As an inside sales rep, you have several sales conversations a day. Many of those conversations end after the first or second call because your prospect is not qualified.
That's not a bad thing. You only have so many hours you can spend selling in a given year. The less time you spend with unqualified prospects, the better.
You have to spend your time on really qualified prospects -- the ones who absolutely need your product and face all the challenges your product solves. Because even when a prospect, there's no guarantee the sales process will be fast, and you'll have to invest time in the relationship to get the deal over the finish line.
That's why it's so frustrating when you invest your time working with a prospect only to have them go dark. Here are three common reasons why a prospect goes radio silent, and what to do to engage them again.
1) They got busy.
Have you ever received an email like this from a prospect?
Re: Next Steps
Thanks for your note. I'm sorry for the delay, but I have too much on my plate right now to focus on this. Can you follow up in a month?
How do you respond? Your quarter is going to end in two weeks, and your prospect just gave you the Heisman. If you were banking on this deal coming in, this means you won’t hit your number.
In order to solve this issue, you need to understand the root cause.
When your prospect says they are too busy to deal with your product right now, what they mean is they have several other projects ranked ahead of yours on their priority list that demand their attention.
In order to rectify this situation, you have to figure out how to have your issue rise to the top.
You can do this by helping the prospect quantify how much the issue you solve is costing their business. That usually does wonders to raise the profile of your project in the prospect’s organization.
However, many times there is no way to prevent this situation from occurring. Things happen. Maybe they just had a senior member of their team resign unexpectedly. Maybe they just lost their biggest client. Maybe they have family issues that they are dealing with. These are things that you can’t prevent.
So now what do you?
Give them exactly what they asked for. Give them space. Respect their request. But don’t go silent.
Over the next month, you have the ability to demonstrate that you are not a pushy salesperson who needs them to close, all while providing value.
Dig into your marketing team’s content library to find the best guides, infographics, or thought leadership articles that your marketing team has created, and share those with your prospect. Send an email like the following:
Sharing content like this is an opportunity to stay top of mind, and remind the prospect why they want to re-engage with you when they're ready to restart the process.
2) Your sales pitch turned them off.
In the era of traditional sales, we were taught to sell with passion. We were told that if we spoke persuasively enough to our prospects, they’d sense our passion and realize they had to buy.
So we rehearsed our pitches, fine-tuned our demos, and strengthened our objection handling.
However, in the era of inbound sales, where the buyer has alternative options to learn about your product, such as researching it on your website or reading reviews in customer forums, they 're apt to hit the mute button as soon as you start your pushy sales pitch.
A sign that you’re relying on your sales pitch to get you in the door is if the first five to 10 minutes of all of your sales interactions are about your features and benefits rather than the customer’s problems.
Record yourself. Who does the majority of the talking in that time frame? If it is you, then you are probably giving answers when you should be asking questions.
With the widespread information on the web about any topic, what your customers need most are consultants. They need someone who can ask them the right questions and have the right conversations to help them understand if they have a problem that they need to solve right now.
If you don’t want customers to be turned off by your sales pitch, then don’t give a sales pitch. However, if it’s too late for that, here’s how to recover.
Get back on the relationship-building track. Find a helpful industry- or job-related article, and send it to your buyer. Start the dialogue in the email, where the prospect has control. This will help them feel more comfortable with engaging with you again.
I remember you mentioning that you guys do a lot of cold calling, but with limited success. I've been doing a lot of cold calling too, with varying degrees of success.
Do you agree that the buyer in today's day and age is actually turned off by a cold phone call? Or do you think the extra touchpoint helps us stay top-of-mind?
Mistakes get made. Get back on the education and relationship-building track.
3) They don’t believe they have a problem.
Sometimes, you’ll talk with prospects that don’t completely believe that they're facing the problem your product solves. Those conversations are frustrating and not fruitful, because it seems as though the prospect isn’t receptive to your questions or what you have to say. So instead of feeling natural momentum in your sales conversation, you’re feeling unnecessary friction.
The reason why you are experiencing this issue is because your prospect is dealing with normalized pain.
Here's an example: I grew up with allergies. I never really knew what it felt like to breathe fresh air, and not feel stuffy. I was eventually diagnosed and started getting allergy shots. That made a huge difference. But it wasn’t until after I got allergy shots that I realized I even had a problem.
What does normalized pain look like in sales? It’s when a prospect is so used to their business pain they don’t even realize they're suffering from it. Any type of discussion around that problem seems fruitless.
Encountering prospects who don't recognize their normalized pain can seem like an inevitable part of day-to-day sales, but it doesn’t have to be.
One tactic that I’ve found success with is to share a thought leadership or best practice article before I talk with a prospect. Once they agree to the meeting, I share more content to educate them. Then, my conversations with prospects flow much more naturally because they're already bought into the premise of the problem that we solve.
However, sometimes you don’t find out that the prospect doesn’t get it until you jump on a call with them. What do you do then?
If you just got off of a phone call with a prospect that felt forced, send them an email with the following components:
Thank them for their time.
Compliment the strategies they have already put in place to address the problem that you are solving.
Share an article that talks about the problems that they are experiencing.
Ask if you can discuss this issue with them in two or three months, since it doesn’t seem like it’s on the top of their stack of issues for the moment.
Here is an example of what this email looks like:
I really appreciate you taking the time to chat today and for your proactiveness in wanting to increase sales usage of your content.
It talks about a few issues that prevent sales from leveraging your content with prospects. It doesn't sound like it makes sense to talk right now, but could I follow up in two months to see if you're experiencing some of the issues that we discuss in that article?
In this scenario, I shared a blog article. However, if you have either visual content or a thought leadership piece from a third party, share that instead. Visual content does a better job of helping the prospect grasp a concept, and an objective source does a better job of helping the prospect overcome their skepticism of your claims.
Prospect engagement is a really important skillset for inside sales teams. Today’s sales reps have less personal control to influence their prospects, yet quotas continue to climb by 10% each year.
As a result, it’s important to adapt. Sales reps are figuring out how to build relationships and become trusted advisors to their prospects, regardless of emerging constraints. They are strategically sharing content to add value and close their prospects.
In today’s shifting sales environment, how do you keep your prospects engaged?
Originally published Apr 27, 2016 12:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017