Radio silence does not equal death

Radio silence — it’s what you hear when your prospects don’t return your calls or emails. You’ve had several conversations, forged a solid relationship, identified next steps and even scheduled a specific time to talk. And then? Nothing.

All is not lost.

We’re salespeople. We want it now or, better yet, yesterday. But our prospects rarely have the same sense of urgency. Even I, who work only from referral introductions, am the recipient of radio silence from time to time. By now, I should know better than to get upset and think the worst (they went with a competitor, decided not to move forward, had no budget, etc., and didn’t get back to me because they were uncomfortable sharing the bad news).

Take a deep breath. Step back from the ledge. Ninety-nine percent of the time, these aren’t the reasons. It’s far more typical that your prospects are busy — plain and simple. Sometimes they are on vacation, out sick, traveling or don’t have the requisite information to respond. When I do finally connect with such a prospect, there are usually many apologies.

Your expertise matters.

Yes, apologies. You see, a friend or colleague has always introduced us. We have a unique relationship because they were referred to me. They view me as an expert in referral sales, and they really do want to learn how to make referrals work within their organizations. They also want to show respect to the friends who introduced us. That’s the power of referral selling.

Don’t get hung up on radio silence. Check in, send something of interest to your prospect — maybe even a hand-written note. In several situations, I’ve sent an email with the subject line “Referrals on hold?” I write a very brief message and state that perhaps there are other priorities, but I’m available to help with referral selling anytime. I always receive an immediate reply, and it typically includes one of the reasons above as the cause of the delay. Then, we’re back on track, and if the project has been postponed, I now have a new timeline.

If all else fails, check back with your referral source. He usually knows what’s happening and can give you the inside scoop. And then you’ll then know what you need to know to adjust the volume.

Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of “No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com. © Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.

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