How often do prospects go dark on you? It certainly happens to the best of us. I’ll bet everyone who reads this post can think of at least a few prospects or clients that have gone dark and you have no idea why. Maybe you’ve done a lot; provided info, completed a detailed physical inspection, made a presentation and proposal and heard that a decision would be forthcoming. Then your prospect vanished.
I’m guessing you’ve texted, called, emailed, and voice mailed, but all you’ve heard is crickets. I once read about a fellow who relieved his frustration by sending a “last attempt” e-mail that was rather snarky, but although it made him feel better it never got a positive response. I heard about a female seller who decided to send what she called a “professional courtesy” e-mail. She actually typed “Professional Courtesy” in the subject line and went on to ask the prospect to at least have the courtesy to send her a response stating whether they were ‘in’ or ‘out’ relative to her recommendations. She rattled the chains on her ghosts and received back nearly a 100% response, but overwhelmingly they were negative.
She was so proud of herself for finding a way to bring her prospects back from the dead that she began to tell other salespeople at her company about her strategy. Sadly some of her peers began sending emails like this to prospects who had had only been touched once or twice. This caused an avalanche of nastygrams to the sales manager wanting to know who these reps thought they were. So that turned out not to be the panacea they hoped for.
Caution: although your frustration is driving you up the wall, stay away from sharp objects and don’t stop in the middle of the river bridge. Keep reading for a Plan B that will work more times than not to trigger the ghosts to re-appear in the flesh. I want to credit a fellow sales trainer, John Barrows with this approach.
When a prospect or client ghosts you after agreeing to a meeting or rendering a decision by a specific date, the following day send this prospect or buyer the traditional “Sorry we missed each other yesterday, let me know when you want to reschedule.”
If you don’t get a response, forward that e-mail including a reply all a couple days later, but be more direct by saying something like, “When are you free to reschedule our call/meeting? I am available when or when.”
If they don’t respond to that one, again reply all to the same string a few days later and say something like, “Are you still interested in continuing our discussions? Let me know either way so I don’t continue with unnecessary follow-up.”
Finally, on attempt numbers 4 or 5 over the course of a couple weeks reply all to the same string (you need to make sure they see you’ve tried to reach out multiple times), erase the original subject line, and write “Did I lose you?” in the subject line but don’t write anything in the body of the email. The next thing they will see when they open the email should be your signature line and then the 4 to 5 email attempts you have made previously.
“Did I lose you?” It’s so simple it sounds stupid, but it’s amazing how effective it is. Apparently it works because it’s simple and it’s real. So stop overthinking this dilemma and quit trying to be cute. People buy from those they like and trust. The next time you’re ghosted employ this strategy, watch the needle move on your likeability and trust meters…and see how long it takes the ghosts to reappear.
“Doug, thank you for the extra effort and for always adding value. You’ve come up with great material for the current training topic you’re covering with our comfort consultants. Very relevant and timely.” Tony Cooper, Owner, Cooper’s Plumbing & Air
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