By Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling®
Every sales professional has them. Those deadly lingering prospects. The ones that never buy anything. They say, “Not just yet….” They say “Not quite ready….” They say, “Call me back in a couple of weeks…” or “Call me back in a month…” or “Call me back in six months…” over and over and over. And you do call them back over and over and over and they never buy anything. They say, “Not just yet….” They say “Not quite ready….” They say, “Call me back in a couple of weeks…” or “Call me back in a month…” or “Call me back in a few months…” over and over and over.
We’ve all been there. Calling that prospect, hoping this time will be different, hoping this time they’ll say, “yes” and that this call will make up for all the previous calls and all the time spent. Besides, if you don’t call them, then maybe your competition will… the nightmare of all nightmares… your prospect that you’ve been calling for years now will buy from someone else. You don’t want that to happen. Oh no! And so, you do call them again and they don’t buy anything. They say, “Not just yet….” They say “Not quite ready….”
So how do you end this vicious cycle that breaks so many sales professionals’ hearts?
Step one: Identify and only pursue qualified prospects. Make sure that you know what makes a prospect qualified for you. One reason prospects do not convert into customers is that they were never really qualified in the first place.
Step two: Ask the tough questions. In your conversations with your prospects, look to qualify prospects out. Ask the questions that you need to ask: Questions about the process, the budget and how that decision will be made. If your prospect gives you information that tells you that you’re no longer speaking with a qualified prospect, stop pursuing them.
Some times prospects do have legitimate reasons for asking you to call back at a later date. And that’s ok. If a prospect has a legitimate reason, then by all means call them back when they have asked you to call back. (Just make the call a little earlier than the prospect has suggested. It’s always better to be a little early than to be too late.) If, however, your prospect has not explained why they want you to call back at a later date then make sure to ask what will have changed between now and the time they want a follow up call.
And lastly, if you have prospects that you have been following up with time after time after time and getting nowhere, ask those prospects if there is a real and legitimate possibility of doing business together in the foreseeable future.
If your prospect cannot give you some assurance that there is legitimate interest, stop pursuing them. They are not going to become your customer.
Letting go of prospects is hard to do. When you let go of those inappropriate prospects, that will never buy from you, that will free you to pursue real prospects. The ones that will say, “yes.” Letting go is hard to do… but well worth it in the end.