Has Your Prospect Gone Silent? How Can You Get Them To Respond?

So, you’ve worked hard to customize a beneficial solution for your prospect, you’ve delivered the proposal, they seemed excited and appreciative, and now they won’t return your calls or emails. What can you do?

I've got many specific answers to this dilema and hope to share in the ongoing discussion, but in general I like to offer this very basic piece of advice ... be real with your prospect. Simply let them know what you need. You'd be amazed how helpful people are when they know you're being real with them. Something as simple as: "Hi Jennifer. I'm sorry for being a pest, but how is our proposal progressing? I need to provide an update to my boss on Thursday, so your help is appreciated. I know you're busy, so just a quick update will help me. If it's easier to call me, please do."

Will it work every time? No, but it will increase your success ratio.

Ok, I purposely didn't include a specific technique or idea because I'd like to hear from the group - what do you do to get your silent prospect to respond?

Thank you.

Chris


Call before their admin comes in.

Call the admin and ask them to ask their boss a question, under the pretense of 'just need to know x'. Then you can get feedback/interpretation from the admin, which be easier to 'read'.

Fed-ex them a bound proposal.

The 'gotta give an update to the boss' can be tricky; it's true that it will increase your chances of a meaningful interaction with the prospect (usually "no."). On the other hand, it diminishes your authority somewhat. Which you will need to make a believable 'take it or leave it' close.

Some don'ts:

Don't remind them of any deadlines they may have told you of. Like "The board wanted a decision by May 1, since its June..."

Go over their head. (Unless it really dead and the company is small.)

In my experience, this type of non-response means that your deal is dead about 85% of the time. If this is the case, nothing much that you can do matters - it's time to move on to the next opportunity and let this one go. If you are lucky, the prospect will remember you when circumstances change and call you in to quote again. Continuing to pursue a dead proposal will make you angry and frustrated and is a waste of time.

In many cases, a person without buying authority will call you in, get excited about your ideas, and ask you for a detailed proposal. You get excited, pull out all the stops and prepare an elegant design and elaborate proposal. Your guy gets the proposal and presents it to his boss, who doesn't share his enthusiasm and immediately rejects it. Your guy is too embarrassed to tell you that your efforts were a waste of time, and therefore avoids your calls and emails.

In the 15% of cases where your deal is not dead, your prospect is probably so swamped with work that she or he simply hasn't had the chance to get your proposal through the approval process. Your proposal, while important, hasn't reached the top of the priority list yet. In these cases, weekly reminder calls and emails can be effective in keeping the project on the prospect's mind.

In many cases, a person without buying authority will call you in, get excited about your ideas, and ask you for a detailed proposal. You get excited, pull out all the stops and prepare an elegant design and elaborate proposal. Your guy gets the proposal and presents it to his boss, who doesn't share his enthusiasm and immediately rejects it. Your guy is too embarrassed to tell you that your efforts were a waste of time, and therefore avoids your calls and emails.

Oh man, such a terrible and common situation.

#livingthedream

One other technique to qualify the opportunity, if you haven't already done so, is to offer a demo of the system, either at their site or to take them to a similar installation site. If they refuse the demo, chances are you won't get the project.

Not sure too many other end users are like this, but we like to see demos to see what is out there and available even if we have no intention of buying. Our National/International integrator brings nothing to us so we have to find what is going on out there on our own.

Our team’s time is precious but we can normally chisel out an hour every few weeks to get three or four of us to sit down and see a demo.

Ross, it sounds like your national integrator has taken you for granted. I did a long stint with one of these nationals, and we at corporate, would appreciate knowing if the local office was not being responsive to the client needs. A call to the VP of sales, may get you a little more respect.

Now that I work for a consulting company, manufacturers fall all over themselves for an opportunity to treat us to a lunch and learn (if I have to buy my lunch more than twice a week, it's a bad week). The local office for a national integrator is not in a position to provide much in the way of demos other than the main product they represent. The interesting innovation is in the devices: cameras, card readers, locks, communications, and sensors, and for that you need to reach out to the manufacturers or their distributors In the US. - unless you are in the middle of no where, they are generaly happy to send a rep out to demo product. What the local integrator should be providing you is a reality check, they may have worked with the vendor of the latest gewhiz device, and can give you an experianced perspective of how well the product does in the real world.

I think that its fine if end-users want to get a free education on the latest in security and surveillance products from integrators and manufacturers just so long as they are upfront about their intentions from the start. I think it's wrong when an end-user asks an integrator to do a design and a detailed proposal when there really isn't a project on the table, and all the end-user is trying to do is get an education so that they can write an RFP for what they really want.

In many cases, my clients will solicit proposals from several integrators, and once they receive them, decide that what they really need to do is hire a consultant. The integrators are then often mad at me for making them start over from scratch once I develop the actual project requirements and create my design.

Clients sometimes share the proposals that they received from integrators prior to hiring me. I'm always glad to see each integrator's design approach, but am also saddened by the many hours of wasted work that probably won't result in any revenue to the integrators.

Clarifying my previous comment, I know you are not talking about me specifically Mike, but want everyone to know that I NEVER ask for a proposal unless there is an actual project need behind it. We sit down for Demos when there is no project or need, but we do not request proposals. I agree that would be a waste of everyone’s time.

Ross,

No, I was definitely not talking about you. I think it is admirable when end-users care enough to participate in IPVM and other forums in order to keep their technical knowledge current.