The reality is, as much as salespeople dislike hearing no, prospects and customers hate to give it as well. That is why sometimes it feels like you can’t get a yes… you can’t get a no… you can’t get anything.
What to do?
First, let’s deal with one potential underlying issue.
If this is happening a lot, you have to ask if you are dealing with genuinely qualified leads and prospects. Make sure that you are.
If you feel like that is not the issue then you need to adopt a campaign of assertive follow-up followed by a parting of ways at the point that you’ve done all you can and you’re getting no response.
What is Assertive Follow-up?
You’ll need to find the “sweet spot” for your business and your personal comfort level, but most research shows between 6-12 contacts is the minimum to get a decision. Especially after the initial sales conversation and the agreed-upon next step, it is imperative that you do your part and check back in to move things forward.
- Try every method and multiple forms of communication you can (text, email, voicemail, social media, etc.) Often, prospects are busy with life issues, urgent interruptions, putting out fires, and you are just one more. So, stay at it.
- You also want to mix up your messaging and avoid saying the same thing over and over.
- Focus on answering the question in your prospect’s mind, “What’s in this for me? Why do I need to do this now?”
- Come from a place of helping people make a decision which means you want the best choice for them, whatever it is. If you want to, let them know that a “no” is just fine!
For others reading this, there may not have been a definitive “next step” and so you might feel like you are chasing someone who never had much interest in the first place. If that’s the case, your follow-up should wrap up a little faster so you can move on.
The Last Contact
After all of your attempts and there’s no response, make one final contact and be very clear: you are going to assume since you have tried repeatedly to (help them take the next step) you are going to stop contacting them and will be “closing their file.” Some people use the phrase, “taking them off your list.” Or, you can say perhaps they “lost interest in solving xyz problem.” or that is no longer “a priority right now.”
Use whatever language feels good to you – the point is, they will no longer be contacted. The pressure is off.
Oh, and you could add… “but if I’ve made the wrong assumption, please reach out to me today.”
And leave it at that. Maintain a positive upbeat demeanor. Never come across as frustrated or annoyed.
What About Persistence?
We are all for that! But after you’ve made all those attempts for too long, you will start to feel desperate. You don’t need that. And, there is a point of diminishing returns. You are better off finding and working with people who have an interest now.
Now, do you really close the file? Delete their contact record?
It depends on your business. Unless someone is outright rude, we never let them go entirely. Check back in after a few months have passed. If there was genuine interest you can often rekindle that, especially if it was just bad timing. Planning for a quick follow-up in the future is smart.
There are two more things to consider.
One, the more you are able to connect and build a relationship early on with the prospect, the less this will happen. You might get a “not now” or a “no” but at least you’ll get an answer.
And two, even with the relationship aspect as a part of things, the more you systematize this process, the easier and less emotional it will be. Try not to take people ignoring you as a personal insult. Most of it is not personal and has nothing to do with you.
I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt and remember this quote from H. Jackson Brown… “Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river.”
Comments? Please let me know your thoughts. And if you liked this post, please share! – AW
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