When a prospect says what you were hoping to hear, we call that having happy ears. Your happy ears prevent you from thoroughly qualifying, pushing back and asking the right questions. I’ve written about happy ears before – check out this Google search and see the first five articles – all on happy ears. Now that we are on the same page, let’s discuss what you would do if you didn’t have happy ears!
It’s a bit more difficult to provide examples for what salespeople will do when they don’t have happy ears, but fortunately, we have an email example we can use.
Our salesperson had a good discussion with the prospect and then a month passed. Concerned that there wasn’t any movement, our salesperson sent this email:
It’s been more than 3 weeks since we all spoke by phone and I was wondering where you are and where we are on this potential project. Can you bring me up to date?
Two days later, our salesperson received this email in response”
Thanks for the follow-up. We have worked internally to digest all of the information from the various firms and steps involved in the longer term project. Eye opening! Based on this, we have decided to start very small and do some additional research before pursuing the full project.
Thanks again for your responsiveness throughout the process. We will be in touch in the near future if we reach a point where we can leverage your services and expertise.
The salesperson sent the email thread to me, told me about this nice opportunity and asked for suggestions for follow up. I don’t have happy ears and I immediately pointed out that I didn’t think there was any kind of an opportunity here and that the prospect was just sending a thanks but no thanks email. To test out my theory, I suggested sending the following email in response. Since this company is a client, they actually do what I say!
You’re welcome [prospect].
I have one question. You wrote, “If we reach a point where we can leverage your service.”
I’m not sure which part of your comment should be emphasized.
Is it the “if we reach the point” part – as in we might not?
Or is it the “where we can leverage your services” part – as in we aren’t the best fit or number one choice?
Or is it both?
It’s perfectly OK to tell me that you won’t be choosing us…
Thanks in advance for clarifying!
Within about 15 minutes, our salesperson received this response:
Hi [salesperson], We may not reach the point. Our scope has been narrowed so that we can answer some additional questions internally. We will absolutely keep you on our short list of partners should we resume the original scope of the project.
When you have healthy skepticism, you will always hear, read and recognize the vague words that prospects use to throw you off track. Happy Ears are expensive. If you throw them away, and learn to push back, you’ll always know where you stand, and whether there is anything you can do about it.