In theory, the concept of sales is quite simple. You search for prospects who might be interested in your product, present the product to them in the most favorable light, answer all of their questions, then follow-up with them until they either buy from you or tell you they’re not interested. Simple, right?
In practice, however, this process has a lot of variables. And one of the most challenging ones for sales reps is the promising lead that goes dark — that is, a prospect who is qualified and who you’ve spoken to that, for whatever reason, stops responding. When this happens, it can be confusing, demoralizing, and make reps feel like they’ve wasted their time.
But rather than give up on what might be a closed deal, reps should strive to use every tool in their toolbox to get a prospect to respond. Being thorough and sticking with it is what separates top sales reps from everybody else, so make sure you’re not cutting your losses too early, and throwing in the towel while you still have a fighting chance.
So the next time a lead goes dark on you, try doing one (or all) of these five things:
1. Try a different contact method
When it comes to communication, we tend to stick to what is (or was) working. This means that if you’re used to communicating with a prospect via email, that you’ll probably use that same method to get back in touch with them, or to try to get a response. Your best bet when a prospect goes dark, however, is to use every contact method at your disposal, as long as it’s appropriate (showing up at a person’s house unannounced would not be okay). So if you’re used to email, try a phone call, or a direct LinkedIn message. And don’t fret about being overly intrusive. As long as your message is professional, then you shouldn’t have an issue reaching out.
2. Send them relevant information
Sending a message saying that you’re “just checking in,” or “circling back,” is a difficult way to get a response. Instead, try sending something relevant which will serve to help your prospect, teach them something new, or inform them of something that they may find interesting. This can take many forms, and will depend on your industry, but news articles that might pertain to their job or industry can be effective ways to show that you’re paying attention and thinking about them, especially if you find something they might not have otherwise seen. You can, of course, send them a guide or some other white-paper from your company, but be mindful that marketing material won’t be as effective as unbiased or objective sources when it comes to getting a response, which, in this case, is your main goal.
3. Send a video
While some sales reps might be too shy to get in front of the camera, sending a video is an excellent way to differentiate yourself and to make a more personal connection with your prospects. Video platforms like Vidyard can make filming and sending a video clip incredibly easy, and many reps have had great success with this approach. The key is to make the video short, relevant, and friendly. You’re not trying to guilt the prospect into responding to your video message. Instead, you’re trying to make it easy and pleasurable for them to get back in touch. So try to be friendly, upbeat, and take the pressure off. And don’t be too shy to get in front of the camera; it might mean a bigger commission check.
4. Create a triggering event
One of the reasons why prospects don’t respond to follow up messages is there’s often no reason to. Maybe they’re interested in your product but not in a great hurry. Or maybe they’re somewhat interested but aren’t fully convinced of its value. This is why creating a triggering event can be so effective at getting a response. You can tell them the price is going up after a certain date, or that the price is temporarily lowered until a certain date. Or perhaps you’ll include certain features at no charge if they sign within a certain time period. Whatever it is, putting a clear timeline with negative or positive consequences attached can be highly effective at getting somebody off the fence. Just make sure you present it professionally. You don’t want it to sound like a TV informercial pitch.
5. Send a break-up email
Ok, so you’ve tried everything but the prospect is still not responding. What now? Your last chance at getting a response is the “break-up” email. This is when you tell the prospect that you’ll essentially be moving on and won’t be reaching out again. If done correctly, this type of email can have decent response rates, and can actually revive the deal. Just don’t count on it, because the chances of not getting any response are higher than the chances of getting one. Good break up emails are concise, non-confrontational (“I’m still here to help”), and might even include a direct message from your sales manager or even the CEO, which can show that you value the prospect’s business. Be clear and friendly, and let them know that you’d love to work with them even if they’re not ready at this time. And if you can add a triggering event to your final email, then you increase the odds of getting a response. Just make sure that if you say you won’t contact them again that you stick to it. After all, in sales, your word is your most important asset.
Finally, a sales process that gives you the freedom to sell.
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