It happens to us all. You had a great conversation with a prospect that led to a great tour path. The prospect asked lots of great questions and you felt as though you had great rapport.
The only thing that went wrong was that at the end when you asked the prospect to commit to the lease, they responded with the proverbial, “Let us get back to you.” Maybe they needed to look at another couple communities on their list or they wanted to talk with their parents, friends, clergy, etc. In the end, it doesn’t matter; they simply didn’t commit.
Since that time you’ve sent multiple emails, left several voice mails…and nothing. You can’t imagine they’ve signed a lease elsewhere, but their complete lack of responsiveness allows you to make no other conclusion.
Your prospect has entered “sales purgatory,” where they won’t say “yes,” but they don’t say “no” either. There’s probably nothing more frustrating for a salesperson than dealing with such a situation.
The most important thing to remember in this situation is that sales stall for a variety of reasons. I am always surprised to learn what caused the stall. As a salesperson, we can’t help but assume that whatever is happening is directly related to us. Most often that is not the case. Your prospect could have gotten busy at work, be dealing with a family problem or simply lost focus.
Recently we were working with a client to discuss our InSite Sales Program and things went completely dark. Nothing we did seemed to work. Then one morning I opened my email and there was a request from our client to make an adjustment to our agreement. Two weeks later, we had a signed agreement and are moving forward.
Interestingly, I still can’t tell you what caused the problem. My team and I were convinced that they didn’t like something about our proposal and the reality turned out to be quite different.
While this situation will happen to every salesperson, the best have a strategy for dealing with it. The key in these situations is to get the conversation going but stay patient. Make it safe, and give your prospect a reason to reengage with you.
Here are 3 things you can do the next time you confront this situation.1. The Rule of Two
In the rule of two you simply and concisely express to the prospect that their actions typically fall into one of two groups; one disqualifies them while the other does not. In the process you give them permission to choose the disqualifying reason. You can use this technique in a live situation, via email or voice mail. For example you could say or write something like this:
John and Judy, Typically after someone hasn’t returned my calls they fall into one of two groups. The first group is people that have been tremendously busy and just haven’t had the time to respond. The second, and please know it’s okay if you’re in the second group, are really just being polite or trying to avoid telling me that they’re no longer interested. Could you please let me know which group you fall into?2. Be Clear and Create Urgency
It has been said that great communication is not communicating so that you can be understood, it’s communicating so you can’t be misunderstood. A major cause of sales purgatory is a lack of clear communication. For example, don’t say “please call me back when you get a chance.” Instead say, “can you please call me back by 5pm on Thursday.”
Additionally, you want to create a sense of urgency and specific reasons to respond. Remind them that the lease terms are subject to change, or that a floor plan availability is limited. Another good way to get people to call you back is to consider the conversation you had with them, and highlight that you’ve got some additional information that you’d like to share.3. The Breakup Email/Voice Mail
One of the most effective ways I’ve been able to get stalled opportunities to “wake up” is with what I like to call the “break up” communication. The key here is that you’re giving them permission to say “no” to you, and by taking the pressure away, they’re more likely to respond.
Here’s an example of a breakup email:
I’ve noticed that you haven’t acted on any of the emails I’ve sent you regarding [topic]. It might just be that you don’t have any interest in the subject -- and that’s okay. I just need to know whether or not to keep trying.
Based on our conversations, I’m quite confident that [community] is the right one for you, and one you’ll love calling your home. However, since you haven’t responded to my communications, I’m assuming you no longer with to pursue this. If that’s the case, I wish you the best.
Please let me know if there’s any way I can help in the future.
There’s always the chance that the sales process will stall. Remember that in most cases it has nothing to do with you but be prepared to get the process moving again with the ideas presented today.