How Many Sales Followup Calls Do You Need To Close That Deal?

Ask any sales professionals their biggest challenge and they will tell you how difficult is it to keep following up with leads without any clue on whether the lead has turned cold or still interested (but too busy to respond to continuous calls / emails).
When should you stop following up? Importantly, when is the lead hot enough to take it to the next level ?
Apparently, the answer is straightforward and simple. Take a look*:
Your probability of a connect / engagement decreases with increasing number of calls.
What does this really mean?
The first call is the most precious one. Connect rates drop by 33% after the first attempt ! Fourth is probably a lost cause.

Preparedness is surely underestimated.
Most of the sales professionals use the first call for need identification, while the customer expects sales reps to have done their homework (and talk business in the first call itself).
What has been your experience?
* : The above data (source) was collected between June and August of 2013,  reflecting over 21,000 calls

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