Your Sales Prospect Needs a Job: Turn Radio Silence into Sales Commitment – by Joanne Black
Consider this sales scenario: You conduct a great meeting with a sales prospect, engage in smart conversation, and exchange ideas. Your prospect:
1. Thanks you for your insights.
2. Agrees that your solution would meet his needs.
3. Engages in a preliminary discussion about pricing.
4. Asks you to prepare a proposal.
5. Goes so far as to discuss start dates for the project.
You leave the sales meeting excited and confident that you have sealed the deal. After all, the customer gave you every buying signal you ever learned.
Sales Success Starts Before the Follow-Up
Assuming it’s pretty much a done-deal, you write the proposal, review it with your team, include detailed pricing and timelines, and send the proposal to the client with a well-crafted email.
You call; you send another email. Silence.
What went wrong? What happened to the great relationship you thought you had? Why won’t your sales prospect return your messages?
Maybe your prospect got busy, went on vacation, changed roles within the company, or ran into barriers for approval and felt too embarrassed to talk to you. Maybe it’s none of these. But whatever the reason, you’ve wasted a lot of time and energy on someone who won’t call you back.
Assume Nothing, Predict Everything
What could you have done differently? Could you have prevented this crushing sales scenario? Yes, here’s how:
- Prepare a Discussion Document which summarizes the business issues, the ROI of your solution, and a pricing range.
- Schedule a time to review this document before you leave the meeting.
Writing a Discussion Document or proposal takes a lot of time and thought. Don’t ever agree to write one unless you have a follow-up meeting on the calendar.
Everyone Gets Homework (Including Your Prospect)
Never leave a meeting with a list of things for you to do and no action items for your prospect. Everyone needs an assignment. Without one, your client isn’t invested in the solution. Engage him in his success: You may ask him to provide you with materials for review, to conduct research, or to survey his internal team. Whatever you decide is appropriate, just make sure your sales prospect has a task.
And always, always leave your meeting with another meeting scheduled. If your prospect is noncommittal, you have probably been too quick to jump to a proposed solution.
Double Your Sales
Of course, the most successful business-development plan is one based on referrals. Get started now by reading “How to Ask for a Referral.”
Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling. A captivating speaker and innovative seminar leader, Joanne is changing the business of sales. She is the author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust (Warner Business Books). www.NoMoreColdCalling.com or 415-461-8763.
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