Don’t you just hate it when a prospect, seemingly very interested in the work you do, suddenly goes MIA?
Of course, there are any number of reasons why this can happen. It’s possible, that you didn’t create a compelling enough reason for them to remain interested and to continue to move forward with you. Or perhaps something changed on their side and they don’t feel obliged to let you know. We can speculate from now until forever, but absence any communication from them, we’d only be speculating.
Did you know that sometimes prospects hate to say “no” as much as we don’t like to hear “no?” So what should you do? Do you give up? Do you persist?
Here are five actions you can take to thaw prospects who have gone cold.
Note 1– You probably won’t do all of these items, but they aren’t mutually exclusive and can be combined or employed over time.
Note 2 – I do not expect you to use the language I provide below verbatim. While words are always important, how you say the words is even more important – especially in situations like this. Tone does not always come across in an email, so you’ll need to determine if the message you leave will work in an email or is more suited to a voice message.
Action #1 – Ask your referral source or advocate inside the organization.
If you were introduced to the prospect or have an advocate inside an organization, your first step should be to check with them; to see what you can learn.
Just be curious to see what they have heard or may know that is impacting the situation. Sometimes they’ll come to your rescue and get the process moving again.
Diane, I wanted to let you know how it’s been going with George. At first, he seemed quite interested. We had a couple of phone calls and then met in person for almost an hour. Unless I read the situation totally wrong, he seemed very interested in moving forward with us.
However, my last two attempts to reach him have gone unanswered. I certainly don’t want to come across as a pest.
Perhaps you are aware of something that might be impacting this situation?
What do you suggest we do next?
Notice that I used the word “we.” Being introduced to a prospect should usually continue as a collaborative approach (whenever possible).
Action #2 – Be genuinely transparent.
In an email or voice mail, say something like this:
George, I’m wondering if you could help me out with something. Based on our phone calls and our last meeting, you seem genuinely interested in how we might be able to help you __________(restate their main problem / gap / opportunity).
Since then, I’ve not heard from you and am uncertain how to keep our conversation going.
Of course, if your situation has changed or you’ve decided to move in a different direction, that’s certainly okay with me. I’d just like to know how to proceed from here.
Action #3 – Explore the opportunity/cost equation.
Hopefully, you did this when you met, but if you didn’t (or even if you did), briefly go through the opportunity of action and the cost of inaction.
George, let’s explore what I like to call the “opportunity/cost equation.” Based on everything we’ve discussed, here’s my perspective.
If we move forward with my proposal right away, here are the benefits we can expect ________.
On the other hand, the cost of doing nothing will likely play out like this __________.
If something has changed on your end, then let’s discuss how that might impact this simple equation. Either way, I’d like to schedule a quick phone call to keep the conversation going.
Action #4 – Stay in touch leading with value.
If you truly believe you can bring great value to your prospect and the prospect represents an opportunity worth investing in, then stay in touch, but leading with value.
Drip articles, videos, ideas, links, reports, checklist, etc., etc.; whatever you can find that’s relevant to their situation.
Also, find ways to be in touch in a more personal nature; such as what their favorite sports team did over the weekend or something related to one of their hobbies.
Whatever you do, be mindful to look super professional and NOT make your referral source or advocate regret making the introduction.
Action #5 – Go for the “no.”
This is often the hardest thing for many professionals to do. Going for the “no” usually produces one of two results: either they acknowledge that things have changed and you can release them from your psyche, or this will wake them up and re-engage.
George, I’m hoping you can help me out. At our last meeting, I left with the impression that you were very interested in moving forward with us.
Since I haven’t heard from you, I was wondering if things have changed on your side and that perhaps I should stop reaching out to you.
While I sincerely believe we can help you solve your challenge and help you reach your goals, I don’t want to keep reaching out if you’ve lost interest.
If I don’t hear from you, I’ll move on. My preference, however, is to always know the full picture. I hope to hear back from you soon to see what the next step should be.
BONUS Action Step – Have some fun.
When I know that my prospect has a good sense of humor and/or we’ve had a good connection, I will often add an element of humor in my messaging.
Sometimes I’ll use some self-deprecating humor. Over the years, I’ve sent fun emails containing a simple checklist asking them to click the reason why I’ve not heard from them.
___ I was marooned on a desert island and just got home. Give me a couple of days.
___ The Yankees needed some help in the bullpen, so they called me up for the remainder of the season.
Having fun should always be an option but use it appropriately to what you know about your prospect.