Sales tip: How to resuscitate a sales conversation that has flatlined


Flatlining heart monitorVery few things in sales are more frustrating than working on a deal for weeks or months and then, before you get a decision, the prospect goes into radio silence. Phone calls aren’t picked up, and  voice mails and emails all go unanswered.

I generally respond to all communications on the day that I receive them. But I know not everyone is like that, and some people only communicate when they have something new to say. I’ve had prospects call me after months of silence to say that we’ve won, and that the only reason they didn’t call earlier is because there had not anything new to say.

So you could just adopt the philosophy that I’ve developed over 25 years of selling, “No news is no news.” But sometimes you need to know if you’re still in contention (like, your boss wants the pipeline updated). And ideally you’d like to know if there are any particular objections that the prospect has so that you can address them.

It’s at times like these that I use what I call my “I don’t want to be a bother” email. It’s a short email with a subject like “last outreach to you” that goes something like:

“Hi, I don’t want to be a bother, so if I don’t hear back from you I won’t try to contact you again.

“We remain really excited about the possibility of working with you. And we think we can add real value with XYZ. [Maybe three sentences in this paragraph; keep it short!]

“I hope to hear from you.”

About half of the time this produces a response. (And sometimes an apology, to which I respond with a “no need to apologize” note.) Sometimes it’s only to let me know they chose another company, but often it’s to let me know that things have been slowed down, we’re still in contention, these are the issues that they’re working through on their end, etc. And now I have something to work on.

And if I don’t hear back from this, then it’s very likely that the opportunity is, in fact, dead.

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