If your prospect declines or delays the decision to do business with you, in other words, no sale, you have obligations to that person, which requires following up.
First, the prospect deserves to be sincerely thanked for giving you an opportunity to exchange information. A hand-written note is always appreciated and sets you apart from a vast majority of salespeople that take shortcuts.
Next, you need to objectively reflect upon the circumstances that caused the prospect to say, “No, thank you.” Depending upon the situation, you may have a high likelihood of landing the account sometime down the road.
Here’s some questions you should ask yourself when debriefing each “no sale” call:
- Did they decline because I proposed a solution before fully exploring their needs?
- Did I do my best possible job of asking questions; encouraging them to share their ideas, or did I do too much “pitching” of my ideas and solutions?
- Did I adjust to their pace (faster vs. slower) and to their priority (task vs. relationship)?
- Am I confident that I helped them make the best possible decision in their best interest?
- By behaving professionally, have I left the door open for doing business if their situation changes in the future?
After objective analysis, you’re now prepared to follow up with this prospect. In many cases, you can turn a “no” into a “yes” if you execute customized, long-term follow up campaigns.
It’s common for salespeople to be in the right place (a qualified prospect), but at the wrong time. Many prospects, if empowered to educate themselves over time, can change their minds.
There are two different types of follow ups you can execute; each serving a specific function.
The first is a standard follow up. Salespeople send literature, case studies, testimonials and other “value proposition” information designed to further educate the prospect about the value their product/service delivers. Sometimes this does work, but no matter how cleverly disguised, it might convey a message similar to: “You didn’t say ‘yes’ during our discussion, so here’s evidence that may help you change your mind.” Although educating prospects is never a bad idea, “attention erosion” is making it harder to get your messages received, read and digested. Business people today are stretched thin and have little time to spare reading your literature and newsletters.
However, the second type of follow up makes the first type much more effective…by following up with everyone in a customized, effective manner that ensures marketing messages are received with open arms and open minds!
Goal-specific Communication is the act of sending people (prospects, customers, clients, colleagues, referral partners, etc…) information that helps each of them achieve specific goals. If you take the time to ask interesting questions and pay careful attention to answers, you can leverage technology to automate follow ups that send articles, tips and ideas to each of your contacts that match their goals, challenges, interests and preferences.
If you send people helpful information—especially if it is unrelated to what you sell—you will position yourself as a helpful, thoughtful professional, and not as a pesky, pushy salesperson.
More importantly, this approach dramatically increases the odds that when the salesperson sends “value proposition” information (literature, case studies, etc…) that the prospect will receive each message with an open mind. By matching messages to the goals, preferences and interests of every prospect, you eliminate “attention erosion”.
As many thought leaders often remind us: If you want to get everything you want, first help others get what they want!