Persistence… The Final Myth:
Just Say No
Salespeople are often faced with unresolved deals in their pipeline that they normally give up on or persist beyond any reasonable hope. There is a middle ground that is appropriate when you have reached the point of no return, your prospect is stringing you along in that they are taking you down the primrose path, and is not returning your repeated phone calls or emails.
You have to learn to let go and get closure on potentially bad deals that have gone way beyond their natural expiration date. This is hard for salespeople. As long as you believe that a good salesperson never quits, you will continue to have full pipelines of prospects who have a genuine, sincere interest in your product, but a passive and casual interest to act upon it. Good salespeople know where they can sell and when to quit. There are always two winners in a sales transaction. The first is the one who was awarded the contract. The second is the one who lost early, easily and effortlessly.
Closing the file allows you to preserve your self-dignity by receiving closure and gaining respect from prospects because you are willing to walk away.
Here are the key points and principles to be aware of and utilize when formulating your emails and voice mails when getting final closure:
- Tonality should be neutral, non-enthusiastic, warm and considerate
- If they are really interested they will not let you leave
- The more you make “no” available to your prospects, the easier it is for them not to have to use it: You essentially take the pressure off them
- By honoring their position and allowing them to come to their own conclusions, independent of your own agenda and influence, you build a future platform of trust and respect
- Take 100% responsibility for the lack of responsiveness of your prospects. Either you railroaded them into agreeing to be interested when they weren’t or you were never on the right track to be privy to their priorities and their corresponding competing initiatives
A word of caution: don’t have unrealistic expectations of prospects flocking to their computers or phones to return your call or email. Typically by the time you give the final closure message, your chances of revival have typically diminished tremendously. A return message of 10%-20% is average and can be expected in most industries.
The following are examples that you can snail mail, email, fax or leave as a voice mail:
- “I’ve exhausted my repertoire of follow-up options. I sense that any more contact attempts on my part will be a nuisance to you, if it hasn’t already. So, I don’t want to waste any more of your time and patience. Could you give me the courtesy of leaving a message on my voice mail or email me as to what the status is? Thank you for your attention and consideration.
- “I’ve been trying to reach you for the past couple of weeks to no avail. I can safely assume you are busy and juggling many priorities. I know you are under no obligation to get back to me, but if you could send me an email as to where you stand on our proposal, I’d very much appreciate it. If I don’t hear back from you I’ll assume it is a dead issue and I’ll take you off my active call list. Thank you for the courtesy.”
- “You have asked me to do some work on your behalf and I have followed through on that request. I have left you numerous messages to provide you with that information and I would be greatly indebted to you for the courtesy of a return call. If I don’t hear back, I will assume it is a dead issue and I will graciously take you off my active call list. Thanks.”
- “I want to hold up my end of the bargain by following up with you in good faith one last time. When we last met I believe I may have cornered you into agreeing to move forward, without giving you the option to do otherwise. I have been in the business long enough to know that when someone hasn’t returned phone calls it is for a good reason. Could you extend me the professional courtesy as to where you stand? That way I can respect your time. If you are no longer interested, please give me a call to that effect. If I don’t hear back from you by next week I’ll graciously take you off my active call list.“
The following is additional verbiage you can use to add or replace from the proceeding examples. Guilt and shame are a subtle pretext that is imbedded in these examples. However, don’t lay it on too thick or it will backfire:
- “I wanted to hold up my end of the bargain by contacting you one last time.”
- “I wanted to try to appeal to your sense of fair play and ask if you could give me closure, so that I don’t overextend my welcome here.”
- “In the spirit of fair play I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt and call you one last time.”
- “While it would be nice to do business with you, I’ll respect your decision either way.”
- “Any further calling on my part risks being a breach of professional conduct. If I don’t hear back from you this week, I’ll assume this is a dead deal and I’ll cease any further efforts to contact you. If by chance you are still interested, don’t hesitate to call me or email me. “
In sales it is crucial to realize that your job has more to do with getting people to make decisions and receiving resolution than it does in convincing and persuading. Therefore, you shouldn’t feel apprehensive in getting prospects to give you a negative response. Getting closure allows you to emotionally move on and not be tied down with a pipeline of deals that are united by false hope.
Getting closure is a great strategy to keep your head in the game. By forcing the issue to get decisions or to make decisions for your prospects, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and potential hassles. In sales there are always two winners; the one who was awarded the deal and the one who lost quickly, easily and with minimal expenditure of time, effort and resources.