July 21, 2020

You Are Building Relationships with Prospects Who Have Yet to Respond

“No one answers their phone anymore.”

“I leave a voicemail but don’t get called back.”

“I’ve messaged the contact on LinkedIn and sent an email but am not getting replies.”

There’s a section of Chapter 11 in my latest book, Sales Truth, titled Earn the Callback with Perseverance,” and it contains some of my least popular advice. I always smile when I teach this point in a workshop because no one likes hearing it, but it really is the #SalesTruth:  We earn the return call, and the meeting, by persevering.

Sure, it’s more fun helping salespeople sharpen their “sales story,” craft more compelling messaging, and give them techniques and confidence for bouncing off that first “No” when requesting a meeting. But there’s a reality that effective, seasoned prospectors (true sales hunters) understand:  Almost no one returns the first couple of messages from a salesperson.

Unless by chance/fortune/luck you happen to leave a voicemail, or send the perfectly crafted email, on the exact day that the thing that you sell broke for your prospect, or your contact’s boss came in and said, “We have a new initiative to upgrade XYZ” (and you just left a message about how your solution helps clients upgrade XYZ), the odds of a prospect returning your first call or email are infinitesimally low.

Stay with me. My goal is not to discourage you from prospecting. Quite the opposite, actually. Because, while the bad news is that it is rarer than a rainbow to get that callback after leaving one voicemail, or a positive reply after one email, the very good news is that in more cases than you’d believe, you are actually gaining traction and building a relationship with someone who has yet to respond!

How do I know this? How can I make such a bold and bizarre statement with that much confidence? Because I’ve experienced this myself countless times and so have the thousands upon thousands of sellers who have mastered prospecting for new business. More times than I can list, after leaving a series of good messages, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving a reply, which very often comes in the form of a returned phone call and starts out very much like this:  “Hi Mike, it’s Susan with PQR Company. I am so sorry it’s taken me this long to respond. It’s been so crazy here and I really appreciate your persistence in trying to get ahold of me.”

But, and this is a BIG BUT, you only receive that kind of response when you earn it. And earning it means you…

  • Come across as human, authentic, caring, other’s-focused
  • Are not sending automated crap generic messages (because no one feels compelled to respond to messages that feel canned or automated)
  • Are dripping what I refer to as little “value nuggets” in each message that paint a picture for the prospect about how you help (address issues and drive outcomes) clients
  • Leave enough messages in a finite period of time that the prospect senses an obligation to respond because you’ve made a supreme effort
  • Personalize and contextualize what you’re saying (in voicemail) or writing (in emails or LinkedIn messages)
  •  Don’t keep leaving the same boring self-focused voicemail or re-forwarding the same pathetic pitchy email

Most salespeople are way too concerned with being perceived as a pest and therefore stop pursuing prospective clients way too soon. It’s critical to keep YOUR WHY in mind when prospecting. It’s a whole lot easier to keep calling someone when our motivation is pure and we believe with deep conviction that we not only bring great value to our clients, but that they are in fact better off working with us (or using our solution) because we will create the most value (produce the best outcome)!

The #SalesTruth is that it usually takes a supreme effort and multiple high-quality touches to earn the conversation with a target prospect. So make the effort because very often you are beginning to build a relationship with prospects who have yet respond; you just don’t realize it yet.