Don’t you just hate it when a prospect, seemingly very interested in the work you do, suddenly stops returning your calls and e-mails without an explanation as to why? Are these cold prospects a lost cause?
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 absent any communication from them, we’d be doing only that… speculating.
Did you know that sometimes prospects hate to say “no” as much as we hate to hear “no?”
So how should you handle these hot leads that turn into cold prospects? Do you give up? Do you persist? Keep reading…
Before we get started, here are 2 notes to keep in mind about the strategies I’m about to share:
1. You probably won’t do all of these items, but they aren’t mutually exclusive and can be combined or employed over time.
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.
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 might 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).
In an email or voicemail, say something like the below to cold prospects can ignite the conversation again …
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.
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, 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.
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.
This is often the hardest thing for many professionals to do. Going for the “no” usually produces one of two results: 1. either the prospect acknowledges that things have changed, and you can release them from your psyche; or 2. 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 since, 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.
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.
Cindy, I have not heard from you in a while, and I’m starting to get a bit worried. I’ve narrowed it down to two potential reasons (please check all that apply).
___ 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. I’ll circle back after the playoffs.
Having fun should always be an option, but use it appropriately based on what you know about your prospect. Also, it’s important to note that sometimes humor does not translate via email in the same way that it would over the phone or face-to-face (due to the lack of inflection, facial expression, body language, etc.) If communicating via e-mail, make sure that the fact that you are joking around is clear.
What steps or other ideas would you like to add to this short list? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comment below. We can all learn from each other. Thanks!
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