Sometimes a salesman strikes gold with an extremely receptive prospect. Every time the representative sends an email, a response is received within an hour. When they phone, the prospect answers and makes time to speak with them. The prospect will respond quickly no matter when or how the salesperson contacts them.
Unfortunately, this is more of an exception than the norm.
It’s significantly more typical for a prospect to stop responding after a time. When this occurs, the salesman must think of inventive methods to restart the discussion before the transaction falls apart.
In these cases, salespeople must remember that a prospect’s quiet does not reflect poorly on how they’ve handled the sales process so far. It is not you, but them. Their enthusiasm in the sales process has faded for whatever reason, and nine times out of ten, it’s due to something inside within their firm. If you observe this occurring more often than you’d like, practice your questioning and closing abilities.
If a prospect becomes unresponsive, don’t spend time beating yourself up or trying to figure out why; instead, follow up with them to re-engage them and get the sale moving again.
1. Don’t bring up the past.
Although representatives should continue to follow prospects who have gone silent, it is critical that they do not draw attention to their buyer’s silence. By beginning an email with “I sent a message on Tuesday but haven’t heard back from you,” or “I phoned but haven’t gotten a return call,” you don’t motivate your prospect to act; instead, you make them feel bad. And what happens when individuals feel guilty? Stay away from the situation.
If you want to hear back from your buyer, don’t bring up the fact that they haven’t responded in a while. Start each sales follow-up encounter as if it were the first, and they’ll be more likely to reengage.
2. Modify your closings.
I define “close” as every contact in which a salesman asks a prospect to commit to anything, no matter how large or little. Requesting that a prospect read a white paper, arrange a call, make an introduction, or offer information are all instances of closures. Consistently asking for closures throughout the sales process is critical to the effectiveness of sales follow-up.
When a prospect stays silent, a salesman may be tempted to just repeat the last close. Perhaps they wish to meet with the contact and their supervisor, and they sent an email to that effect more than a week ago.
If the prospect does not react, the salesman may simply send another email requesting the meeting, followed by a call requesting the meeting, then a LinkedIn message requesting the meeting. However, I would not advocate this method. Obviously, something about that question isn’t enticing the prospect to answer, therefore it’s time to devise a backup strategy.
Make your closings unique and varied. Instead of requesting another meeting or phone call, request broad information. For example, you may inquire, “I’m attempting to get a deeper grasp of your company. Where can I find out more information on (X project, team, or announcement)?”
The many questions explain why a salesman calls a prospect multiple times despite a lack of response. Furthermore, if a prospect was avoiding a certain closure, they may be more likely to reengage on a different one.
3. Create an opportunity with someone else.
Many sales professionals recommend sending a breakup email to an unresponsive customer to provoke a response. While it is true that these emails have higher than normal response rates, I believe they are a poor sales approach.
After all, if you haven’t contacted a prospect in six months or more, what makes you think you’ll start a meaningful dialogue now? It’s like if a couple went months without speaking and then one partner contacted to tell they wanted to split up. Isn’t it obvious that you split up months ago? The boyfriend or girlfriend has most likely moved on by now!
Instead of sending a breakup email months later, I recommend that salespeople have a dialogue with someone else at the organization as soon as the silence begins. But how can a rep accomplish this without seeming shady? I’m glad you inquired.
I know they’re probably not going to respond after the fourth or fifth effort with the contact who has gone quiet, but I give them one more opportunity. Here’s an example of an email I may send:
Hello, [prospect name], I just discovered this new white paper and was reminded of your firm as I read it; I believe many of the lessons would be extremely beneficial to you. I've included it here. Please phone me after you've finished reading it because I'd want to hear your comments and ask some follow-up questions. Jeremy
Now I know I’m not going to receive a call. But that’s exactly the purpose. After a few days, I can send this white paper to another person at the organization to see if I can spark up a dialogue with them.
And what if my initial contact finds out that I’m now pursuing a discussion with someone else? “Since I never heard back from you, I thought you moved on,” I may say. In this manner, the salesman interprets the contact’s passive-aggressiveness as a “no” rather than attempting to turn it into a “yes.”
4. Keep changing your contact attempts.
This seems simple, but I’ve discovered that most salesmen don’t do it: Call and email your prospect at various times of the day.
Reps are creatures of habit, so after leaving a voicemail for a prospect, they’ll set a reminder in their CRM to contact that person again in three days or a week. And they’ll usually choose the same time. That implies they’ll phone the buyer unsuccessfully at 2:30 PM on a Tuesday, and then try the same thing the following week at the same time.
Perhaps their prospect is on a conference call at that time, or perhaps they are less receptive in the afternoon. In any event, there’s no need to keep trying if something didn’t work the first time.
I propose varying both the weekday and the relative time. If you have no luck on Tuesday afternoon, try again on Thursday morning or early Monday evening.
5. Chant a Hail Mary.
When a prospect who seemed to be interested goes silent and I’m 0 for 10 on reaching them again, I’ll leave them this voicemail:
“Don’t hang up, [prospect name]. I’m Jeremy from [business], and I have a question unrelated to our meeting last month. It’s critical. This is my mobile phone; please contact me back at this number today.”
“What’s this about?” they’ll ask when they call back. I’ll respond, “I lied. This is related to our meeting last month. I was unable to reach you on the phone.”
They’ll respond in one of two ways: they’ll be angry or they’ll laugh.
They weren’t going to purchase from me anyhow if they were upset. I’ve reopened the discussion if they laugh.
It’s critical to remember that you should have something worthwhile to offer during this conversation; else, they won’t react to you again.
6. Make it personal.
Try a non-business approach by making a statement on something your prospect is interested in outside of work. If they are planning a trip to Alaska, write a fast email stating, “I was watching a video on polar bears in Alaska when I thought of you and your future trip! Do you intend to see them while you’re there?”
Because it has nothing to do with business, this is the simplest closure you can offer them. People are more likely to respond when asked when they want to arrange that demo for the fifth time if they are thrilled to chat about what is going on in their life.
Once you’ve gotten them chatting again, you may introduce a “Great! And, while you’re here, could I book the demo for Tuesday or Wednesday this week?”
7. Ignore the break-up email.
I strongly feel that break-up emails should never be sent. Your prospect did or said anything along the buyer’s journey that qualified them as a lead. Don’t waste it with a snide break-up email.
Reps will often utilize this sort of last-ditch attempt to persuade a prospect to go further. What really occurs is that you offer them an easy way out. You’re breaking things apart so they don’t have to.
Instead of responding, “It seems that you are uninterested in what I have to give. If that’s the case, this will be my last effort to contact you.” Say something like, “This doesn’t seem to be a suitable match for your organization right now. I don’t want to bother you too much, so I’ll follow up in a few months to see if our objectives have changed.”
And instead of closing the door behind you, you’ve left it open and full of potential. You were respectful of your prospect’s time while being forceful and action-oriented.