo poo. I follow up on the no's also. Not a pest or spam but a professional follow up on a 4-6 week basis. Especially if I deem them as a potentially lucrative account.

      Things change in their business and if they fire their current IT custodian they will have you in mind. I have had companies call me saying they had fired or were not happy with their current provider's service and would I talk to them.

      I'm sure some of you have heard of Chet Holmes. He has a book The Ultimate Sales Machine that is a fairly easy read and he says it takes on average 5 no's to get a yes. He would approve of Aaron's method by the way I believe. Also he and Dan Kennedy would tell you not only to get their email address when prospecting also get their fax. Virtually every business still use fax machines. A fax carries more weight than an email usually.

      Hey we like to think that the pool of potential prospects is unlimited maybe so maybe not depends on what you are marketing and how you service it. Are you in Smallville or Metropolis? Keep working prospects. It's what the big boys do. Must be something to it.

      Old Dog
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      • Profile picture of the author Jgregory
        Just had to bring these great points out again in the quote box. In my experience, You are dead on correct with all of these

        Originally Posted by Old Dog New Tricks View Post

        ....I swallow my pride and do what is good for business. Old Dog
        Pride goeth... and all that. Have to agree, and you were ahead of me on my other post up there. No one is saying it, but I wonder how much this fuels the "dump her" attitude.

        Originally Posted by Old Dog New Tricks View Post

        ...learned over a long period that enough of the no responses do pan out and add to the positive revenue flow. Old Dog
        Yes, I concur with you on this too... because the universal law can kick in later, Stuff Happens.

        Originally Posted by Old Dog New Tricks View Post

        ...many will poo poo. I follow up on the no's also. Not a pest or spam but a professional follow up on a 4-6 week basis
        Old Dog
        And most of my No's are not really firm No's... they just can't get off the fence and my probing and answers are not working. Many prospects find it psychologically difficult to give you a simple No or a Yes, even when they desparately want to say Yes! Its that Lizard Brain working, Fear. Fear of the unknown. What if something better comes along. The word NO is powerful stuff psychologically.

        Brings up a salient point from static IM selling on a landing page. By simply adding a "No. Not Interested" button to a landing page, we've increased conversion substantially on many products.

        We are just overcoming the Lizard Brain with the oldest close in the books. Either Or. The No Thanks button forces a decision.

        Stupid as it sounds the No button works time and again and I use the same device in direct mail sales letters. I put in 2 phone numbers... a Yes phone number if you want the Analysis/Report/DVD and a No phone number if you don't want us to call you again.

        This goes against all conventional wisdom and "common sense" but it works. I'd say there is something psychologically working we might call a "Negative Yes". For those people who cannot overcome their fear of commitment, offering them the easy opportunity to say No makes a decision happen

        In fact, I recall that my first marriage began under similiar circumstances because I was consumed with a young man's fear of commitment.

        Originally Posted by Old Dog New Tricks View Post

        ...not only to get their email address when prospecting also get their fax. Virtually every business still use fax machines. A fax carries more weight than an email usually.Old Dog
        Fax. Really glad you brought this up. I'd say a personalized merged Fax gets 20 times the respect of a postal letter and 1000 times more than a personal email. Particularly for the assistants and gatekeepers who hand deliver the fax to a decision maker for you.

        * 100's of 1000's of businesses still rely on fax capability every day. In many segments that's the normal communication channel for vendors

        * Faxes are Hard Copy. They tend to stay around on the decision-makers desk for a long time.

        * Sending your Prospect a Fax followup is cheap. And having your own business Fax number(business cards, letterhead) makes you a REAL business in the eyes of the recipient, even when you operate from home.

        * If you use a CRM such as Sage Act, then simple addins make sending a personalized merged fax as easy as one click and it's done. You can also get online hosted fax numbers for sending and receiving for a few dollars a month.

        When I am segmenting target lists for telemarketing campaigns, its amazing how many fax numbers are in the data. They are there ready to use the powerful communication channel after first contact

        You can send faxes to any business you have a prior relationship established... but please don't go fax blasting to cold prospects and end up in hot water


        Originally Posted by Old Dog New Tricks View Post

        Hey we like to think that the pool of potential prospects is unlimited maybe so maybe not depends on what you are marketing and how you service it.
        Often forgotten in the churn and burn mentality of IM. Everything is finite, and the pool of extremely qualified prospects is way smaller than we assume. You are your own worst enemy if you burn through a good targeted list hoping to get lucky.
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  • Profile picture of the author globalpro
    Mike,

    I would make this last email a 'still checking', but also say that if/when she decides to proceed, you are ready. The problem I find is people can get distracted, and while I am not into chasing them, at least I leave them with the option to get back with me.

    From there, it's your call on if you carry on from there.

    From there I am done, but have and them come back at a later date and want to continue on. Almost always it's got distracted, had to rethink or something else.

    I do like to leave the door open and things on a good note (at least on my part).

    Thanks,

    John
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  • Profile picture of the author Marvin Johnston
    I think David and Greg nailed your answer. But I would not have followed up more than twice with the third time being what they suggested.

    We do have a choice in the type of people we work with.

    Marvin
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    She lied to you, or got hit by a car.

    Chasing prospects isn't a worthwhile use of your time. It's best to work with people who have an urgent need for what you offer.

    If they don't respond at the time you agreed on for follow-up...they've probably disappeared to find what you do at the lowest price.

    Leave this message (you're gonna have to be Tough!):

    "Hi ________,

    "My gut tells me that you are not interested in doing _____________ with my firm. I have not heard from you regarding the next step. Usually when this occurs I typically find it is for one of two reasons. The first is that the person is extremely busy. Or the second is that the person has no interest in pursuing the issue. So, I do not want to sound like the kid in the back of the car on a long trip saying "are we there yet", and I would appreciate it if you could please fill me in on whether or not you want to pursue ______________. Thank you."

    The key phrases are "my gut..." and "the kid in back of the car...".
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    • Profile picture of the author 512 Designs
      Thanks for all the replies and suggestions guys. I really like all of the email and voicemail suggestions. These will be great for future reference.

      I tried calling her yesterday (making it my final time) and she actually answered her phone. She said she's very non-techie and she's been researching and checking a few other places who do the same thing I do (SEO). She talked to a friend who told her to get a few prices for comparison.

      I explained for the second time exactly what I would do when I re-build her site and what I do monthly for SEO work. She said she'll let me know sometime next week.

      I may or may not follow up with her again if I don't hear from her by the end of next week. It will depend on how busy I am at the time.

      Thanks again for everyone's suggestions. I'll keep you posted with how it goes.

      Mike
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  • Profile picture of the author Kunle Olomofe
    For me there's no one size fits all answer to this. Some prospects need more nursing than others. Some really want to buy but get caught up by other issues, life, business etc. I bumped into a client I thought was no longer interested in going on while I was waiting for another client in a hotel lobby yesterday. I had followed up with her so many times and could have easily written her off. Turns out she's going through a very bad separation/divorce is why she never got back in touch whenever I called or texted. Seeing me got her blood flowing again and now we're back to work in a few days. She thinks this will help take her mind off her issues.

    Another prospect who got an invoice from me hadn't paid it in almost 2 weeks. I followed up more times than I normally would. Turns out their accountant was at fault, well sort of, they had been trying to pay with some issues at the bank. They didn't let their boss or me know. The boss had it rectified immediately, the payment is coming in tomorrow.

    Another client was interested but needed a few calls, texts and emails, to get him to start. He's started now. Turns out he is the busiest client I have, he's always on the phone closing deals (he's in the real estate biz and does big deals daily, too busy). The client who referred him to me told me as much after I complained he wasn't getting back to me on time or at all. He apologized and he's paid now and we're on.

    2 prospects referred by a client have gone AWOL. I always get back to the clients who refer clients to update them on how the deal is going since they have a vested interest in making sure things go well, their name is on the line too. This client called his friends, found out one of them is out of town on business, so can't be reached till he's back. The other may be the victim of the PA syndrome, his PA may be the reason he's not getting my messages anymore... had contact with him directly but was forwarded to work with his PA. My PA at the time, and his PA never gelled and now I have to come back in. The client who referred him promised to get to the bottom of it and said I should have not gone through the PA anymore after some time, turns out that PA may have been let go and I never knew!

    Bottom line, I write off a few prospects when I can see clearly they are just not serious or interested. Other times I give the benefit of the doubt if I can't get a good reason to cut them off.

    Go with your gut, not a script or a one size fits all. It's business, not personal. The day I realized that, I started closing more sales. I still get human sometimes and take things personally--but I always try to get back on track asap. It's business. Things will stall from time to time. Keep your eye on the ball though, and you should do fine.

    Cheers,

    Kunle
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  • Profile picture of the author globalpro
    Kunle,

    Agreed. Usually we don't understand 'life happens' until we are going through it.

    The biggest thing that helped me with having this problem happen is to always maintain the 'it's not personal, it's just business'. Has helped me from feeling put out when I have put effort into doing my part and no response.

    Thanks,

    John
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  • IF you are a sales person you can follow so many you become annoying. But if you position yourself as a consultant then you can't follow up 2 many times.

    Reports show that 80% of sales are done on the 58th contact
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    • Profile picture of the author jimbo13
      Originally Posted by prostarprofitsdotcom View Post

      IF you are a sales person you can follow so many you become annoying. But if you position yourself as a consultant then you can't follow up 2 many times.

      Reports show that 80% of sales are done on the 58th contact
      Get a new report.

      Dan
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    • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
      Originally Posted by prostarprofitsdotcom View Post

      IF you are a sales person you can follow so many you become annoying. But if you position yourself as a consultant then you can't follow up 2 many times.

      Reports show that 80% of sales are done on the 58th contact
      WTF

      I'm really starting to wonder if this is a troll account.
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  • Profile picture of the author RentItNow
    If I had to guess I would say she was using you to play against a competitor. Done a lot. Part of business. Doesn't make it right but I would brush it off...many more fish...
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    I have no agenda but to help those in the same situation. This I feel will pay the bills.
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  • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
    I was recently on a webinar with this guy who is killing it in the offline market.

    He went from having one employee to 22 in 18 months, so I think he's a reliable source.

    Anyways, he read a study from a company that is essentially a big lead source for large companies, and their studies showed that prospects that were contacted 6 times in a 12 day period had the highest conversion rate, and converted 500% BETTER then those that were only contacted twice.

    A big thing he mentioned was to have a complete follow-up sales system in place. Don't just play it by ear, have a system of phone calls and e-mails that you hammer them with.

    Rinse and repeat!
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    • Profile picture of the author 512 Designs
      Hey gang,

      For any of you who were following this tread, I wanted to let you know that I got an email today from the woman who I wrote this tread about (who wouldn't call me back).

      Her email says that she decided to hire me to redesign her site and do monthly SEO for her. I'm meeting her next week to talk about the details.

      So I guess with this particular client, a few extra follow ups actually worked.

      Mike
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      • Profile picture of the author Jgregory
        Originally Posted by 512 Designs View Post

        Hey gang,

        For any of you who were following this tread, I wanted to let you know that I got an email today from the woman who I wrote this tread about (who wouldn't call me back).

        Her email says that she decided to hire me to redesign her site and do monthly SEO for her. I'm meeting her next week to talk about the details.

        So I guess with this particular client, a few extra follow ups actually worked.

        Mike
        Hi Mike, glad to see this. Congratulations. I'm one of those that feels like following up on truly interested leads is worthwhile enough to keep at it. To put into perspective, you did a genuine proposal here after speaking with her and analyzing the needs. She also called you. And you had something in the pipeline, so this sound like much more than my definition of a prospect. I would certainly have kept following up... small investment.

        And yet, either she respected your effort and professionalism, or she was just tire-kicking. Problem is... All too often, they don't telegraph their reasons for 'putting you off' and not coming to a decision. Can be many things. Turns out in your case, she just hadn't finished the shopping trip

        However, if you can polish up your sales skills... I recommend you try to be proactive with the stallers in your sales process. Take them right to the mat with direct conversations or with voicemail messages. After the work you did, there's nothing wrong with being insistent about a meeting. And there can be hidden objections behind the putting off behavior... money issues you can solve with payment splits for instance. Again, leaving those voicemails that were not returned cost you little time, so in the end it paid off to hang in there.

        A lot of this comes down to it being a website... I stopped doing them as a service long ago, but I remember all too well how personal the issues were. For us its just a website, for them it can be huge... for small owners the website is often more about personal vanity than business, so they sweat all the details, including the first choice of who is going to do it.
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  • Profile picture of the author sonix
    Nice! Most of the time you have to follow up a few times. Usually they are really busy, or they are just not sure if they want to spend the money. You have to be firm sometimes and insist on meeting at the start. Glad it worked out for ya!
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  • Profile picture of the author Suthan M
    If a prospect says they are 99.9999% certain of using your service/buying your product, I suggest to not hold your breath on it.

    The only time you can be certain, is when they PAY into your account.
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  • Profile picture of the author staffelseo
    Hi,

    For me follow up's more than 2 or 3 are not good. It might give you a bad impression to your prospect customer even though she told you that she will use you for her own business or she will have business transactions with you. The thing you must do is on the time you were talking to her, you must set up a meeting on when or where should the both of you talk, then follow up her before the said time. If your client is really interested to have you, she will contact you even if it will take a month or two. Just a suggestion.
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  • Profile picture of the author staffelseo
    Hi,

    For me follow up's more than 2 or 3 are not good. It might give you a bad impression to your prospect customer even though she told you that she will use you for her own business or she will have business transactions with you. The thing you must do is on the time you were talking to her, you must set up a meeting on when or where should the both of you talk, then follow up her before the said time. If your client is really interested to have you, she will contact you even if it will take a month or two. Just a suggestion.
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    • Interesting to me is that almost no one in this thread, on an internet marketing forum mentioned anything about dropping that lead into and AUTOMATED follow-up system.

      It doesn't make sense to me that if I spend our time to meet with a person in the first place, that I wouldn't keep that person, at least in my automated follow up pool, FOREVER, until they "DIE, BUY or....unsubscribe"...unless or until they disqualify themselves from consideration as a person I'd be willing to work with (that's another story).

      Using automated follow up costs me practically ZERO, but demonstrates that I value my time, and gives me the opportunity to maintain contact with potential clients, some of whom are so overwhelmed with trying to keep up, they barely remember if they turned off the coffee pot when they left the house!

      Can some of these clients turn out to be more trouble than they are "worth"? Absolutely. Every now and then, though, they can also turn into the MOST GRATEFUL and MOST WILLING TO REFER more business to the person that demonstrates a willingness and ability to work with them and delivery results under challenging circumstances.

      The trick, at first, is sniffing out who goes into my "too hard pile" vs "the diamond in disguise". An automated system can help plug the holes if I happen to have guessed wrong
      ....Another reason why there is so much opportunity out here. There is someone for everyone and a million ways to get the results we're after.

      Congrats, by the way, Mike.

      -Creative Producer, aka Carrie
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      • Profile picture of the author Jgregory
        Originally Posted by creative producer View Post

        Interesting to me is that almost no one in this thread, on an internet marketing forum mentioned anything about dropping that lead into and AUTOMATED follow-up system.
        You're right, I just assumed(wrongly) that everyone would be using Sage Act, SalesForce, or other CRM, to keep deals on auto-pilot followup.

        So, I stay with followups since a tickler reminder tells me its time to push a button and send the email. And it can be fully automated too in an AR series, but CRM's make it painless to crank out followup emails and phone calls with an autopilot reminder system

        While this an individual decision... when to quit on followups... for me, I have to be careful with the feeling I should drop a followup, since perhaps its tied to my own silly ego. That sneaks up from time to time... "what's wrong with these people, don't they realize what a good deal this is and how brilliant I am?" Silly, yes, but all too human I suppose... and forgetting that stuff happens in your prospect's life to get in the way of a decision.
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  • Profile picture of the author jaduty
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  • Profile picture of the author elitebag
    After twice to 3 times you call or email without response,then you no need call again .If she really want to do ,she will reply after twice following ups
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    • Profile picture of the author terip
      Originally Posted by elitebag View Post

      After twice to 3 times you call or email without response,then you no need call again .If she really want to do ,she will reply after twice following ups
      I'd go with this one as well. If after 2 - 3 times they still didn't confirm your follow-up then they are most probably a dead lead... If, by some unknown reason, that they are not able to read/listen to your follow-up as of the moment then they will reply after they have seen your message. Just stop with the follow-ups lest they be annoyed by it.

      Here's my experience. I tried looking for another company to outsource a task to, but for the next 3 days(?) I have to leave for a trip in which case I can't check my e-mails. Next thing I knew when I came back, my inbox was flooded with messages from their address. I got annoyed and marked their address as spam.
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  • Profile picture of the author danielsteven
    If it doesn't take up too much of your time or get in the way of any other prospecting you would be doing, I personally would not stop checking up until she said "we arent' going to use you". I don't ever give up on a lead until they either say "yes" or "no". You'll be surprised at how many people just get wrapped up in their business and sometimes a proposal about SEO is the last thing on their mind.

    Just my opinion and what I have found to work.
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