80% of writers settle for closing just 10% of their potential sales.

The Single Most Critical — and Common — Mistake in Getting Clients

Whether you’re a brand-new web copywriter or have years of experience under your belt, I know this about you:  You need clients.

Without clients, you don’t have a business.

Getting clients is vital. Yet, most business owners — and we copywriters aren’t immune — are making one single, big mistake when it comes to getting clients…

We focus only on those prospects who are ready and willing to hire us right now. We forget that “no” doesn’t mean “not ever.” It just means “not now.”

We stop following up before that “not now” becomes a “yes.”

That’s right. The single most critical — and common — mistake in getting clients is not following up enough.

The general consensus among sales experts is that:

  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact
  • 3% of sales are made after 2 contacts
  • 5% of sales are made after 3 contacts
  • 10% of sales are made after 4 contacts
  • 80% of sales are made after 5-12 contacts

How many times do YOU contact or follow up with a prospect?

Most people — an estimated 80% — contact their prospects just three times, or even fewer.

  • 44% of sales people give up after the first contact and never follow up
  • 22% give up after just 2 contacts
  • 14% give up after 3 contacts
  • 12% give up after 4 contacts

If you do the math, that means 80% of us are settling for closing just 10% of our sales (by contacting our prospects 3 times or less). That means we’re getting just one new client out of every 10 leads.

But, we can change that by following up more.

Sounds simple, right? Easy. If it were, more people would be doing it.

The problem most people face with follow-up is not knowing what to say. Let’s face it, repeatedly asking, “Are you ready yet?” or — even worse — only saying, “Hire me. Hire me. HIRE ME!” just doesn’t work.

These messages come across as desperate and needy instead of helpful and caring about your prospect’s best interests rather than your own.

On the other hand, taking the time to thoughtfully plan and develop a robust follow-up system of 5-12 contacts can dramatically improve your chances of success.

An Effective Follow-Up System Might Look Like This:

Contact #1 is the initial contact, where you discuss the problem your prospect is facing and prescribe/propose a solution.

Contact #2 is the first follow-up. This is where, a couple of days later, you ask, “[Name], did you have any questions?” You would reiterate the problem they’re having and the solution you proposed, reminding them of the details of your proposal. Let them know you’re happy to answer any questions that may have come up.

And, ask for their business. I use an assumptive close here — tell them you’re ready to get started when they are.

Contact #3 is the second follow-up. This is when you could say, “Something else to consider, [Name]…” And then, give them something else to think about. For example, if I were following up on a proposal for a follow-up email sequence, I would give my prospect the stats I gave you earlier in this article. It’s valuable information to consider, AND it leads them closer to doing business with me.

Again, I would close by saying, “I’m ready to get started when you are.” Generally, I would suggest sending this message two or three days after Contact #2.

Contact #4… the third follow-up. Continue to build the relationship by providing more value. You do that by sharing more content. You could say, “I saw this and thought of you, [Name]…” The content you share could be an article, a video, even an interesting or inspiring meme.

The key here is that it isn’t your own content, but it still is relevant to your prospect’s situation and moves them closer to a yes. This third-party content gives your prospect outside validation and puts you in the position of friend or trusted advisor rather than pushy salesperson.

You still need to ask for the sale, though! I change my close to something like, “I’d love to help you [insert specific result they’re looking for]. Let me know how you’d like to proceed.”

You’re still early in the relationship, so send a message like this two or three days after Contact #3.

Contact #5… the fourth follow-up. You can be more direct again here. Something like, “Checking in to see if you’re ready to [insert their desired result] by [insert your proposed solution]…” For example, “Checking in to see if you’re ready to close more sales by having a follow-up email sequence in place…”

Remind them of the benefits of your solution and ask for their business. And again, I’d only wait two or three days between my last message and this message. But then going forward, I’d ease back and begin sending one follow up a week.

Contact #6… the fifth follow-up. At this point, I share something humorous and say, “Hey [Name], this will make you chuckle/giggle/laugh out loud…” Sharing tasteful and appropriate humor elevates your relationship a bit more. After all, who do you sit around and laugh with? You’re putting yourself in their space in a non-threatening and even welcomed manner.

Your ask with this contact needs to be soft and non-threatening. For example, “Remember, I’m here for you when you’re ready to proceed with [the project]. Talk soon.”

Contact #7… the sixth follow-up. Share another piece of content that’s educational, entertaining, or inspiring. It can be your own or someone else’s, but it should be something that keeps moving the prospect closer to doing business with you.

For example, I have a blog article on my website titled, “The 3 Biggest Lead Generation Mistakes Small Businesses Make… and How You Can Overcome Them All.” I frequently share this article with prospects who have come to me for help with lead generation.

At this point, I typically go back to my original assumptive closing statement of, “I’m ready to get started on [the project] whenever you are.”

Contact #8… the seventh follow-up. Ask what they thought of the last piece of content you shared. I like to ask, “What surprised you about that last article?” or something similar. I continue the conversation by saying, “Most people found [insert a common reaction]…”

Bring the conversation back around to your proposed solution and ask for their business.

Contact #9… the eighth follow-up. This is where I ask the power question: “[Name], are you still struggling with [problem]?” It’s time to be more direct. Not pushy or sleazy, but to the point.

Remind them of the details of your proposal, and (this is important) the results they can expect. I close here by saying, “If you’re ready to [have the results], let’s get started.” For example, “If you’re ready to generate more leads, let’s get started.”

Contacts #10-12 are a repeat of the #7-9 sequence. Share another piece of content. Ask what they thought of it. Ask a power question that directly brings up their problem. In fact, you can keep repeating these three until they either do business with you or tell you they’ve found another solution.

People buy when they’re ready to buy, not when you need them to buy or when you’re ready to sell. But, you can help your prospects become ready to buy by following up with 5-12 — or more — contacts that build a relationship with them and keep you top of mind.

If you become part of the 20% who don’t stop after the first three contacts, you’ll set yourself apart, close more sales, and achieve greater success.


Michele Peterson

I'm a Freelance Direct-Response Copywriter specializing in web content and social media. I help clients attract new prospects, get new customers, and retain existing clients with engaging web content and strategic social media. I'm a Master Networker, having attended 400+ networking events in the past 3 years. AND I'm a proud Baseball Mom, Wine Wife, and BBQ Daughter who loves Christmas, Disneyland, and rescue dogs.


  • Outstanding article. I’m going to implement these steps in my follow up with potential clients.
    Thank you.

  • I have a question:
    Having been in sales basically all of my work years, and some of that time in “C” level management I want to know how you have mechanized or managed the 12 follow up activities you recommend.

    Are you using a CRM system or some other type of reminder, automated system?

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