Is That Sale Fading Away?
It’s a horrible feeling that every sales representative experiences in their career. You get a new inquiry and the initial call goes well. There is an interest and follow-up activity planned. Maybe you need to provide some detail specifications about your product, send a sample or perhaps schedule a demonstration. Over the next few weeks you complete the above and the interest grows stronger. The prospect asks for a proposal or quote and you get it over to them as soon as possible. You are elated as you start hearing those initial buying signals from the prospect such as;
- We really like what you have provided
- At this time, you are leading the pack
- We are leaning in your direction
In some cases, the feedback is even more positive, and they even tell you they hope to move ahead with you soon. You have a serious buyer in front of you and you put it on the forecast. What could be better?
Then things begin to slow down a bit.
There is little to no interaction with the prospect for a week or more, so you reach out to them. You cannot connect over the telephone, so you send an email but get no response. You start to get an uneasy feeling that something is wrong, but you are not in a panic mode yet. Maybe your contact is on vacation or at a trade show? Maybe they are wrapped up in another project and will get back to you soon? Or maybe something is really wrong here.
You want some feedback and you want to hear that they will be in touch shortly and that the deal is yours, but you just don’t know. This wouldn’t be the first time you got positive buying signals only to learn that the deal has been put on the back burner. So now what? How can you find out if this is simply a delay or if the deal is starting to fade away? Here is a tip that can help you to find out.
Most people would tell you that you need to get to the decision maker, plain and simple. That you need to be persistent and if you cannot connect with him or her then it’s not a good sign. I don’t like this approach for two reasons. First, the decision maker may simply be the person that approves the purchase or signs the check. They may not be personally engaged in the decision. Second, by contacting them you run the risk of alienating the person or people that you have engaged with throughout the process.
It’s best to start with contacting the people who you have built a rapport with. Express your concern then listen closely to their response. Give them a chance to provide you with an update. They may simply tell you that the decision maker has been out of town or that something else came up that was a higher priority, but that the decision will happen shortly so there is no need to worry.
They may however present some doubt by indicating that they do not know where the decision stands, when it may happen, or which product or company they are leaning towards. It’s still not time to panic, but this would be the time to make that call to the person whom you believe is the decision maker and express why you are calling. Be professional and tell them that you have been working closely with their team and look forward to working with them. This will open the door to a response which might be “Yes, we plan to move forward with you in the coming days” or they may suggest that you contact someone else in the firm regarding this. If it’s the latter that’s OK, because you can inform that person that you were instructed to contact them directly by the decision maker. This is bound to generate a response and hopefully a positive one.