With the current state of the economy -- thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic -- many of the salespeople I talk to out there are noticing more prospects going dark. You might have emailed a prospect multiple times, or called their office, only to receive nothing in return.
However, while this scenario is certainly becoming more prevalent in these uncertain times, it’s in no way a new phenomenon. Prospects can ghost you for a multitude of reasons, and none of them may have anything to do with the coronavirus. It can actually be a flaw in your follow-up technique. Here are 4 mistakes to avoid when following up with a b2b prospect:
1. You Sent an Email Instead of Calling
Email is a pretty weak medium if your goal is to get a timely response from a prospect. This is why you shouldn’t lead with it when it comes time to follow up. Think about the current state of your inbox. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on there being dozens of unread emails in your inbox that you’ve simply chosen to ignore and let pile up. Now, why would you expect your prospect to treat their emails any different?
If you want to ensure you hear back from a prospect, you should call them. This isn’t as effective as speaking face-to-face, but as we’re all social distancing, it might be difficult to do so. Regardless, calling a prospect on the phone is still a much more effective strategy than sending an impersonal email that can easily be disregarded. If you want to get creative, and if the prospect doesn’t answer your call, you can combine the two mediums by leaving a voicemail and immediately sending an email saying you’ll try to reach them again in the near future.
2. You Let Your Prospects Neglect You
So you’ve sent an email or left a voicemail, now you wait two weeks to follow up again in an effort to not come off as a pest. However, what you’re really doing is allowing your prospect to neglect you.
By giving your prospect space and time to respond, you’re giving a competitor the perfect opportunity to steal their attention. Instead, you should be persistent without being pushy. If a prospect cancels a meeting -- which they’re totally entitled to do, especially now -- then you should follow up and get a commitment for a future date that works better for them. The goal is to let your prospect know you’re still in the wings waiting to pitch your solution so you can help fulfil a need.
3. Your Message Lacks Value
If your only purpose for calling or emailing a prospect is to simply check-in with them, then you’re bound to fail. Your prospect needs to see the value in your message whenever you follow up. Why should they hear you out? This question needs to be answered with something meaningful.
One of the main reasons a B2B salesperson should have for a follow-up is to get things back on track. You should let the prospect know your goal is to get a concrete date scheduled to go over your ideas and come up with a solution to one (or several) of their pain points. Avoid statements like “I just wanted to see how you’re doing” or “I’m trying to see if you were still interested in our product/service”. Statements like these come off as weak and scream “I’m desperate to sell something to you”.
4. You Aren’t Compelling the Prospect to Act
We just talked about how important it is to have a reason for your follow-up. However, the follow-up needs to end with a call to action. Simply asking the prospect to respond at their leisure -- which is something they’re already neglecting to do -- is not good enough.
Instead, you should tell them exactly what you want them to do next. This can even involve handing over the attention to someone else within the prospect’s company or you could simply request a status update. Whatever you do, don’t leave the decision to respond up to the prospect. Give them a clear direction for next steps.