Consider this sales scenario: You conduct a great meeting with a prospect, engage in smart conversation and exchange ideas. Then the prospect:

  • Thanks you for the insights you provided.
  • Agrees that your solution meets her needs.
  • Engages in a preliminary discussion regarding pricing.
  • Asks you to prepare a proposal.
  • Goes so far as to discuss start dates for the project.

You leave the sales meeting excited and confident that you have a deal. The prospect gave you every buying signal you ever learned.

Sales success starts before the follow-up. You write the proposal, review it with your team, include detailed pricing and timelines and send off the proposal with a well-crafted email.

Silence. You call, you email—silence. You’re dumbfounded. What went wrong? What happened to the great relationship you thought you had? Why won’t your prospect return your messages? I don’t know, but you certainly need to.

Maybe she got busy, went on vacation, changed roles within the company or ran into barriers for approval and feels too embarrassed to talk to you. Maybe it’s none of these.

Naturally, you wonder if you could have done something differently. Could you have prevented this crushing sales scenario? Yes, and here’s how:

Everyone has a job (including your prospect). Never leave a meeting with a list of things for you to do and nothing for your prospect to do. Everyone needs an assignment. Without one, your prospect isn’t invested in the solution. Engage her in her success. You may ask her to provide materials for you to review, to conduct research or to survey her internal team. Whatever you decide, make sure your prospect has a task.

And, always, always, leave your meeting with another meeting scheduled. If your prospect is noncommittal, that is a huge red flag that you have been too quick to jump to a proposed solution.

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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.