I recently received a strong referral from a hotel partner that has done business with us and experienced great results through our partnership. He introduced me to the hotel ownership via email, and I immediately responded to the referred owner with a request for an appointment and a few compelling points and results we’ve delivered recently.
I thought to myself…”well, this should be a sure thing to get a response and a call set-up!”
Crickets… No big deal. I gave it a few more days, as I had reminders for myself to follow-up if I had not heard back.
More crickets… Well this is weird. I know hotel owners are entrepreneurs like me, and they are incredibly busy with a million irons in the fire. I’m sure something came up that required attention. However, I am certain from the intro and what my current client shared that we can be of service and truly help this business!
I left a voicemail and followed-up with an email sharing a few more compelling points and testimonials.
Still nothing? Now, I’m starting to get concerned. Why wouldn’t they at least want to connect? I have something that will truly fix a problem. But you know what… it’s probably not the most immediate problem staring them in the face, and by the time the chaos has ended the last thing they want to do is talk to yet another “vendor.”
You see, I use this example to prove a point. Even referrals and direct inquiries go dark.
Let me give you an even better example. I receive vendor calls daily. I even reach out to vendors pretty frequently for various needs of our business. One in particular is a vendor that will really help our business. In fact, I spoke with them in September and we made a plan to launch their product into our business by mid-October. Well it is nearly mid-December, and that hasn’t happened. The sales rep has called and emailed me numerous times. I haven’t returned the calls or emails yet. Another large priority came up, and I know that late December is my new target to reach out and get the ball rolling.
The point is, we don’t know what is going on in the world of our prospects. We don’t know why they’ve stopped communicating. We can guess, and make assumptions all day long, and I’ve seen a lot of sales people work themselves into a frenzy coming up with theories about what is happening. Even sales leaders somehow get amnesia, and think their sales reps should be able to prevent this from happening.
A Sales Truth is: your prospects will stop communicating. They will have other priorities creep up. We need to stop pretending that it won’t happen. The key for winning in this business environment is to have a PROCESS and a PLAN for when it inevitably does happen.
Here are my key call-outs to ensure that you are prepared for this, and you can make it to the other side successfully with your client feeling great about doing business with you.
- Never stop prospecting, researching, and marketing efforts! This ensures there are always business in all stages of the buying process within your sales pipeline. This is the very reason why sales teams must have a robust and healthy sales pipeline at all times!
- Always over-estimate the amount of time and touch-points it will take to close a piece of business. Statistically we see that it takes an average of 7 from the time a piece of business is discovered.
- Understand the decision process the prospect uses. Who else is involved, their internal approval process, and the best way to communicate with all involved.
- Be unique, and be authentic. Following up just to “check-in” won’t grab the attention of a busy executive. I’m not saying to be gimmicky or cheesy. Think through the pain points you discussed with the client and provide compelling information in your follow-up communication.
- Create a plan WITH the client. Here are a few scripted questions you can use that work well when it comes to planning further communication with the client:
“What is your ideal timeline to contract with your chosen hotel partner?”
“I know things can get really busy and often-times other priorities can at times make their way to the top of the list. So, if for some reason we lose communication over the next few weeks/months…what is the best way for me to reconnect with you while still respecting your other priorities and time?
- Once the plan of communication is identified, build out those reminders in your calendar or Sales CRM and follow-through! You may be amazed at how many sales are lost just because the sales person didn’t follow-through with the plan, and didn’t stick with communication long enough.
- Put your best foot forward at all times and always stay above board in communication. Always come from energy to serve the prospects in your sales pipeline. What is best for them? How can you help them overcome a challenge or frustration? If you come from an energy of what you can get from them…it will translate to the prospect and will detract business.
I will end where I began with point #1. When prospects are quiet, let this be a reminder and fuel to continue prospecting efforts. The more quality you have in the sales pipeline, the less worry and frustration will grow when you are in the middle of the chase. Make building your sales pipeline a consistent process!