I find myself doing a lot of follows up with prospects after I have presented to them in order to close the deal, yet in certain cases I keep getting "call me in 2 weeks" OR "I need buy in from the CXO, I'll contact you when I have done so" yet I rarely here back from them.
I have been in sales my whole life and I know very well that thorough follow ups are part of the game, but sometimes I think too much follow up is also not good. One needs to learn when to throw in the towel with a given prospect and call it a day.
So I ask all of you, when do you realize that enough is enough?
I suggest looking at the price of the product / service that your selling. Track how long previous sales take and get an average, note how fast and how long it takes. Then there should be a distribution of sales for how long and number of times to contact. Then calculate the customer aquisition cost and what each contact costs. So when they pass a certain point they are costing you more to aquire then its worth.
Obviously there is a point when it is costing you more to go after a customer then to go after a new prospoect. So I think some tracking on your part will get you to the right trade off for you.
It is more a question of knowing why they are not buying. Can you separate out the tyre kickers (who get 2 follow-ups) and then forgotten from the potential serious purchasers and clock why - not right time, no budget at present, etc? Then follow-up the second group when appropriate.
If they ask to follow-up in two weeks -- you better, even if you don't have much confidence. I spent the whole summer with someone asking to get in touch in couple of weeks or next month until finally he said their marketing objectives have changed... I did not have much hope by the end but in the end we parted on good terms because I did not hand-up on him. I think it is very subjective. you need to make that call and decide in each individual case, I am afraid.
In my mind, it should never be a question of 'if' you should follow up, just 'when'. If they ask for a 2 week follow up -that is a good sign in my book and I'd do exactly as they ask.
For weaker prospects, I would schedule a call further out. Something like this ...
You can think about automating follow up with your cold prospects. Try and get them to opt in to an email subscription list for example.
The only exception to this is someone who directly tells you they are not interested. Simply take them off your follow up list.
Just keep going until they buy or they give you a firm no.
Following up doesn't need to be obnoxious. Sending relevant articles to prospects can be a good way to keep in touch without having to ask for the sale explicitly. Come up with useful ways to stay in touch which adds value.
I use 7 follow ups as my limit, and I always follow through up to that line unless the prospect specifically asks me not to.
If you do some quick Google searches you'll find a number of articles discussing follow up limits, but most will say > 5 follow ups is a good rule. I'm not suggesting you should be pushy (always be polite, always vary your follow-up approach) but I am saying you should be consistent and diligent.
Also, I find having a specific target number (7 in my case) helps keep me motivated to keep to it. You already said you know it's a numbers game - you just need to know what number you're aiming for :)