We’re all guilty of it. I’m a big preacher against it, but sometimes even I have to remind myself not to do it. What am I talking about? I’m talking about “just touching base” or “just checking in.”
We’ve all had opportunities that get stuck in the pipeline. We thought we did everything right – we dug for business pain and how it was affecting the prospect’s ability to execute their job effectively, we built the business case, and then put a proposal against that business case that solved the challenge that prospect was facing. We thought it was a done deal and that signed contract would be in our inbox any day. But it hasn’t come through and even worse, your prospect hasn’t responded to your calls and emails for a few weeks, if not longer. And you’re not helping your chances when you lead with “just touching base.” It annoys the hell out of them. They’ve got a lot of people vying for their time and competing for their business, and only the folks that bring real value every step of the way are going to earn it. Here are a few things you can do to stop the awkward silence and get that contract through the door:
Reiterate the Business Case
If you’ve built a strong value proposition and the deal is looking like it’s stuck and quiet on the other end, reiterate why you and the prospect got to this stage in the first place and why your solution will solve their challenges. There’s a lot of value in saying, “Jim, when we first got together you mentioned that driving qualified leads into the pipeline was your biggest challenge. You’ve worked with organizations that drove ‘leads’ for you, but they rarely met your defined criteria of what a qualified lead should be, and thus you were wasting your time on contacts that either weren’t the right fit or they weren’t close to a buying cycle. You told me this was killing your pipeline and that your sales team was becoming frustrated. We came up with a solution that would get you in front of ‘sales ready’ leads and increase your pipeline value 5 X. I wanted to make sure that solving this challenge and increasing pipeline value is still important to you, and that you’re ready to do something about it by moving forward with our solution.” How much better is that than “Just checking in?” Another road to take would be to state the risk they’re facing by not doing something.
Find an Article/Case Study, etc. that will Resonate
I always tell our sales folks to do their homework and study the industry. Be on the lookout for articles, case studies, research reports, etc., that they can use as ammo to accelerate opportunities through the pipeline more effectively. Instead of “just touching base,” taking an approach of “Sarah, I came across this article and thought you would find it interesting. I believe it speaks to the challenges you are currently faced with and best practices for solving them. I hope you find it valuable” brings a lot more value. It shows your prospect that you’re thinking about them and doing your homework. They respect that so much more
Provide a Piece of Content/Invite Them to an Event
As a provider of webinar-based marketing solutions, I believe that webinars are a great tool to accelerate opportunities through the pipeline more effectively. Webinars are no longer just a tool to educate your audience and drive more qualified leads. They’re a fantastic weapon to help you close business. When it makes sense, we often use on-demand webinars as tools to get a prospect moving. Or if we have an upcoming webinar, take The Seven Costly Sins of Lead Generation for instance, that’s going to cover a lot of issues that one of our key prospects is faced with, we’ll send them a personal invitation. “Dave, we have a webinar coming up next week where we’ll cover a lot of the ideas that you and I have brainstormed together over the last few months. Here’s a link to register…I hope you can make it.” Value, value, value.
I know it sounds simple, but not enough sales reps do it. If you can do your due diligence and provide value during every stage of the funnel, you’re going to break that awkward prospect silence and get more signed contracts in your inbox.
If you’re compelled, please share your feedback below. Talk soon!
Jason Stegent is the Founder & President of Elastic Solutions. Email him @ firstname.lastname@example.org