- January 15, 2018
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
Last week I wrote about the deep freeze, why prospects suddenly go cold, and how you can prevent that from happening. That article was instantly as popular as any I have ever written. I also posted a 6-minute cold-calling rant on LinkedIn that had more than five-thousand views after just a couple of days. The video, like the article, was about mindset, not scripting and tactics. And last week I also posted an article about writing a good prospecting email. It seems that there was a theme to the week and it resonated really well with the readers.
Let’s build on that theme and discuss the same prospect that went cold two months ago, and now he calls or sends you an email.
Hopefully, you had archived the opportunity rather than hoping and praying for its revival. The biggest mistake that salespeople make at this point is they get excited. I don’t know about you but for me, when a supposedly good prospect goes cold and then returns two months later, it’s more like the return of the flu. This prospect caused you a lot of anxiety, embarrassment with your manager, and wasted time. Who wants more of that? I raise that issue because the chances of your prospect going cold again are greater than the likelihood of a sale.
For that reason, skepticism should be your number one strategy.
Why has your prospect returned and why now? A number of things happened with your prospect since your last conversation and you need to hear their story. What they share could be predictive of what will happen next and what you should do. For example:
|What They Might Say||What That Could Mean||What You Should Do|
|We have one more question||They will go cold again as soon as you answer the question||Ask them a question. Why did they call you back? Do not accept “because we had a another question for an answer. Instead, mention that they didn’t return calls and emails for two months so why now?|
|We would like a proposal||They are moving forward but at what speed and with whom?||Ask how many proposals they are requesting. Ask why they included you. Don’t accept out of respect for the time you already invested. Instead, suggest that it doesn’t sound like you are their first choice so why are they including you?|
|We want to meet||A good sign – they like you enough that it won’t be a waste of time||Schedule time to meet and ask what is on their agenda and their desired outcome of the meeting. Then ask if you can share your agenda and outcome.|
|We want you to present||They are moving forward but at a snail’s pace.||Ask how many companies they invited to present. Ask why they included you. Don’t accept out of respect for the time you already invested. Instead, suggest that it doesn’t sound like you are their first choice so why are they including you?|
|Our [top-ranking executive] wants to talk with you||A good sign – they like you enough that it won’t be a waste of time||Schedule time to meet and ask what is on their agenda and their desired outcome of the meeting. Then ask if you can share your agenda and outcome.|
The reality is that in most cases, prospects go cold when you weren’t talking with the right person. When they return from their self-imposed ice age they are still the wrong person so don’t expect anything different to happen unless the top executive decision maker is fully engaged.
You could even experience these issues if you are talking with a weak decision maker who needs to build consensus. Decision makers go cold too if they don’t get the consensus they are looking for.
If you maintain a healthy level of skepticism, ask plenty of questions and keep your discussion conversational you will get a much better sense of where you really are and whether you will get the business.
Although the prospect has returned, the opportunity can be reactivated in CRM and the odds are no longer zero, don’t become too optimistic. Your odds of closing the business are no greater than 49%.
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