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What to Do When Prospects Go Dark

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We’ve all been there. You’re talking with prospects. Maybe once, maybe more often. They have a problem you think you can help solve. You are ready to help. Unfortunately, you can’t get them on the phone. They don’t respond to emails. Your prospect has gone dark. What now?

The Simple Answer

The first thought that comes to mind is they aren’t interested. They might not have money or don’t want to part with it. It’s human nature to avoid confrontation. Their simple approach makes sense to them. If they don’t respond to your messages, you will take the hint. It happens in dating all the time.

FYI: In many Hallmark movies, the rejected suitor still persists, professes their undying love and wins the person over. This rarely happens in sales.

Related: How to Respond to 12 Common Client Objections

7 Approaches

Your first thought might be to say: “That was a waste of time,” tear up the lead and move on. Because this scenario happens often, you must work with many prospects at the same time. The short-order cook is a great analogy. If you have one big prospect and they don’t come through, you often have no business that month. You want to avoid that second scenario.

  1. Multiple channels. The channel where you first reached them might not be the ideal one. There are plenty, including phone, email, social media and text. You can think of several others.Your strategy: Try reaching out using two or three different ones. See which (if any) gets a response. Although letters are considered “old school,” they have staying power. They can be put aside and revisited later, when the timing is right.
  1.  Change the message. You continue to keep in touch, perhaps by email. You are sharing educational information from time to time. Your name is in front of them. They are learning new things. It isn’t costing them. Assuming they are eventually responsive, you can revisit business again.Your strategy: Change the focus to educational content. You likely have a newsletter. Give them the option to opt out.
  1. Give them some space. Something more important came up. You don’t know that. This has gone onto the back burner while they deal with the problem at hand. They are still interested, just not right now. You know none of this for sure.Your strategy: Wait a bit. Get back in touch in one, two or three months. See if they are more responsive then. They might graciously explain an urgent matter came up, thanking you for your understanding.
  1. Call when they will likely be getting money. You might know or could assume their annual bonus will appear in January.Your strategy: You call near or that time. The money will need a home, unless they have already spent it.
  1. Let them back out graciously. You either reach them in person or send a message, like an email. Perhaps it’s a note on your nice firm stationary. Give them the opportunity to say “I went in another direction.”Your strategy: You are being respectful, thanking them for their time. You mention the timing might not have been right. They might have gone in that other direction. They may feel, because you have been so gracious, that you deserve an answer.
  1. Recontact when it’s calm. What’s going on now? The pandemic. Election season. The holidays will soon be here. People are closing out their year, just like you are doing now. Lots of stuff gets put off until later.Your strategy: Try getting in touch between Christmas and the new year. It’s often a slow time. People start to think about next year.
  1. Invite them to attend an event. They might not want to buy, but they still want to learn. The ideal topic is something they need to learn about, yet would need to spend money to get that information otherwise.Your strategy: Invite them to a seminar or online event. You are offering something of value. They are reconnecting in return.

We lose lots of prospects. There are ways we can keep them alive. Some might regain their interest on their own timetable.

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Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” can be found on Amazon.


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