Voicemail. Email. More voicemail. A few more emails. Wondering what is going on. Making excuses in your mind why the prospect is not calling you back. Talking with your manager about all the possible scenarios as to why the deal you have been working on (and forecasting) has not closed. More email. Maybe another voicemail. Complete exasperation. Staring at your CRM and pipeline wondering, Will you ever be able to mark this deal as closed?
Does this sound familiar? It’s the sound of the frustrated sales rep. We have all been there. Every sales rep on the planet has been there. It can be a frequent trip, and there are no frequent flier miles for that one!
Maybe it’s time you fired your prospect. Yes, I said “fired.” Shocked? Don’t be. It happens all the time and maybe it should happen more. It happens when we as sales professionals do everything we can to close the order. All of the right things have happened. The buying signals have been strong. Contracts submitted. According to our prospects, we are just “waiting for the signature.” Days turn to weeks. Weeks turn to months. We don’t know what to do. So as a final gesture we call the prospect and say something that might sound like “I have not heard from you, so I am assuming you are no longer interested in our offering. I am withdrawing the offer as we agreed. Good luck to you and I truly wish you the best. Thank you for the opportunity to work with you.”
Whoa! A sales rep challenging the prospect to stand up and deliver! The audacity! The temerity of that rep! Then guess what happens? The prospect might call and bring the deal back to life! It happens every day. I have done this, and I have coached my reps and managers to do it. It can be liberating. We have closure and we can move on.
You essentially fired your prospect, who…responded!
Sales is a two-way street. It involves a genuine and honest sales professional dealing with a genuine and honest prospect. It means a relationship has been built so that should the prospect go radio silent, we know why. We owe the prospect everything we can to conduct a credible sales campaign. The prospect owes us the respect to communicate the intentions.
Friends, think about this the next time you have a situation like what I have described. If you decide to take the step of firing your prospect, be sure you follow these steps: Be polite, be sensitive, and be professional and thankful for their time. Do not be antagonistic. Watch your tone of voice, be confident, and be ready to walk away. Take the high road, and keep your head held high.
Whatever you decide, do not burn the bridge that the prospect needs to walk back across to meet you. The reasons he or she went silent may have nothing to do with you or the sales campaign. It may be a personal or an unrelated reason. Give the prospect the chance to explain and meet you on the bridge.
Todd Cohen is the principal of Sales Leader, LLC, a speaking and consulting firm focused on growing sales through sales culture. Visit www.ToddCohen.com for more information.