We’ve all encountered them…… those prospective customers who seemed genuinely interested in what we’re offering, they’ve requested a quotation and then….. nothing!
They don’t respond to your quotation, they don’t answer emails, they don’t take or return your calls. They just leave you hanging in limbo and your boss is on your back asking when that sale you were so confident about is going to close. Equally frustrating are those prospects that just say “maybe” and don’t seem to be able to make a decision, one way or another.
The obvious conclusion is that you’ve lost the sale but a lack of response could actually mean any number of things.
• Maybe they’re avoiding your email because they don’t want to give you bad news.
• Maybe they don’t have sufficient information to make a decision.
• Maybe they’re just so busy they haven’t even read your proposal yet.
• Maybe they’re on holiday.
• Maybe something’s changed within their business that impacts or delays the decision.
Of course, you could just keep chasing, but if, for whatever reason, they’re not ready to talk yet, then all you’re likely to achieve is an angry prospect or a frustrated gatekeeper who thinks you’re not listening when they tell you they can’t put you through to your contact.
Given that the first step of any sales process is building strong relationships, constant chasing is likely to destroy all of your early hard work, so how do you avoid this outcome?
One technique I learned long ago was the “last ditch email”. It’s deliberately designed to demonstrate that you understand that constant chasing isn’t helpful to your prospect, but is also designed to try and prompt a response. Last Ditch emails reiterate that you’re still here to help if it’s required, and that you’re not desperate to make a sale.
I’ve used three types of last ditch emails over the years.
1. Should I stop calling?
Hi [Contact name],
I’ve tried contacting you a few times recently but without success.
When we last talked, we discussed the challenges you face with [identified pain], and how [your product / service] could help [achieve required objectives] over [required timeframe].
Are you still interested in talking further? If not, please let me know so I can update our records.
This approach shows you’re interested in the prospect, and encourages them to respond irrespective of the reason for the previous radio silence. At best, it could restart the discussion, at worst, at least you’ll know not to waste any more time.
Alternatively, you can use a slightly softer approach:
2. I assume you’re not interested
Hi [Contact name],
I’ve tried contacting you a few times recently but without success. I don’t want to keep pestering you with unwanted messages, so unless I hear back from you I’ll assume that you’ve decided not to proceed or that your priorities have changed.
Of course, if anything changes in the future, please get in contact.
I like this approach, because it’s not specifically asking for a response, but is almost encouraging the prospect to feel guilty about not responding, especially if they’re still interested but just haven’t got around to responding, and it’s leaving the door firmly open to talking again in the future. When I first started using this technique, it was surprising how many responses it actually triggered.
3. Send in the Cavalry.
Prospects may seem to disappear from you, the salesperson, but they’re less likely to do so with the CEO of your company. If you need closure once and for all, draft an email as if you were your company’s CEO. Discuss this approach with your CEO first, explain that you need a little help moving the sale forward and ask them to send your already drafted email and to forward any response your way.
Hello [Contact name],
My name is X and I’m the CEO of [Company name]. [Sales rep name] said you recently had a demo of our product, and I wanted to personally reach out to see how you think it went.
Your business is important to us, and I’d like to help you in any way I can.
When I was a CEO we used this a few times; it demonstrates real interest in your prospect’s business from the most senior individual in your company, once again stressing the importance of a strong relationship.
Ultimately, by maintaining friendly and open communication, and not showing desperation you should be able to maintain the relationship and keep future opportunities alive.