Sales Prospects Avoiding You?
This issue's topic on sales prospects comes in response to a question I received from a reader.
Question:Five weeks ago, I had a good conversation on the phone with an important prospect in my territory. They have a need for our product and the prospect seems to acknowledge this as well. Every time I have talked to him, he has been very interested and seemingly aware of the problem in his company that our product can help solve. I sell print management and print tracking software and the prospect acknowledged that the cost of printing is an issue for his organization. Last time we talked, he indicated he needed to gather some information regarding his current operating cost (which we most likely would be able to cut) before coming in for a demo. But when I called back at the time we had agreed upon, I kept getting voicemail. I have not been able to get him on the phone and he doesn't respond to the voicemails I left either. What do you recommend I do?"
When Sales Prospects Won't Take Your Calls
When sales prospects stop taking your calls, it's never a good sign. It means one of three things:
You said that this is a very important sales prospect for you. I assume that your print management and print tracking software are high ticket items for which there are a limited number of companies in your territory who can afford them. If this is true, then you should pursue it further. If on the other hand you have many sales prospects in your territory, then you should probably move on.
If you choose to pursue, you need to get to someone who can make something happen. I recommend that you get your management to go over your contact's head to the executive who would be most impacted by this decision.
Salespeople often get nervous about going over someone's head. We think of this as a high-risk maneuver. The risk of going over someone's head at this point is actually lower than continuing what you are doing. Right now, the prospect is not treating you as a partner - he is treating you as a salesperson that he can dump on.
By going over his head, you can speed up getting to either a yes or no. Continuing to leave voicemails is only going to drag out what will then probably be a no.
Call your contact first and let him know that a call will be coming in. Leave a voicemail and say something like this: "The President of my company wants to speak to all of our best new prospective customers. He'll be calling your VP on Wednesday. I thought that you would like to know before he calls. Please call me."
This move alone may get you a call-back from your contact. If so, tell him that your President wants to speak to their VP because he knows that you can save their company money. Tell your contact that your President will be calling, unless you two can come up with a reason why he shouldn't at this time.
This call and your President's subsequent call should shake things up and either get the deal moving forward or off your forecast altogether.
Look at this way. If your sales prospects cannot get any budget money or are too busy with higher priority projects, then going to an executive gives your management the opportunity to make your case. If they are working with a competitor, then your management can position why the prospect should look at you also. If neither you nor your management can get through or get callbacks, then it's a pretty clear sign that they aren't going to do business with you.
© 1999-2004 Shamus Brown, All Rights Reserved.