If there is a single question I am asked more often than others, it’s: When do you stop calling on a prospect who either (1) fails to answer your emails, (2) does not return your phone calls, or (3) tells you they are not interested. This is a valid question. But it is also one that every single sales professional tussles with regardless of their industry.
Let’s look at this quandary from a different angle… by taking a walk in your prospect’s shoes.
How do you feel when an unfamiliar caller catches you by surprise? I am betting you give them the “bum’s rush,” as you immediately get back to what you were doing before the phone rang. Example: You finish your second cup of morning coffee before clicking on your computer to see if your latest Amazon Prime order has been shipped… only to spot 75 emails from people you do not recognize with “subject lines” bordering on “insulting.” Here is one more example: As you leave the gym after watching your daughter’s high school basketball game, a neighbor of yours approaches you in the parking lot asking, for the third time this week, if you are sure you do not want to buy four boxes girls scout cookies?
I am sure you do not look forward to any of these interruptions. Why is that? Because you had other things on your mind at the time, and none of these intrusions added any value to your current thought process.
Why should your prospects feel any different?
Answer: They don’t.
When somebody enters your world by surprise, and they attempt to introduce a new, unexpected train of thought, it is no wonder the outcome is negative more often than not.
Now let’s get back to you as the one with the selling agenda. Is it in your best interest to pack up your tent and quit after receiving an initial cold shoulder? This is a trick question. One answer is “definitely not.” Statistics tells us that it takes a number of contacts before a sale is consummated. But the truth is that you should not have to make that decision. The seasoned pros take the time, and do what is necessary to approach only those prospects who show signs of having “warm shoulders.”
This leads me to one of my all-time favorite sales postulates that there are only two types of people in the entire world (now exceeding over 7 billion people). “Those you can help… and the other kind.” The prospects who do not return your calls, answer your emails, or give you the ‘I’m just looking’ knee-jerk response, may or may not be valid prospects. After one try, you do not have enough information to categorize them.
This is where your carefully planned sales campaign slides over to Step 2. With spaced repletion as your guiding light, you need to approach these prospects from a slightly different angle with your second, third, and fourth attempts. There is no need for an entirely new approach. You are better off if you supplement the information shared in your initial contact. This is referred to as a “Drip Campaign.” This is when you piece-meal additional information in small bite-size doses.
Personally, I would have a Step 3 which would make clear that I am sincerely interested in scheduling some face-time with my prospect. If nothing exciting has happened after three tries, I would back off and make a note to reconnect in 8-10 weeks. (Do not fail to follow up.)
During that time, I see no harm in sending “meaningful” information to your prospects as it crosses your desk. My answer to “How often can you send?” My answer is whenever you have something worth sending. You are not “selling” here. You are “sharing.”
Now here comes the million-dollar question: How would you feel if your unsolicited caller followed up professionally and, after doing so, introduced you to information that could save you time and money without having to begin a business relationship?
I rest my case. Persistence will win in the end, but not at the cost of over-aggressiveness, appearing too needy, or failing to provide anything of true value.
Mike Marchev is always looking for a few more proactive travel professionals to join his Sales and Marketing Club. firstname.lastname@example.org.
*** You want more to think about? Check out my weekly podcast (Mike’d Up Marchev). Also listed on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google, and iHeartRadio.