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The first meeting went well, they seemed to like your proposal and you felt that you had built up a great rapport with them, when you spoke and talked about what they were looking for. You agreed a date and time to contact them again to progress things forward and you entered them into your CRM system as a new lead. You even gave the deal a 25% probability chance of success as you felt there really was an opportunity there but then it all went wrong. You called when you said you would, but they were not there. You tried again 30 minutes later but no answer. You guessed that they had been caught up with something and so sent a follow up email later in the day but didn’t get a response.
You continue to try and reach out to them a few days later but don’t hear anything back and suddenly the positivity that you had from the first conversation has turned into negative feelings as you just can’t get hold of this prospect! How many times have you experienced a similar scenario to this? It is one of the most frustrating things in the world when you are unable to reach a prospect that you had such great hopes for initially. Most people try a few more times and then give up on the prospect thinking that its not going to happen but if there was good business to be gained and the initial conversation seemed to go so well, why would you give up? Here are 4 alternative methods and ideas to use to try and get hold of that hard to reach prospect:
1. Call at different times in the day
If you are not able to get hold of someone then it could just be that they have a lot of different items on their priority list at the moment. I believe prospects have 4 key reasons for delay and your job is to find out which of these is stopping them from engaging with you. That is very difficult to do however when you can’t get hold of them and so try to call them at different times in the day.
Is your prospect an early riser? If so, then why not try and call them from 7.30am onwards so that you try to catch them before they get into the meat of their day. Or maybe try them before they head off in the evening at 6 or maybe even 7pm. I have even tried to make contact with someone on a Saturday morning once, but I did this only when I knew he used Saturday mornings to get items completed from the previous week. Many people have a concern about making contact in ‘non-work’ times but the reality is that if you have a hard to reach prospect, you won’t progress the opportunity and that means you don’t achieve the goals you have set.
If you do try at a different time and get through to the person, you MAY find they are frustrated at being contacted then but at least you have the chance to speak with them. Be friendly, be engaging but be direct. Ask them where you and your project really fit in with their plan and have a pre-determined script to use if they say they are busy or ‘don’t have the money’. The key thing is that you need to get in contact with them and get a status (a yes or no) on whether you are moving forward. Don’t make the mistake of getting through to them and then ‘freezing’ when they give you an initial rejection. (For advice on how to handle initial objections, watch this video.)
Your time is as valuable as theirs and whilst you don’t want to appear arrogant, you also don’t want to be walked over. Be open and clear with them and say ‘Are you still interested in moving things forward with my company?’ and wait for their response. Please note that I do not recommend you calling someone at 11pm or 5am in the morning and REALLY intruding into their personal life. No one is going to want to engage in a prospect conversation at that time and in all reality its likely to end any hope you have of working with them.
2. Call from a different number or to a different number
It is natural within us all to put off difficult situations. Within my DRIVER model on the skills you need to develop to be more successful with prospecting, the E is the word ‘EMOTION’ and how it is key you build an emotional connection with your prospects. The best way I advise others to do this is to ‘put myself in my prospects shoes’ and I know there are certain times when I get a call from someone or a number I recognise that I think ‘I don’t want to have that conversation now’. It could be that I feel I have let someone down, it could be that I know it’s something I need to do or it could be that it is just not a pain point or priority for me at the moment. The point is, when I see that number coming in on my phone, I think ‘Its xx’ and I don’t want to have this conversation at the moment. Your hard to reach prospects could be the same. They may still like you and your company and what you offer but just have other things on at the moment which is why they are not getting back to you.
One other key way to get around this problem therefore is to call from a different number. I have in the past used a different mobile number to get in contact with a prospect or tried to ring from an office number as the prospect knows my number but may not recognise the new number and so therefore might pick up.
This approach and tactic is one which may not work as some people don’t answer calls from numbers they don’t recognise but it’s certainly something to try if you are failing to get an answer from the number you generally use. Another approach to use is to ring a different number to what you have traditionally used. You may have built a relationship with the prospect by using their office number but if you have their mobile number on a business card then don’t be afraid to use this.
I hear those who feel uncomfortable with sales tell me a lot that they 'can’t ring the person’s mobile number’ and yet my response is always 'why not?' They put it on their business card for a reason and if you don’t try then you will never know or progress the opportunity you have. Note, if a home number has been provided on a business card, a web contact form or a website then I also think you have every right to use this, but I do not advise anyone to try and find out a prospects home number and then use this. This again could be seen very negatively by the prospect as an invasion of their privacy and can result in your call being very short and the opportunity being closed off very quickly!
3. Engage using different communication mediums such as social media and the written word
I am a big fan of picking up the phone and trying to speak with prospects and I feel that many companies that I work with use email too much, but you sometimes need to try other forms of communication to engage with hard to reach prospects. There are countless different methods which have been around for years which can work well to use and whilst none of these are able to give you the same quick response as a phone conversation, they can help you interact and try to get a response. Obviously, email is an easy way to reach out but in most cases, you may have already used this method and so another way is to use Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to try and make a connection. With Twitter it is easy to follow someone and then ask them via a tweet (ensure you use the @ sign with their twitter handle ie @jameswhitesales to ensure they get notified of the tweet).
Whilst he was not trying to sell anything to him, I always use the example of the postman who tweeted the golfer Sergio Garcia for 206 consecutive days asking him if he could caddy for him at a competition. Eventually Garcia said yes and the guy (Mark Johnston was his name) got what he wanted! I am not suggesting you tweet someone for 206 days in a row but do reach out on Twitter if you are struggling to get hold of someone. Facebook has invested significantly within its messenger application and this also presents you with an opportunity to engage with a hard to reach prospect if they have an account. Use this method if you have got to know the person, although be wary that many in business still see Facebook as being a tool for their personal life and so some won’t like you invading this area of their life with a sales message. LinkedIn and its messenger application is probably a more realistic route to take if you want to message a prospect and if you purchase the LinkedIn service then you can reach out with inmails to the prospect and once again see if they have opened and read your message.
The final (and sometimes forgotten) method is to use the written word to try and reach out. A clever way I have used is a handwritten card with a simple design on the front (or even design one at a site like FunkyPigeon.com) which is sent with a personal message. Something like the words below can have a great impact. John, I have struggled to get in contact with you since we spoke X weeks ago and despite my best efforts we have not been able to speak. I appreciate you have a lot going on but please can I ask that you let me know where we are with regard to the project. If your priorities have changed, then I totally understand that, and I would rather know this so that I don’t become a pain for you. My determination to achieve incredible results for my prospects means I will follow up until I hear what is happening and I don’t want my desire to help to become a nuisance. If you are still keen to move things forward, then just drop me a text or email (my details are X) with when is good for you to speak again. Wishing you continued business success.
The beauty about hand written cards is they tend to get opened and if positioned in the right way, will show the prospect that you are keen to engage with them but don’t want to become a pain. In most cases when I have used messages like this, I have had a response even if sometimes the response was a no. I encourage those I work with to change the type and tone of their communication when they also reach out in this way. Sometimes even asking ‘Did I do something wrong’ or ‘Have I offended you in anyway?’ is a method to see if the prospect has been put off by you or is just too busy to reply. Using other forms of communication is sometimes what you need to do and of course there is the option of turning up directly at their office location but be prepared to waste a lot of time if they don’t happen to be in at the time! I hope that these 3 methods are useful for you in trying to get hold of and engage with that hard to reach prospect! Let me know if you use them and they work or share with me tricks and tactics that work for you! Lets connect via Twitter @jameswhitesales and lets help ensure we all can make regain contact with those hard to reach prospects!
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