Sales in any industry can be challenging, especially now. However, there are ways you can make the process easier on yourself and your prospect.
Simple Proposal and Quick Follow-Up
The absolute best way to keep a prospect from ever going dark is to send them a one-page proposal and follow up immediately! Keeping it simple allows the prospect to give your proposal the attention it requires without putting a lot of stress on them by requiring them to read a long document and/or lots of attachments. And remember, in this economy, many prospects will need to secure consensus from additional decision-makers, so the more concise a proposal you provide for them to circulate, the more likely they’ll attract and retain the attention of all the other players who need to give it their blessing.
Make it easy for them to do business with you. Provide pricing, benefits and work details all in one, small, easy-to-digest PDF so they can open it on any device. Keep in mind that the “work details” probably belong in a “Technical Appendix” so that the one-page narrative can remain squarely focused on the “why” rather than the “how,” “when,” or “how much.”
Once you have crafted your one-page proposal and sent it, immediately call. If you have a texting relationship with your prospect, you might send them a quick text confirming that you sent the proposal and that you will follow-up within two days. You might mention that the proposal you just sent is only a single page, making it easy to review, and that you will follow up soon. Now they know exactly what to expect.
Be sure to call them back in two days, so they are not left hanging. Many prospects will not call you if they figure you’re already planning to call them in a day or two. And by the way, if you don’t call them back within two days as promised, you’ve just failed your first test of “follow-through,” which may plant a seed of doubt regarding whether they can rely on you after the sale is made.
“Are You OK?”
So, you have a great relationship with a prospect, have had multiple interactions with them via phone, email and maybe even text, and have finally sent over your one-page proposal... but now you cannot reach them. You start to wonder if they are avoiding you or if something else is going on.
Keep in mind that the purpose of your follow-up is not to hassle them with calls or emails asking if they “made their decision yet.” That can be annoying. Instead, open the conversation with something more natural about another client that reminded you of them, or something similar. Starting off with something neutral disarms the prospect, especially if they have been avoiding you because they have not yet had time to review your proposal.
If you do get them on the phone and they admit they have not yet read it, give them time to do so and promise another follow-up. Don’t just stay on the phone while they read it. This can make the prospect feel pressured.
After you have exhausted all of these tactics and you still have a prospect you cannot reach or have not heard from, you might just send them an email with “Are you OK?” in the subject line. Express your genuine concern for their wellbeing, since you have not heard from them in a while. Keep in mind that this is the nuclear option, to be used only after you’ve have a regularly paced back-and-forth dialogue and then all of a sudden they go inexplicably dark.
In most cases, the prospect will feel guilty that they had made you worry and you will hear back from them quickly. Communication will recommence and allow them to move forward with your proposal.
The best rule of thumb is to do everything you can to keep the conversation going so a prospect never goes dark. However, if they do, you can always rely on the “Are you OK?” approach to resurrect a relationship that may have temporarily faltered.