“I’d rather hear the ugly truth than an obscure lie.” – Ana Monnar
In sales and marketing, one of the most challenging situations is that interim time when you’ve gotten a lead, spoken to or connected with the person, perhaps provided your proposal, quote, or pricing, and then….nothing. You drop them a no-pressure email to ask how they’re getting on, and there’s no reply. You ring them – at work, on the mobile, even (tremblingly) at home – and they don’t return your call, or even if they answer, they’re in a rush and promise to ring you back. They’ve got every reason in the book – their biggest customer left, they threw out their back, someone’s in hospital, they had to change mobile phone numbers – but eventually you work out that they’re just not interested, and you move on.
And part of you wishes they would just have the courtesy to say “No thanks, I’m not interested”, rather than dragging you on this slow course of uncertainty.
But the truth you need to be aware of is that many times the answer actually is not “No”. They really are interested. They like your product. They like you as a person. They can see themselves going ahead and they think you offer good value for money. But for a variety of reasons the prospect may not understand themselves, they’re just not ready yet.
And this is the time when you have to shine.
Because (as we’ve talked about before) this is the point at which most companies give up. And by ‘most’, I mean quite literally 95 – 99% of companies that have been in touch with the same person. So here are my tips to keep you in the game.
Getting discouraged about prospects who won’t return calls doesn’t bode well for future marketing efforts. You start to think, “What is the use?” and your shoulders slump. Don’t fall into that trap. Take my word for it (from someone who has worked with people who initially contacted me over ten years ago), there are so many people for whom it’s not that your product or service isn’t right, it just isn’t right now.
Make diary notes.
If they like you and your business and the idea of working with you (or buying your product), most likely they’ll say things like “contact me again in two months” – or six months, or a week, or whatever. I very often have people throw out these vague terms. So, whilst they’re on the phone, I pull up my online diary and say, “So I’ll ring you on the 15th of November? Does that sound okay?” They always say that’s fine; whether or not they remember by then isn’t important. It’s most important that I stay committed to what I’ve said I will do. Sometimes, after I’ve phoned when I said I would three or four times, and I’m still getting the brush-off (albeit the kind, friendly, ‘I wish I could’ brush-off), I just step back. Maybe they need breathing room. Maybe they want to read more reviews, or hear more from others.
Use a good follow up system.
A good follow up system can be as simple as my diary notes and a phone call; but it does help if you keep records of everything in an online CRM system. We have an amazing one that we use (Infusionsoft), but quite frankly it’s so intensive to set up and has so many possibilities that you’re better off talking to us or someone else who knows what they’re doing, and getting us to set everything up for you. We’re huge believers in you using your time to actually help clients or develop products or save the world. Not trying to learn a new software or system. But do take notes, and do follow it, to the letter.
This is where your CRM system will come in handy. How many times have they been in touch? Emailed you? Downloaded a report? Attended a webinar? The more points of contact they have with you, the more likely it is they’re ready to connect, possibly even buy. And if they’re not, you just leave them in the system and let it filter them out. This is why I love online marketing so much – sometimes a contact will register for an event, fill in a form, send us an email, and then…nothing. No worries – we’re here. When they’re ready, they’ll find us again. Which leads to my next point.
You have to be extremely visible – and findable – online. This means having a good, clean website with clear calls to action. Regular blog posts which are emailed, tweeted, and shared. Email newsletters. Webinars or other events. Videos. Facebook posts. The benefit to the ‘social media stream’ is that when someone is ready, you’re there. I don’t know how many times as a photographer I have posted new photos to my Facebook page that everyone comments on, and that day I suddenly get people texting me or emailing me to say they’re ready to meet, or pay a deposit, or chat further. They got reminded that I’m still around, and still doing good things. A nice lead in to my final point….
Do awesome things.
Prospects don’t want you to be moping around by the phone wishing they would call. They want to be impressed that you had time to ring them, because they’ve seen you everywhere lately. Heard you on a webinar or podcast. Read quotes you tweeted the other day. Scrolled through a blog post. Watched a video. Uploaded customer testimonials. Developed a new product or service. It impresses people, and it keeps you in the game also.
So don’t despair, keep staying in touch, and be everywhere. It will come round – and many of your prospects will come round. Don’t worry. Just go and be awesome for a while. (I’ll be here.)