Sales Coach: When Prospects Go Cold

tom_izzoWhen you’re shaping up a deal, time is your enemy.

The longer the process lingers, the more you risk the deal falling apart.  People get busy, they go on vacation, priorities change, competitors creep in, etc.

And as hard as you might try to build momentum and get the signature, conversations are going to go cold.

Here are a few plays you can run when the prospect goes cold:

The Anticipation Play

You should expect that the process is going to drift and plan for it.  You do this by always having a clear next step for the process — a trial review, a contract review, a demo for a colleague, etc.

The “next step” will vary for everyone, but you should always know where the prospect is in your process and you should always know your next move.  And you should never hang up the phone without getting the prospect to commit to the next step.

The Permission to Follow Up

Many times, the next step will be “let us talk about it and get back to you” — which is kind of a pain because you lose your control over the process.  To keep these situations from slowing down the deal, you need to:

  • Clarify the timeline with the prospect.
  • Ask when they expect to be back in touch.
  • Ask to schedule a call / meeting on that date.
  • If they object to confirming a next call / meeting, ask if you check in if you don’t hear from them by that date.

The prospect will say “sure thing — check in if you don’t hear from us by then” and you have your permission to “follow-up”.  I normally strongly advise against follow-ups and check-ins, but you’re justified in this case.

The Innocent Email

Even though you know the convo has petered out, you can play a little dumb by dripping the prospect with an email unrelated to the deal.  You can send a link to your latest white paper, you can congratulate them that their team won the big game, or you can congratulate them on recent personal or company news.

Your friendly email (that is unrelated to the deal) is just a simple reminder that you’re hanging around and waiting for them to move.

The Direct Ask

This play almost always works.  You’ve done all of the hard work — you’ve built trust with the prospect, you’ve moved the prospect through the process, and you’ve got them close to the finish line.  And they still go quiet, even after you’ve “followed up” (with their permission) once or twice and dripped them an innocent email or two.

Your next move is pretty simple:

  1. Find the last deal-related email they sent to you.
  2. Reply to that email with the subject line Did you go another direction?

It is a simple, direct ask.  And if you’ve done your job building trust with the prospect, they will reply more times than not.  And you’ll get the truth, for better or worse.

We run these plays every day at RevBoss.  Let us know how they work for you.