So just this past week I landed a major deal. A deal I have been working on for almost eight months. A deal that I was so sure was going to close more than six months ago, but fell victim to what we all experience as sales professionals – the sure deal that suddenly goes dark.
Now listen, you have all been there right? You do everything right. You prospect correctly. You make the right connections. You get to the decision maker. You ask the right questions. You listen effectively. You uncover the right pain point. You offer the perfect solution. And you sit there and smile as your prospect nods in agreement you are the one they want to do business with.
You just have one thing left – one more step – physically closing the deal. The one more meeting you need to finalize the details and get the contract signed. Piece of cake, right?
Wrong – out of nowhere the deal goes cold. Your prospect goes dark. They don’t return emails, the don’t return calls, and no matter what you do you can’t seem to get them to respond. You don’t understand why.
Now at this point you have two choices – you can give up, and assume that your prospect either is not interested or went with one of your competitors. Or you can choose to follow-up, stay in the game until you get this deal across the finish line.
Which do you think I chose? That’s right – I stayed in the game. Why? Because the sale happens in the follow-up, it always happens in the follow-up. When a deal goes dark, especially a strong deal, it is rare that your prospect no longer wants to do business with you. But you will never know, if you don’t stay in the game.
But how you follow-up is as important as ensuring that you follow-up. The strategy, the process, and the thought you put into follow-up makes all of the difference.
Four Strategies You Need To Get Your Prospect To Call You Back
- Release the Pressure – number one, release the pressure. When your prospect does not return your calls or respond to your emails, they have just signaled to you that something, other than you, has become more important in their schedule. Keep pushing them to close the deal at this point and you will appear more focused on your own goals rather than your prospects. They’ll feel pressured and that pressure will make them pull away.
My prospect shared with me how much he appreciated that he never felt pressured by my follow-up. All of my competitors were emailing asking if he was okay, asking why he was not responding, and asking things like “was this deal still alive?” All while I was emailing saying things like “know you are busy, don’t worry about calling me back, I will just check-in now and then so that when you are ready to move forward it will be easy for you to do so.”
In other words, I released the pressure. The pressure he felt to respond to emails, return calls or explain why he wasn’t ready to move forward just now.
- Don’t Take It Personally– number two, don’t take it personally. Sales is not about you – it is really important to understand that. Your prospects have busy lives, and important things happening in both their personal and professional lives. So, get your ego out of it, and don’t take it personally when prospects don’t move as quickly as you need them to.
My prospect eventually shared with me that he had a lot of things going on with his children, and when things finally came to a head, he needed to step back from work to focus on what is most important to him – his family.
Now think about that – it does not matter how much money you can make or save your prospect, or how much you want the deal to close -sometimes, most of the time, there are more important things happening in your prospects lives than getting a deal to close.
What my prospect ultimately shared with me made it so easy to understand why he was not focused on work and why this deal moved to the back burner. It made me grateful I did not pressure him.
- Position Your Prospect For Success– number three – position your prospect for success. Because your prospects are busy, and because there are bigger priorities on their calendars, you need to strategize your follow-up plan and design it so it adds value to the prospect relationship. Giving them a reason to want to respond to you and choose you over your competition.
In other words, your follow-up strategy needs to be seventy-percent value add and thirty percent asking for the business. This percentage ensures that the majority of the reach outs you make supply information and ideas that actually enhance your prospects business and continue to position you as someone they should be doing business with.
My prospect shared with me how much he enjoyed the content – videos, blogs, articles, new product ideas – I sent him over the course of those eight months. I was so surprised by how many he had read, remembered, yet never responded to.
- Stay In The Game– and last but not least – stay in the game. You don’t control the buying cycle – your prospect does. They’ll decide – not you -when, where, how and with whom they will do business with.
Out of the blue, on a Thursday afternoon, after eight months of follow-up, the email finally came. “Meridith, we are ready to move forward, can you send across the contract?”
When we finally met, finally had that final meeting to get the contract signed, my prospect shared that he chose me over the competition because at the end of the day, all things being equal, I was easy. My way of staying in touch took the pressure off of him, made him feel like I was more focused on his goals than my own, and that doing busy with me would ensure that he was choosing someone who was open to working at his pace and committed to respecting his needs. In other words, he said “I trust you.”
The sale happens in the follow—up, it always happens in the follow-up! To succeed in sales today you need a strategic follow-up system. To learn more about how to put together a powerful follow-up strategy check-out my new course From Contact To Close.