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What to Do When Your Prospect Goes Silent

Selling Skills | Prospecting

On this episode, Ema Roloff asks: How do you re-engage a customer, who has given a verbal, that has gone silent? What ways have you re-engaged a client after weeks of radio silence? 

 

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Video Transcript

That's a great question and unfortunately it happens all too often. It's frustrating, you seem like you have someone with legitimate interest. They're sending you some positive buying signs, and then all of a sudden, you've sent out a proposal and they stopped responding to your phone calls and your e-mails. And you're wondering, "What's really going on here?
 
They seem so positive when I was initially engaged with them. And I think it points to the importance of qualification early on. Sometimes when we're getting good feedback from a prospect, we have a tendency to overlook qualification and follow the buying signals that we're getting.
 
There's this temptation, we're getting good news, build on that good news and then we end up with a proposal, and then radio silence. Very frustrating, and it gets back to thinking about, yes, we want to build on that positive feedback that we're getting from that prospect but it gives us an opportunity to qualify.
 
I want to share with you a simple qualification technique, it's called "BANT." BANT is an acronym that stands for budget, authority, need, and timing.
 
So we're getting that positive feedback and then we may want to start by exploring budget. "That's really interesting. Is this something that's currently a budgeted initiative?" If they say, "Yes", great. "Well when are you thinking about implementing?" That gets to the timing.
 
Or if it's not, "who would be involved in approving that budget?" "Can I learn a little bit more about, what would it take to implement a solution like this at your company."
 
Authority, "Oh that's great, now I'm pleased that it's budgeted initiative. Sounds really exciting. Who else besides you would be involved in the decision-making process?"
 
So let's start to understand if there's more decision-makers involved. And one of the things that we've found recently is that as you have more complex decisions, the number of decision-makers involved can grow exponentially.
 
I was doing an interview recently for a magazine on this topic and when you have complex solutions, it may impact IT, it could impact finance, it could impact sales, it could impact marketing. So there may be more people involved in understanding the roles that influencers and their level of authority is important. The business need is crucial. Even if there's budgeted authority, if there isn't a viable business need then the proposal may not still get approve. So you want to use this idea of need to really sell value. The value that your solution presents and how it helps them solve their business need.
 
The last area, timing. This may have come up with budget, this may have come up with authority. But it's still important to ask them, "Assuming you were to move forward with this, when would you like to see it implemented?" You're trying to get a sense for how soon. This simple qualification techniques are important not only when you're getting some resistance, but also when you're getting those buying signals. It's easier to ask, you should ask them in a casual but authentic manner.
 
Now, you're not only building on the positive feedback, you're figuring out exactly what is going to take for you to get a signature and move your solution forward within that organization.

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About Norman Behar

Norman Behar is Chairman and Managing Director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience, and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.