Recently, I read a post on LinkedIn written by one of my colleagues about being ignored or getting the ‘silent treatment’ in business. He talked about how by not receiving a response to his email in the time he felt he should have turned into frustration. And, as a result, he was taking it personal and feeling ignored.
This feeling can be daunting for a salesperson. It can make you not want to reach out again in fear that you are bothering the other person. It can make you leave opportunities on the table, if you don’t have a plan for continuous follow up and reach out. And it can play on your psyche, if you let it. What is important to remember is that, most often than not, it’s not personal.
According to our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, ‘it takes an average of 8 touches to get an initial meeting (or other conversion) with a new prospect.’ But the initial meeting is just the beginning. It takes a lot more to make the sale. Depending on the product, idea, or service, closing sales takes time, and it takes time to gain trust and nurture the relationship. Sometimes it can be a quick decision, and other times, especially on high-ticket items, it can take a lot longer.
Both the sales person and the sales manager need to understand this. When reaching out to a prospect, either via email or by phone, you are an interruption to your prospect’s day. Decision makers have lots of other things going on that make your call an interruption. They could be dealing with a deadline on one of their projects, or an HR issue with one of their employees, or a broken-down photocopier when they are rushing out the door to a meeting. Unless it’s planned, please understand that your email or phone call is an interruption and may get buried in the chaos of a work day, week or even month.
Understanding this perspective makes things a lot easier in your sales approach. Eventually, when it is convenient for your prospect, they will either get back to you, or you will catch them at the right time via phone. Often, I’ve had the decision maker apologize for not being prompt in replying. It’s the salesperson’s job at that point to be understanding and show empathy for how busy they are. Saying something like ‘I understand how busy you are, it’s my job to follow up with you anyways’ can often warm up the conversation so you can quickly move past any perceived friction.
On the flip side, you can have a prospect who will take your call every time, who will reply to every email and still have no intention of buying. But they don’t want to come out and tell a salesperson in fear of hurting their feelings. In sales, we call this ‘Lip Service’ and it is a huge waste of time for a salesperson. I’d rather hear no, than continue to chase an empty opportunity. Of course, qualifying leads and understanding your prospect’s buying timelines will help make things clearer.
Nonetheless, however the sales process pans out, sales people and sales managers who are trying to hit deadlines and budgets need to know that ‘Your Urgency, Is Not Your Prospect’s Urgency.’ And even though your prospect may not have returned your call, or your email or has not scheduled a meeting with you, understand that ‘It’s not Personal, It’s Business.’
By Jody Euloth
Jody Euloth is the CEO of The Mesh Media Network and Founder of The Dynamic Soul of Selling. She helps entrepreneurs, business and sales professionals and creative visionaries get over their fear of selling so they can generate more revenue and make a bigger impact in business.
Social handles @jodyeuloth www.meshmedianetwork.com