Let’s face it – your clients are lazy. And your prospects are lazier. They won’t reply to your follow-up emails. They never answer their phones. They indicated having interest in the next meeting, but they won’t commit to getting it on the calendar. How do you get them across the finish line if they won’t even take the next step?
The truth is that your clients and prospects aren’t lazy, even though it may seem that way sometimes. You simply haven’t given them a compelling enough reason to take that next step with you. You’re not a priority for them right now. They have work, family, and a ton of other obligations. For them to make you a priority, you have to give them a pretty solid reason to do so.
Ideally, you would identify each step in your process and build in calls-to-action that drive your prospects to take the next step. At the end of each meeting, call, or conversation, you should have an action that will require another meeting and an advancement of the relationship.
Of course, not everyone has that kind of discipline in their sales process. In fact, I’d say most of the sales people I’ve coached came to me without any kind of defined process or funnel in place. Rather, they try to get a meeting with a prospect and see where the relationship goes from there.
Without a plan in place, it’s easy for the relationship to stall or never get off the ground. The client doesn’t take action because they have no reason or urgency to do so. You search for ways to follow-up and revive the process, but struggle to do so. As a result, the process stalls and, eventually, you take the deal out of your pipeline.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can circle back around to those stalled deals and bring them back to life. You simply have to frame your value proposition in such a way that it incites action from the prospect. Here are five quick and effective ways to do just that:
Show them how they’re losing.
Your prospect isn’t taking action because they have no sense of urgency when it comes to your product or service. To you, it might be clear as day that they need your services. For whatever reason, they don’t see it.
Set aside some time and scout your prospect’s competitors. Maybe you can find evidence that their competitors are employing some of the same services and products that you’ve recommended. Then forward your findings to your prospect with a note that politely explains how they’re losing in that area.
For example, you might say….
Take a look at this link. Your competitor is employing some of the social media strategies that I’ve recommended and it looks like they’re getting good results from it. Let’s talk about how you can do the same.
Thought this might interest you. Your competitor was just named as a Top Place to Work For in the city, and benefits were one of the major reasons why. Want to schedule some time to talk about how you can enhance your benefits to attract top talent?
In Robert Cialdini’s epic sales book Influence, he names six ways you can get people to say yes to your proposed ideas, products, and services. One of the six is the principle of scarcity.
Quite simply, the scarcity principle is the idea that people want what they can’t have. If you’ve spent any time around children, you know this idea well. A child may not care about a toy at all. But as soon as another child starts playing with the toy and the toy is no longer available, the toy becomes the formerly indifferent child’s prized possession.
Guess what? Adults are just big children. Scarcity applies to us just as much as it does to kids. And you can use that idea to kickstart your prospects’ interest.
If you’ve ever planned a trip online, you know how scarcity works. The hotel booking page tells you that there are “Only 2 rooms left!” The plane booking site says that the flight is “Nearly full!” Your car rental service will tell you that there are “Limited available at this price!”
These are attempts to use scarcity on you as you plan your trip. Now, you may not be an industry where you can be that blatant, but you can still use scarcity as an effective tactic.
For example, you may send a quick note to a prospect and say…..
I’ll be in your city early next month and that’s likely my last trip for the year. Schedule is filling up fast, but I would like to find some time to sit down with you. Do you have some time available on 11/14 or 11/16?
We’ve talked in the past about how our services could increase your team’s efficiency and productivity. A lot of other companies are recognizing the power of our solution and as of now, I don’t have much bandwidth left for new clients. I can still get you on board this year if you’re interested. Do you have time to chat about it?
Give them a deadline.
Another powerful persuasion tool is scarcity’s cousin – urgency. It’s very possible that your prospect has sincere interest in your product or service. They may really want to work with you. There’s simply nothing driving them to take action right now.
You can nudge them along by giving them a reason to act quickly. Of course, you want to be careful with this. While a deadline may give them a reason to act, they may also perceive your deadline as artificial and it could even turn them off.
For that reason, I’d recommend that you only give them a deadline if there is a legitimate reason why the deadline is important. For example, there could be a change in pricing or there could a product change coming soon. There are a lots of reasons for giving a deadline, but resist the urge to make one up out of thin air.
Here are a few examples of ways you could set a deadline:
I enjoyed speaking with you about our proposal a few weeks ago. As we discussed, the rate on that proposal is only guaranteed for 60 days. That 60-day point is approaching soon. When are you available to chat about the proposal and talk about next steps?
With the end of the year approaching, we have many clients and prospects who are choosing to implement new services now to get the purchase price in this tax year. We still have time between now and the end of the year to get you on board and implement the new software. We need to act fast, though, if you want to be able to utilize this year’s budget. Let’s talk about it and get the ball rolling.
Give them free help.
You have to give to get. That applies to selling just as much as it does to anything else in life. If your prospect isn’t moving forward, it may be because he or she just doesn’t see the value in your knowledge and expertise. That may be a painful truth to admit, but you should at least consider it.
The good news is that you can quickly change their perception. Offer them some unsolicited and commitment-free help. Offer to connect them to a potential new customer for their business. Share a strategy that you’ve seen work for their competitors.
Very often, I hear salespeople complain that they don’t have a good reason to check-in with their prospect. Help them! An unsolicited offer of help is a good enough reason to make a phone call or send an email.
Here are a couple of examples….
I met someone at my most recent chamber luncheon who I thought could be a good prospect for you. I’d be happy to connect the two of you via email. Would you be interested in an introduction and then you can take it from there?
I saw that your competitor was using this strategy to capture leads on their website. Looks interesting to me and thought you might like to see it. How is everything? Let’s schedule a time to catch up soon.
Break up with them.
Okay, you may want to save this one as a last resort. However, if you’re considering taking them off your list and out of your pipeline, why not at least give them a heads up?
Here’s why you should send a break-up email – what if they did have interest in your product or service but just hadn’t taken action yet? What if you took them out of your pipeline, stopped following up, and never heard from them again?
Next time you’re going to take a non-responsive prospect out of your pipeline, try this instead. Send them a short note explaining that though you believe your service would be valuable to them, you also don’t want to waste their time with unnecessary follow-ups. Let them know that if you don’t hear from them, you’ll assume they’re no longer interested, and you’ll discontinue contact with them.
Some prospects simply lose track of how much time has passed. This kind of polite “break up” message can be exactly what they need to get their act together and move forward with the sale. If they are interested, they’ll likely respond. If you don’t hear from them, it’s probably better that you don’t spend anymore time on them anyway.
Do you feel like too many of your potential sales are stalling out? If so, let’s discuss it. I offer no-cost, no-commitment introductory coaching sessions. During the session, we can discuss your challenges and develop a strategy to overcome them. Schedule your session today.
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