Some people think the biggest problem with being a salesperson is the rejection of someone hanging up the phone on them or slamming the door in their face – or simply acting as if you are the BIGGEST DRAG THEY’VE HAD TO DEAL WITH ALL DAY and life would be far better if you simply didn’t exist.
While those things are *not fabulous*, it is not the worst part of being a salesperson.
It is the cold, lonely, empty, long, cement hallway of waiting for them to “get back to you.”
At least rejection is immediate. It’s over.
The cold, empty, long, cement hallway of waiting for them to “get back to you” is never-ending. It is torture. It keeps you up at night. It makes you lie to your manager –“ YES! I am sure they will sign the deal this Friday!”
You have NO IDEA what is going on with your prospect and no idea what to do about it.
Never fear – here is your guide to the Four Reasons They Are Not Getting Back To You and What To Do About It.
#1 Reason They Are Not Getting Back To You: They’ve already decided to buy from you
I find that the really good salespeople, the ones who have asked all the right questions, have met with all the right people. Have buy-in from the top…
When the deal goes dark, it’s because the customer has complete confidence that they are going to buy. In their mind, the matter is settled. They are super crazy busy with other stuff and they just don’t have time to get that contract signed. The implementation is four months away, after all!
Listen, you do this, too! Remember the last time you needed a major home repair and you asked a few contractors to come in and bid on the job? You picked the guy. You don’t need him yet. You’ll get to it when you get to it.
The Danger: The real danger is that they can’t remember your name and they can’t find the paperwork or they are embarrassed to reach out and tell you that.
What to do about it: When you have a deal that you know is in the closing stages, but it’s gone dark because they have already chosen to work with you, do what you can to stay top of mind – even have some fun with it.
An example: you can use a creative email subject line or leave a similar voice mail or text:
Subject: Would you be willing?
Body: I know we are planning on working together in October – can’t wait. Would you be willing to give me a status update on the contract? My COO would be so much happier if I could give that to him. If it’s not possible, I may be able to calm him down with a Starbucks, but then I’d have to add $5 to the contract – and neither of us really wants that, do we?
Then, start finding new prospects to fill your pipeline. A full pipeline cures all ills.
#2 Reason They Are Not Getting Back You: They’ve decided to go in a different direction and they are just plain rude
As sad as it is, sometimes people decide to work with another vendor or keep things the way they are for now, and they don’t tell you.
The danger: The danger is that you keep this deal in your pipeline, messing with your projections and messing with your head. The longer you let it hang out there, the more clogged your pipeline becomes and the greater danger to your confidence as a seller.
What to do about it: The trick to these types of dark deals is to keep improving your upfront conversations. When salespeople have developed respect-filled relationships with micro-agreements leading up to the close, they are more likely to hear from their “guy-on-the-inside” when things are taking a turn for the worse.
More often than not, when a customer goes dark on you because they are not going to buy, you haven’t gotten all of the answers you needed up front to guide the sale to a close.
This is an excellent time to insert The Irreverent Sales Girl’s Eight Great Questions (Stolen Shamelessly from Multiple Sales Gurus)
- Why are they interested?
- What are they doing about the situation now?
- What other alternatives are they considering?
- What will your offer help them do that they can’t do now or with another solution?
- What is their timeline for implementation and what is important about that timeframe?
- Do they have the budget for this now?
- Who helps them decide? (Who are all the decision-makers)?
- What is their buying process and what obstacles must be overcome to make a purchase?
Without exception, every time I’ve had a deal go dark because they have decided not to buy from me and they are not telling me, I did not have adequate answers to all of those questions.
Look at the questions you don’t have answered and reach out: “Hey, Dan. I’ve been thinking about our conversations and realized that I didn’t ask you a critical question about how we would work together. Could you take five minutes to fill me in?”
They will either respond with:
- Thanks for reaching out. So sorry, but we’ve decided to go in a different direction.
- Of course. What do you need to know?
- No response.
If it’s crickets for a good amount of time, send the breakup email: “Hello Dan, I’ve enjoyed our conversations and learning more about your company. I haven’t heard from you in a while, so I am going to assume that you no longer want to move forward. If anything changes, of course I am always here.”
Then, remove them from your pipeline immediately. That spot is now open to be filled with another deal. And, you’ve got your dignity and confidence in tact!
Now, start finding new prospects to fill your pipeline. A full pipeline cures all ills.
#3 Reason They Are Not Getting Back To You: All the decision-makers are very, VERY busy
We know that most B2B deals require input from approximately 5.4 people.
Here’s the problem with people. They have all sorts of priorities that have nothing to do with you. They go on vacations, they have business problems that trump the business problem you solve, they have family emergencies that trump everything else.
Depending on the level of authority your key contact has, they may not have the power to corral these very, very busy people as quickly as you’d like.
The danger: The danger is that the customer will push the deal out so long that it puts their time-to-implementation at risk for meeting critical deadlines. The other danger is that the company will “re-organize” or a key decision-maker will leave the company and you have to start all over. It is phenomenal how often that happens!
What to do about it: Here again is a place where having all of your Eight Great Questions answered will do you a world of good.
What did they tell you the buying process would look like? What hurdles needed to be overcome to get the deal done? Which hurdles have you not yet cleared?
I like to ask up-front questions when I am sending out an agreement. I’ll say something like, “Set my expectations here. Once you receive the agreement, what has to happen next? Do you know the person in legal who needs to review it? Are they usually speedy or should we expect delays? Who signs the agreement? Are they going on vacation anytime soon?”
Keep it light!
As you walk your contact person through the process, it helps THEM solidify in their own mind what needs to transpire to get the deal signed on time.
It takes a courageous seller to ask all the questions up front. At first, it may seem uncomfortable – or you may feel like you’re being pushy. It’s easier to just hear the “Yes. Send me an agreement.” And then to get off the phone – expecting the best.
I invite you to look at it a bit differently. Your customer clearly wants to buy from you – or they wouldn’t be this far along in the conversation, right?
You have the real-world experience of what it takes for a customer to go from a commitment to buy to a signed deal. By asking all the questions, you are guiding them to the outcome THEY want.
The only way to shepherd the very VERY busy deal through – is to politely insert yourself at regular intervals with your key contact person. Keep asking the Eight Great as gracefully as possible and remember to act like a partner.
The deal is on their timing, not yours!
Remember: Keep prospecting. A full pipeline cures all ills!
#4 Reason They are Not Getting Back To You: You have been back-burnered!
Aaaaaagh! The dreaded “We’ve put this project on the back burner for now.”
Sadly, with the amount of turnover in most companies and with the wild shift in priorities so many organizations experience, keeping your project on track can be tricky unless your solution is TOTALLY mission critical.
The danger: The danger is that you are going to become the salesperson who reaches out with the message, “Just checking in” or “I’d like to circle back with you”. Don’t fall subject to this fatal, non-creative, and completely unhelpful salesperson mistake.
What to do about it: Again, revisit your Eight Great Questions. Are they all answered? Is there a chance that there is a new hurdle to overcome?
If you suspect you’ve been back-burnered, it’s a good time to reach out to your key contact. “Hello! I am getting the sense that priorities have changed in your department since we last spoke. Can I help?”
WOW. You read their mind!
It’s not the case and they’ll probably tell you what IS going on.
Keep it light. Friendly. Be on their side.
When you’ve been back-burnered, stay in touch in a really friendly way. If you see something in the news that is a victory for your prospect – reach out to congratulate them. Or, if you find a juicy tidbit that you know they’ll like, send a quick note.
Being back-burnered does not mean that they will never buy. Hang in there with them. 80% of my back-burnered deals have closed and they were well worth the wait.
When you get back-burnered, keep prospecting. Remember, a full pipeline cures all ills!
In any deal, if your hot prospect has gone dark, my rule of thumb is to:
- Check to see if the Eight Great Questions have been answered – what is the next hurdle to overcome?
- Speculate on which of the four reasons is at play – act accordingly.
- Keep prospecting. A full pipeline cures all ills.
And always remember to….
Love ‘em all UP!
The Irreverent Sales Girl