What Do I Do When a Prospect Goes Silent?
by Mark Hunter
You have the perfect prospect. You know how you can help them. You have that initial phone call, and everything feels good. They share great information and provided even more information and insights in response to your questions. You feel like life is good. The call ends and you’ve both agreed on a clear next step: another call next week. You feel good about the time blocked for the call next week. Then, two days before the next scheduled call, they send you an email letting you know that they’re cancelling. Their note is short and sweet and goes something like: “My priorities have changed. I’ll contact you if I see a need to speak again.” Your heart sinks. They've blown you off. It's even worse if you don’t hear anything and they don't show for the call or respond to your message when you tell them you're waiting. So, what do you do? Get all the answers here!
How do you respond to these situations? How should you respond to these situations? Let’s run through a checklist of what you need to do. The last thing you want to do is have a conversation with yourself or worse yet, crickets and an empty pipeline.
Let’s go back and dissect the situation. Your initial excitement of getting what you think is a qualified lead is now long gone. The problem began when you failed to do the two-step follow-up even in your excitement. Don’t go thinking that the thank you email you sent immediately following the call was enough. That's what every salesperson does. If you want to be a top performer, you must go further. You need to send them a second communication a couple days later where you provide another keen insight and a question along with how you’ll share this and more information during the next meeting with them. This second step is key as it helps to keep their interest level high before the next call.
Let’s shift gears now and talk about how you engage the prospect that will not respond. First, ask yourself: are you giving the prospect a reason to respond to you? If all you’re doing is throwing them information, who is going to blame them for not responding. You want to engage them with something that sparks their interest. The best way to do this is by calling (and yes, leave a voicemail if they don’t answer) or emailing them. State a comment they shared with you and ask them a question about what they said. People love to have their comments and feelings validated. By asking them more about what they shared with you, they will feel valued. I’m amazed at how effective this strategy is in getting people engaged.
The frequency of your messages is always something salespeople struggle with. My answer is simple- the speed and frequency of how often you follow up will be driven by the following three things:
First is the person you’re dealing with. The lower the person is in an organization, the more frequent you can follow up. The higher up the individual, the longer the timeframe should be between attempts. Second, the frequency with what you sell is being purchased. If what you sell is seen as a commodity and the customer is buying from your competitor, you need to reach out frequently. If what you sell is a capital expenditure, your follow-up might be closer to once every 7 – 10 days. Third, is the urgency the customer expressed in proceeding calls. It’s only natural if what they said sounded critical, then you owe it to them to reach out more often.
What does all this mean to you? It means that if you're selling a commodity, the customer has expressed a real need and you’re dealing with a low-level person, I would call them daily. If I’m dealing with a senior level manager making a capital expenditure, I would call them every two weeks.
These are only guidelines. The key is to develop a plan and stick to it. Too many salespeople fail to follow through themselves. No wonder customers go silent; often, its due to the salesperson. There's no reason to sit back and allow a customer to go “radio silent” on you. It’s not their job to break the silence, it's your job to give them a strong enough reason to break the silence.
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Copyright 2019, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results