In the high-stakes world of sales, one of the most frustrating and disheartening obstacles you may encounter is the phenomenon of “ghosting.”
This term, often used in the context of personal relationships, refers to a situation where a customer suddenly ceases communication and becomes unresponsive after the initial engagement.
In some “polite” cases, they will entertain you, but there will be no progress.
Has this happened to you?
Today, let’s navigate three typical situations where a potential deal might go cold and arm you with strategies to ensure it doesn’t happen.
Let’s get started…
Situation #1: Silence After Sending a Proposal
You’ve put in late nights fine-tuning a proposal.
You hit ‘send’, expecting a prompt response.
Instead, silence greets you.
It is important to understand that good customer engagement skills are not a substitute for poor selling skills.
Don’t rush into a building and submit a proposal.
Always ensure a modicum of reciprocity with your customer.
If there is no reciprocity, then there is a possibility that your proposal will end up in what we call the “column fodder”.
Engage in a conversation about their next steps, such as scheduling a follow-up meeting to discuss the proposal, or setting a specific deadline for a response.
Ask them – What specific actions will be taken on their end if you send a proposal?
What criteria would they apply to evaluate it?
How would they choose between competing submissions?
This approach not only helps to create a sense of mutual commitment but also reduces the likelihood of your proposal being used merely for comparison purposes with other vendors.
Situation #2: The Disappearing Act After a Demo or POC
You’ve given it your all during the POC.
The client seemed very interested, their last words were, “We’ll be in touch,” and that callback hasn’t come yet.
Before doing a proof of concept, it’s key to gain clarity on the following:
What specific outcomes is your customer expecting from your PoC?
How will those outcomes show up on their measurable business results?
Who are the key stakeholders and what are their criteria for success and decision-making?
Always remember: Never make a deal needlessly more expensive by investing in PoCs, whose criteria for evaluation are unknown.
Fully understand all the key elements of the customer’s evaluation criteria before you jump in and commit to a POC.
Situation #3: Multiple Engagements, Zero Forward Movement
At times, sales takes up a lot of time and resources – office visits, international client meetings, and fancy dinners.
You go through different scenarios and gain the confidence of the customer, you also see them giving you their best attention.
Despite these positive interactions, progress grinds to a halt once everyone returns home.
I tell salespeople that they should build what I call a customer scenario prioritization sheet, where you list out all the scenarios that are most important for the customer and get them prioritized by the customer.
Think deeply and fill that sheet with all the business outcomes that are important to your customer and how your offerings will make that possible.
You must be able to connect the dots between your efforts, their experiences, and their outcomes.
The ‘cost of change’ has to be lesser than the ‘cost of the same’, only then the customer will proactively engage with you.
- You should never make a deal needlessly more expensive, in terms of time, energy, money, and scope.
- Good customer engagement skills are never a substitute for poor selling skills.
- Never do something for nothing.
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