Long ago I heard a story that has stuck in my mind about a man who walked next door to ask a favor of his neighbor. When the neighbor opened the door the man asked, “Can I borrow your ax?” His neighbor promptly said, “No you can’t, I have to make some homemade soup.”
The fellow thought about that answer for a couple seconds, and then responded, “What does me borrowing your ax have to do with you making homemade soup?”
The neighbor responded, “Oh, it doesn’t have anything to do with it, but if I don’t want to loan you my ax, one excuse is as good as another.”
That’s sort of a humorous way of saying it’s up to you to find a way to break through and get the deal done, and you shouldn’t count on a lot of help from your buyer!
Following a solid proposal, have you ever had what you thought was a really good prospect suddenly become very hard to re-contact? This is always tough emotionally, especially if a lot of interest was displayed previously, prior to the buyer playing hide-n-seek.
When this occurs step back and analyze what may have caused them to disappear into a black hole. Here are 5 ideas to help you understand why your prospect might be inaccessible:
Busyness – This is not uncommon, remembering that their timetable is not yours, and they undoubtedly have other fish to fry. They intend to get back with you… but maybe not yet.
Balancing – This can happen overnight. Maybe something changed financially at that company, or one of the players lost some of the excitement they had when you were with them. When things like this occur, priorities can change, internal balancing takes place, and it’s hard for you to regain traction.
Backpedaling – Sometimes the buyer doesn’t see the situation quite as time-sensitive as before. During the proposal, they may have agreed buying was important, but to them waiting another couple of months is not a big deal.
Bidding – Often your prospects are entertaining other proposals before making their final decision. They may begin to hear prices that are cheaper and service parameters that are different from yours, leading to confusion and stalling.
Blowing you off – When prospects think they have all the information they need, they sometimes feel self-sufficient and that there is no reason to speak further with you.
When you don’t know what’s behind the prospect’s silence, figuring out how to respond can be difficult, especially considering that you don’t want to be viewed as a stalker. That’s one reason why it’s so important to do your best to schedule a next step, before leaving the buyer’s presence the first time. Remember that closing is defined as getting agreement on a logical next step after each appointment. That’s the only way to know for sure you won’t get trapped in a selling box canyon.
To keep that from happening, here is an idea of the type of response to offer at the conclusion of an appointment. Regardless of the words you use, your objective must be to schedule yourself back in front of your buyer:
“On a scale of 1-10 what is your interest level in the material we just discussed? (Assuming a high number) So when is the best day for me to return and discuss the next step, Wednesday or Friday?”
Of course, this won’t work with every buyer, so you should develop a backup plan for securing additional appointments, in order to keep your job from becoming even more difficult than it is already. As a reminder, don’t forget to secure an email address for every new prospect, so you can communicate with them electronically when attempting one or more of the following strategies:
Pursue – Regardless if they realize it or not, prospects expect you to continue to try to re-connect with them; so do it. Don’t panic if it takes 3-5 additional attempts before you reach them again. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, meaning the only losers are the quitters. If you don’t press on and try to break through, you’ve already lost.
Personalize – Don’t utter drivel like, “Hi Mr. Lefkowitz, I’m just getting back to you as I promised. Have you made a decision yet?”
Whether you contact the buyer physically or by electronic means with a link to a relevant website case study, you might say, “Based on our conversation last week, I know how important it is for you to resolve those issues we discussed as soon as possible. I’m emailing you an interesting article that should be very helpful. As soon as you read it, give me a call. I’d like to hear your thoughts.” Continue touching the buyer until you find a contact method that works with that particular prospect.
Play – If several of your outreach efforts are un-returned, include a little humor in your messages such as, “Mr. Lefkowitz, I know you’ve been extremely busy. You did tell me to get back with you so I’m going to keep calling you until you tell me to get lost.” You’ll never know what might work until you try some options that might just break through.
Position – Return to the needs you uncovered initially and emphasize the difference you and your firm can make for the buyer. Mix up phone calls with emails, snail mailings, internet article links, even a drop-by. To remain professional, just ensure that each connection educates, informs or adds insight.
Prune – If repeated attempts still don’t produce success, cut them loose. Tell them or leave a message for them stating, “If you’ve decided you don’t want to do business with me, its okay; just tell me. I apparently misjudged your interest level, since all of my calls have gone unreturned.” Sometimes this strategy will trigger a response and an explanation from the buyer who may be feeling guilty about not reconnecting if something legitimate has occurred. If you don’t hear from them after this, cut the rope to the anchor and move on, as you sing the Kenny Rogers chorus, “You’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them…”
——————Didn’t See That Coming—————
The phone rang last week and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the voice of a fellow who attended one of my week-long sales classes nearly 20 years ago, when he was a rookie commercial account manager. As soon as I heard his voice, excitedly I said, “Is this Sherman?” I picked him as a winner way back then and during our 30 minute catch-up conversation I learned that he has been successful in every role he’s been asked to fill, and currently is a National Account Manager, the pinnacle in commercial sales with his company. He shared that there were two mentors who made major contributions to his success, and my name was one of them. That flat made my day! Might I help you accomplish something similar?
©2017 Robinson Training Solutions, LLC