Every sales professional has experienced this scenario: you’ve talked on the phone with a prospect, sent follow-up e-mails with additional information, and perhaps even reached the point of preparing a formal sales proposal. The prospect has a definite need and seemed close to being ready to talk about closing a deal and purchasing your solution. Then all of a sudden, the prospect stops responding.
Sales people often rack their brains wondering “What did I do wrong?” While sales professionals may be inclined to blame this lack of responsiveness on their own behavior, this silence from the sales prospect is often due to circumstances outside of the sales person’s control.
There are many possible reasons why a prospect might stop responding: perhaps a competitor swooped in and won the business, the prospect got overwhelmed by too many follow-up e-mails, they found a cheaper solution, or they lost their budget.
It is important to remember that while this prospect may be very important to you, you are probably one of many sales people that are contacting them. With advances in technology, sales decision makers are being overwhelmed by phone calls, e-mails, and other electronic communication.
One of the least understood and now most widely used sales follow up tools is email. If you are frustrated by the lack of response from sales e-mails you are sending to your prospect, it might be helpful to step back and take a look at the reasons that they may not be responding.
Here are 3 reasons a prospect may “go dark.”
1. They don’t have time. In this case it’s definitely not personal – they don’t respond to anyone. This could be because they are overwhelmed with new e-mails and simply cannot weed through the trash in order to ferret out the treasure. They may count on an administrative assistant to read their e-mail and alert them to important communication. They may also be habitual procrastinators who are always planning to get back to their e-mail eventually, but are never getting around to it. Some people are also so busy putting out the day-to-day fires around their workplace that e-mail is constantly pushed to the back burner.
2. They prefer face-to-face conversations. In a world that is dominated by instant electronic communication, some prospects prefer to talk the old fashioned way, face-to-face. They may find computers intimidating, frustrating, or impersonal. When making a major purchasing decision, a prospect may want to be able to shake someone’s hand or look them in the eye. While face-to-face interaction is certainly a lot more time consuming, if this is truly the preferred communication style of the purchasing decision maker, you will never hear back from them via e-mail.
3. They prefer the phone. When e-mail first became common in workplaces in the early to mid-nineties, many people resisted using it, and still resist today. Especially for higher-ranking executives, some people are still more comfortable using the phone to communicate. If they aren’t habitual e-mail users, they may only respond to the most urgent messages, or possibly not at all.
Just remember that there are many potential reasons that a prospect might not respond to your e-mail. It can be tempting to blame yourself or to write the prospect off, but if you dig a little deeper, persistence in following up on these B2B sales leads will pay off.
One of the best ways to figure out whether or not a prospect has a different preferred style of communication is to just ask them. If they would prefer that you get in touch by phone, the prospect will probably be happy to let you know.
If a prospect is taking a long time to respond or not responding at all, don’t be afraid to reach out and have a conversation with them about the best way to communicate with them. This can be an important part of building the client relationship and improving your processes for successful lead generation and appointment setting.