It happens quite a bit, especially in a consultative sales environment. You’ve established good rapport, it’s a good fit, you’ve had good meetings and then nothing – just silence.
Your phone calls don’t get returned, your e-mails go unanswered and then, you feel that you must have done something wrong!
Well, don’t despair! It often has nothing to do with you or your service offering or you as a sales person. Prospects need time to review and digest.
They need time to get approval and buy-in from internal departments. And sometimes they discover that the solution or product that they wanted to purchase is not as essential as they originally thought.
What’s a sales person to do? In my experience, you CAN add value whenever possible, but there is not a lot else you can do other than wait it out.
Examples of Stalled Sales
Here are some scenarios that I’ve experienced that led to a stalled sales process:
1) My contact was hospitalized with acute pneumonia (I was informed by this person’s assistant two weeks after the incident). So I decided to send a Get Well card. Two months after my contact came out of the hospital I closed the business. Compassion and patience paid off.
2) The decision maker was let go. In that case you need to basically start from scratch and see if you can develop rapport and convince the new person to work with you.
3) The boss’ decision maker was let go. Another scenario where you just need to be patient and hope that your contact will lobby for you and your offering.
4) The company was bought. As a result everybody was afraid that they might lose their job. Be compassionate and supportive and if your contact still has a job after things settle down, it will pay off.
5) The wife of my contact had a premature baby and the last thing he wanted to do was negotiate a contract. Again, sit it out and be patient.
All of these types of developments are out of your control and really have nothing to do with you or your service offering. Don’t – and I really mean DON’T- try to be aggressive and start calling or e-mailing them over and over. You could drive them to NOT wanting to buy from you, even if they had viewed your offering as the favorite.
Give them the time to do what needs to be done and sit back. If you find an interesting article that might help them understand the value of your service or product offering, send it to them. Start with a line that says “Just thinking of you, thought you might be interested in the attached” and then wait a bit more.
To Pursue or Not To Pursue
Our instincts often tell us to pursue and hunt, and that’s usually what we as sales people are expected to do. But the reality is that it has to be a good fit and good timing. Your offering has to be something that the prospect really wants and needs at the time. There is no point in convincing your prospect if they are not ready, for whatever reason. You pursuing them will not accelerate the process, it will put you in a position where you might lose the sale.
If you are sure that you did everything possible to provide your prospect with the necessary information to make a decision, that’s really all you can do. Everything else is up to them. Either, it’s going to happen or it won’t. I have yet to see somebody being convinced to buy because the sales person was on them all the time.
To me it’s almost like a marriage proposal. If you propose to somebody and they are not really ready, or don’t think this is the right fit for them, they’ll say “No”, or if they say “Yes” due to convincing circumstances, the marriage will suffer. It’s bound to happen. There will be resentment, unnecessary criticism and a sense that you had to do something that you didn’t want.
Remember the song “You can’t hurry love”. Well, you can’t hurry sales, either.Tags: consultative sales, consultative selling, sales process, stalled sales