Posted: November 22, 2010
The case of the disappearing prospect
First he's buying -- then he's notGary Harvey
You've had several meetings with a prospective client. His last words were, "Everything looks good. I need to tie up a few loose ends. I'll call you next week so we can make this a done deal."
Next week has come and gone, but no phone call. And, when you call him, he's not available. You call back later and he's in a meeting. So, you leave a voicemail message...Frustration and disappointment turn to fear and panic.
Been there? Of course you have.
"Become Perpetually Unavailable" is one of the rules by which prospects play the game of sales. Once they have the information they need from you, they disappear. They now have an opportunity to take your information and compare it to your competitor's information.
What can you do to protect yourself from this scenario? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Never assume the sale is "in the bag." Prospects are very skilled keeping salespeople on the hook. They don't want to cut you loose too soon - just in case they need some additional information( unpaid consulting from you). The next time a prospect says everything "looks good," ask him exactly what that means.
2. Give prospects permission to tell you the truth. Tell your prospect up front that if at any point he begins to feel that there is not a fit between what you have to offer and what he is looking for, it's okay to say so. The sooner you discover potential problems or deal-breakers, the sooner you can address them. If one of those issues can't be resolved, you disqualify the prospect and redirect your efforts to uncovering more viable opportunities.
3. Don't accept weak commitments from your prospects. If a prospect says she is going to call you next week, ask her for a specific day and time. Treat it as an appointment, write it in your calendar, and ask her to do the same. Review the purpose of the call and what will be accomplished during the call. If the prospect is reluctant to make the commitment, consider that a sign of the prospect's eventual disappearing act and is more a suspect that can't tell you no, vs. a real prospect.
4. Be honest, assertive and up front with your prospects. Encourage them to be honest and up front with you. One way is telling them they can tell you no. It lowers their walls and creates more honesty on the call. Then, you'll spend more time developing opportunities and far less time chasing prospects(suspects) who disappear.
Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the world. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or firstname.lastname@example.org.