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PRETEND THAT A PROSPECT has called, indicating a strong need for what you’re selling. You meet with him, identify he is a good fit for your firm, and develop a proposal for how you might work together. You pitch with perfection, see all the right buying signals, and then hear these dreaded words: “Let me get back with you.” However, you’re not panicking. After all, the prospect seemed prepared to move forward. You follow up a few days after your meeting, but you don’t get a response. Days stretch into weeks, and after several attempts at follow up, you grow increasingly concerned and confused. Why has this hot prospect gone cold? Often what happened is the pain that caused your prospect to pick up the phone isn’t his biggest problem any longer. Life crept in to divert your prospect’s attention. Not to worry. Unless your prospect was a tire kicker, he will likely warm up again. However, there are a few steps you can take to shorten the time between initial interest and ultimate decision. The key is knowing how and when to stay in touch. In 2011, the National Sales Executive Association reported that 80 percent of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact with a prospect. This same report indicates that nearly 50 percent of salespeople quit after just the first contact, never making a second contact — and only ten percent make more than three contacts with a prospect. That means that 90 percent of sales teams are working entirely too hard. You shouldn’t interpret lack of a response as a firm “no,” but you should get creative. Be smart. Make each of your five or more contacts count. Instead of following up by email or phone like every other salesperson, differentiate yourself in your follow-up methods. Mix it up. Plan a variety of contact points to offer your prospect additional value, making yourself stand out in the process. Consider a three-dimensional mailing, such as an educational or inspirational book. Consider hiring a courier to deliver that package straight into your prospect’s hands for maximum effect. Another quick, simple strategy is a handwritten note. It’s a lost art, but if done well, demonstrates your thoughtfulness. Make sure it doesn’t sound like a form letter by commenting on a specific part of your last meeting with the prospect. Keep your message short, and mail it within 24 hours of your last meeting. Be willing to go the extra mile. Consider inviting your prospect to a special event, or better yet, send a new business lead his way. After several unreturned contacts, consider calling your prospect before or after hours to ensure you get his voice mail. Script out and practice a voice mail message that explains you are concerned that you’re becoming a pest. Ask the prospect directly whether you should stay or go. Explain that you genuinely believe you can solve his problem, but that ultimately, you recognize that it is his choice to make. This strategy helps get you more quickly to a firm response — one way or the other. Don’t assume that the answer is “no” until the prospect says so, but if he does decline, be thankful for the gift of clarity.

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RedRover Sales & Marketing

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