As a sales person there is nothing I
find more frustrating than waiting on an answer from a prospective client.
Think about it this way, you’ve put in your time throughout the sales process,
meetings have gone well, the prospective client has asked for a proposal, and
then nothing. Silence. No return calls. No replies to your emails. They’ve gone
These things happen. You don’t want them
to happen, but they do. And, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in sales or
how great your closing rate is, the dormant prospect scenario still happens.
So, what do you do about it?
Although we all want the prospective
client to say yes, to sign the agreement, to become an active client, a no is
still a close. So, make a no answer your goal. Chase the client down and ask
them to say no. At this point you are probably wondering if I’ve lost my mind.
Sometimes I wonder that myself, but more when it comes to being a father of
teenagers, and not from a sales management perspective. Indulge me for a moment
and you’ll soon see where I’m coming from.
Whether you use a CRM system to track
your prospect activity, a simple spreadsheet, or even a notebook, you have a
list of prospective clients holding proposals. If you’re like me, you want to
move through your list in a fair amount of time, opening new opportunities and
closing those you’ve been working on for some time. This is where a close
becomes a close regardless of yes or no.
Time is valuable. Time is money. Time is
precious and should not be wasted. Time, time, time. Every attempt to reach a
prospective client in hopes they will respond with a yes, only to receive
nothing in return, is a waste of your time. This is time you could be using to
contact other prospects, writing other proposals, or entertaining existing
clients in an effort to drive more business.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand
that as a sales person, we must sometimes play the chase game to nail down the
prospective client. And, sometimes they genuinely feel terrible for not
responding sooner, but regardless, you still need to efficiently manage your
time, your organizations expectations, and the client communication process.
When you get to the point of feeling frustrated and you’ve given the closing attempts due process, give this approach a try. I call it “No Close 3 In 1”.
This is a simple concept that only
requires you, as the sales person, the willingness to walk away from the sale.
My goal is to obtain a no answer from the prospective client in 3 scheduled communication
attempts in 1 week. After the third attempt, I mark the proposal closed, schedule
1 follow-up note for 1 month out, and then close the account altogether.
The first attempt is a voicemail along
the lines of “Ms. Smith I’ve been trying to reach you for days/weeks now to
finalize our agreement and have not heard back from you. Please call me as soon
as possible even if your decision is a no, thank you”. A few days later follow
up with an email similar to – Dear Ms. Smith: I’m dropping you a brief note to
follow up on my voicemail from a few days ago. I’ve been trying to reach you,
but have been unsuccessful. It seems like everything was going well in an
effort for us to work together, but now it seems I may be wrong. Although I’ll
be disappointed if your answer is no, at least I will then know to move along and
stop bothering you. Please get back to me at your earliest convenience. Thank
you, Kevin. And, if these two attempts fail, then go to the US Mail approach,
and send a formal letter. Rather than write this out in its entirety, here’s a
synopsis: thank you for your time recently; it seems we’re not a fit as we
initially thought; I am going to close this opportunity for now but could always
re-open in the future if you’d like; please don’t hesitate to call me if you
need anything; pleasant closing and another thank you; mail it.
Move on sales person, move on. You need
to put some closure to this opportunity, shift your time and attention to your
other sales responsibilities, and don’t look back. Well, one time look back,
and then close it for good. The one time you should look back is about a month
or so after you mailed the final letter. Give the contact a call. By
conversation or voicemail just ask how things are going, if they ever made a
decision with another firm, and remind them that you’re there if they need you.
Be pleasant, say thanks again, and move on.
Remember, a no answer to a proposal is
still a close. It may not be the close you want, but a close is a close, and
you can shift your time toward getting the type of close you really want – a yes