7 Ways to Find Your Missing-in-Action Prospect
Your Secret Weapon? Persistent Follow-up
You land a solid meeting with an ideal prospect for your product. It goes well. You’re sure he’s ready to close. Then, nothing happens.
No response to your emails. Your phone calls go unanswered.
What’s wrong? Did you completely misread this prospect?
We’ve all gone through this situation. Here’s the deal. Time-starved prospects are too busy to make a decision. They recognize the problem. They say they want to fix it. But they still cling to status quo.
Even though your solution might be the perfect fit, multiple decision makers in B2B sales must weigh in. For everyone involved, the decision-making process soaks up limited time and resources.
So how do you grab the attention of that unresponsive prospect?
Research tells us only one in 50 deals closes in a first meeting, yet many salespeople give up trying to land that first meeting after only one or two knock-backs.
When Persistence Pays Off
Different studies carried out at different times, in different places, by different market research companies all reveal that 80 percent of non-routine sales occur only after at least five follow-ups.
Think about that. It takes at least five continuous follow-up efforts after the initial sales contact before a prospect says yes. FIVE!
Some fascinating statistics on this phenomenon:
- 44 percent of salespeople give up after one “no”
- 22 percent give up after two “nos”
- 14 percent give up after three “nos”
- 12 percent give up after four “nos”
92 percent of salespeople give up after four “nos.” Only eight percent ask for the order a fifth time.
When you consider that 80 percent of prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes,” that means eight percent of salespeople win 80 percent of the sales.
Perseverance gives you a major edge over competitors.
Create Your Follow-up Strategy
In my many years of coaching salespeople, I learned the majority practice poor follow-up skills. On the flip side, I found top performers to be the best at follow-up, and all followed a consistent strategy.
Here are the seven ways to get the attention of your MIA prospect:
1. Use a Solid Action Commitment
Salespeople make a major mistake by leaving the initial meeting or conversation without a solid action commitment. Never end a sales call or interaction with a prospect without securing a specific promise, which I call an “action commitment.”
We’re not talking about action you will take, we’re talking about steps the prospect will take. By committing to action, and only by committing to action, your prospect demonstrates his interest in moving forward in his buying process. For example, when you schedule a meeting for next Tuesday with other decision makers, you’ve created a positive action commitment on their part. It’s specific.
2. One Method Does Not Fit All
Using email as a follow-up is another major mistake. Salespeople send out an email following the initial contact and look for a response. When the prospect does not respond, they send another email and another.
Sales reps rely too much on email, and that has become a problem. Everyone faces email overload with an average of 143 a day. Often, SPAM filters block emails. Could be yours.
To succeed at follow-up, change it up. Send and an email, if no response, pick up the phone. Leave a detailed voice message with a second email referring to the email you recently sent.
Remember, what works well as a follow-up tool for one may not work for another. Joe may prefer text, as he never looks at email. Mary prefers you to follow-up with her assistant to book a conference call.
In your initial meeting, simply ask, “What’s the best way for me to follow-up? Do you prefer email communications, text, phone?”
3. It’s Not Personal
In your initial interaction find common areas of interest. For example, I love golf, and when I find someone who loves the game as I do, I invite my contact to the golf course. Or if we both grew up in YPO (Young President’s Organization) we already share a common bond and easily share our experiences and mutual friends.
Of course, this makes common sense; however, we forget to take time out for the niceties of business relationships, which encourages others to know the real you. Invite your prospects to company dinner, sporting or charity events. People do business with people they like and trust.
4. Dear John Note
This one I would like to take credit for, but a salesperson actually did this to me, and it was successful. He sent me several emails and left me a couple of voice mails. I was super busy, traveling, attending to client meetings, and didn’t respond back.
So, he sent me an email titled “Should I back off.” He said, “Hey Bill, I have contacted you a few times and there doesn’t seem to be interest on your part in fixing your issue, do you need for me to back off for a while?” I was so embarrassed that I sent a quick response and apologized and asked him to call me in two weeks. I was honestly interested but too busy at the time.
5. Write a Personal Note
Prepare a follow-up letter or a handwritten note. Not many salespeople do this courtesy. Make it personal. You might thank your prospect for the meeting and restate your action commitment. I use cards printed with “From the Desk of Bill MacDonald” for personal notes. They get opened. Of course, include your contact information.
People love their devices. If you’re out in public, say Starbucks or a restaurant, look up. What are people doing? They’re on their devices. Apparently, people look at their smartphones 82 times a day. What an ideal way to follow-up with prospects.
Text photos, images, links, and videos. Recently, I texted a link to one of my prospects because I could not reach him, and said: “Take a look at this link. It’s the concept we were discussing.” Within minutes, he returned a short text and said, “Thanks, let’s talk next week give me a call.”
7. Going to Be in the Area
Meeting face-to-face is always your best choice. Sometimes it is not possible. If I am trying to get in front of a prospect, I routinely use these seven solutions, the last being to send a short note: “I’m going to be in Newport Beach next Tuesday visiting with a client right down the street from you. Do you have 30 minutes to meet around 11 a.m.?” It works. I land the appointment.
Understand these mini-solutions will not work every time. A prospect may still tell you to back off.
But Isn’t it worth the momentary discomfort to land in the eight percent of salespeople who win 80 percent of the business?
Follow-ups demonstrate your determination to build relationships with your prospects. And significant sales result from well-built relationships.
Oh sure, you will still find a lot of disinterested parties. However, viable potential buyers will appreciate your extra effort. In the long run, persistent sales follow-ups beat the cost and time of pursuing new sales opportunities day in and day out.
Persistent prospect follow-up is an overlooked secret weapon and your competitive advantage because so few salespeople do it, and even fewer do it well.
See you on the upside,Bill
For more information, go to www.pleinairestrategies.com
Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 858.759.8637 or 213.598.4700