You shoot an email to a prospect and you haven’t heard back. What do you do?
If you answered “move on”, you’re among the 70% of salespeople who give up after their first email goes unanswered:
Yet research shows that 80% of non-routine sales happen after at least 5 followups! So if you’re giving up very quickly, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
One of the biggest blocks to getting past an objection or no response include:
- fear of rejection
- fear of annoying a prospect
- not getting to the real objection
I want to show you how by both owning the value you bring to the table and properly presenting it, you can convert many more leads that you previously ‘left for dead’.
1. Reviving The Conversation After No Response
First off, make sure you’re tracking your emails to see if your prospects are opening them. If your prospect has not opened your previous emails at all, it’s time to change up your subject line.
Try a totally different approach such. Things like:
- asking a relevant question
- mentioning the name of a mutual contact you share
If your prospects have opened your emails (especially multiple times) but have not responded, it’s time to change gears and come at them from left field.
Try sending what I like to call the: Pick My Brain email. In it, you remind them of your expertise and experience in the field and reassure that even if they’re not ready to act now, they can still benefit from just picking your brain.
Here is how the Pick My Brain email is laid out:
(Part 1) Subject Line: My brain = an open book for you
(Part 2) I know you must be swamped with to do’s. However, you may still enjoy picking my brain for 10 minutes to find out:
- tools I use to unearth a prospect’s background details with just their email address/contact info
- how to semi-automate + scale the mass personalization of cold emails
- how to quickly find trigger news events (compelling reason for your prospect to make a change right now) for all your prospects’ companies
(Part 3) Schedule a 10-min brainstorm with me here (use a 1-click solution here)
- Acknowledge they must have been busy. Providing an excuse for your prospect frees them from feeling guilty if they haven’t responded yet. Therefore, they are more likely to do it this time.
- List 3 valuable insights that they can learn from you. Each of these 3 points should provide answers to burning questions and pain paints your prospect has.
- There are a few tools out there now (Mix Max, Calendly) that let you set time slots you’re available for - so your contact can instantly schedule a call with you. No back and forth emailing to set a good time.
Reposition the call into one where you focus solely on helping them. This works especially well if you dig through your prospect’s social media profile to find out some burning questions they have posed that relates to your area of expertise.
2. Creating a “Done For Them” Action Plan
The harsh reality is, every other salesperson is also providing a succinct bullet point list of all the benefits they offer. Which means this is often no longer enough to make a compelling case why a company should talk to you. So what do you do to up the ante? Show, not tell. What does this entail?
Put together an action plan for your prospect’s company that goes over what steps they can implement right now to address 3 big challenges they face that your product also happens to address. Show your prospect this plan in one of your first meetings after the discovery/match assessing step. This will put you head and shoulders above competitors who only talk about what they can do for a potential customer in the abstract.
Since your time and resources are limited, only take this step for prospects who would have a high lifetime value if they became your customer.
Steps to put together an effective action plan for your prospect:
Let’s say your product is a CRM. Ask yourself, what are the biggest goals you help your clients achieve?
- Never forget about a potential lead and existing customer
- See patterns in your prospecting and deals to continually optimize your sales process
- Have all your prospects and customers’ information at your fingertips
Now research your prospect to find their problems and pain points. Good sources are:
- Job Listings. A lot of companies describe problems they are trying to solve and new goals they want to achieve in job listings. They can be the corporate version of “What I want for Christmas” - so you can learn a lot about the company from it.
- Social media (including the personal social media accounts of employees at the executive level). A lot of employees ask questions and reveal interesting tidbits about their company (like what product features they’re most proud of) in their social media updates.
- News stories about the company. New stories about the company can reveal a lot about its inner workings, company culture, goals, struggles and a lot of other information you can use to refine your approach and pitch.
Once you have a good idea of the specific challenges your prospect’s company is facing, provide 3-5 action items they can implement to address them. For each item, use a heading and break down the major steps in bullet points.
Underneath those bullet points, if you have a related case study of how you helped another company to achieve something similar, include it. Describe it using the problem -> solution -> results framework.
For example, continuing with the CRM example, one of the action items could be:
How To Always Remember To Follow Up So Another Customer Doesn’t Slip Through Your Fingers
- install a tool for your email that automatically returns an email to the top of your inbox on a set date if the prospect doesn’t reply
- educate your sales team on the benefits of tracking their prospects in the CRM (can observe patterns from their own deals and the deals of colleagues to decide the next best move)
- plan out 2-3 responses ahead of time so when you have to follow up, you’re not too busy to come up with something right then and there - leading you to not doing it
Don’t make your outline deliberately vague out of fear they will just take your outline and try to do it themselves. Ideas are dime a dozen, 80% of results depend on the execution of the idea. If your prospective customer had the capability to execute something similar themselves, they would have already done it.
3. Use a Drip Sequence of Follow Up Emails
Even for seasoned pros who know it can take a few tries before they reach their prospect, many still give up too early. Why?
- You’re juggling multiple prospects at once so it can be very easy to forget about one if you don’t hear back from them.
- No matter how long you’ve been in the game, it can still feel discouraging to not hear back from someone so we would rather give up than face rejection again.
- People are afraid of annoying their prospects by sending too many follow up emails.
What's the most effective way to make sure you do actually follow up? Pre-write 3-4 followup emails for each prospecting campaign ahead of time. Either save them as drafts and manually send them out or use a tool that automatically drips these emails to your contact.
In each follow up email, use a different approach to give your prospect more points of interest to chew on.
For example: 1st follow up: 1-2 sentence description of what your company does and metrics demonstrating the results you achieved for a similar company
2nd follow up: Bullet point list of specific ways you can help them achieve results and/or resolve pain points
3rd follow up: the Pick My Brain email mentioned above
4th follow up: the so-called ‘Breakup’ email (see below)
Hey [Sales Prospect], Haven't heard back from you. Thank you for the opportunity. Can I put it on hold for now?
By asking your prospect for permission to end the project, it activates people’s loss aversion. This gives people who may have been sitting on the fence the urgency to finally make a decision.
4. How To Get Past An Objection Early In The Sales Process
Your primary goal early in the sales process is to get your prospect on the phone or if you live in the same city/town, meet them in person. This allows you to both qualify the prospect to see if you and their company are a good match and build a connection with them.
However, early on, when a prospect is unfamiliar with you, they are much more likely to default to doing nothing or throw excuses your way to delay or avoid the initial meeting. Most prospects are scared of being sold to and of being forced to do something they don’t want to. That’s why you have to reassure your prospect the first meeting is just a no-pressure brainstorm session to see if you can help them in any way.
If your prospect uses excuses to avoid or delay a discovery call or meeting, try the following response:
I understand you are [objection they raised such as they’re busy]. I have 3 quick questions just to see if there’s a fit/reason to talk further. Even if we don’t end up being a match, by discovering your goals, I can point you in the direction of a few valuable tools + resources. Are you open to that?
If your prospect uses a stalling tactic like “can you send me some information”, try this:
I could [their request] however I find [why the request won’t serve their interests such as: information files usually end up being forgotten in an inbox/drawer]. I find it works best just to have a 10-min brainstorm to see if there’s a fit/reason to talk further. Even if we don’t end up being a match, by discovering your goals, I can point you in the direction of a few valuable tools + resources. Are you open to that?
5. How To Deal With A Price Objection Without Resorting To Discounts
The finish line is so close you can see it and then bam, your prospect pops the price question: “Can you help me with the price?”
First off, say something along the effect of: “I completely understand that you want to get the best value for your budget.” Empathize with your prospect. Price is a concern for everyone, even customers who care about quality. Then ask this question to weed out customers who only care about the price:
Moving price out of the equation for one second, is my product and the competitor’s about the same for you?
If they answer yes, simply say,
Ok I completely understand. In this case [Competitor] may be a better match for your needs. We work hard to provide our users with [why you’re the premium solution for delivering X result] so we unfortunately can’t compete on price alone.
However, many customers will be so taken aback that you are letting them leave they will admit they do actually like your product more. Then you can return the negotiation to terms where you can be flexible on without degrading your product and brand: how to deliver them more value for the same price.
Here’s an example of how you can provide more value for them while keeping the price the same. Providing more value uses the same logic as: would you pay $5 for a bus fare? Value added: would you pay $5 for the fare to an express bus that only has a few stops along the way?
Hey Sales Prospect,
(1) I completely understand. You want to use something that provides the best value for you and your company. Let's see if we can find a creative way to make this work.
(2) What if we upgraded your account to include more credits and set you up with a personal account manager? She will walk you through the entire setup and be available Mon-Fri for any questions you may have.
To guarantee your savings of $X/hr for every employee who can now automate their manual research, will help the service pay for itself.
Let me know if you're open to discussing?
Breaking down the two step process above:
(1) Show you understand their concerns and repeat what they want in your own words to show you are listening.
(2) Offer to find a creative solution to make the price more palatable by increasing the value they receive.
Finding out if your customer actually likes your product or not is also a good way to test if their objections are real concerns or simply smokescreens to mask their real objection (they don’t like your product):
Moving [objection] out of the equation for one second, what are your thoughts on my product?
Why is it so important to see if they actually like your product or not? Because if they don’t or if they would require a long education process to see the value in your product, there’s no point in trying to force a sale. If you don’t try to uncover their feelings about your product as fast as possible, you will waste a lot of time chasing your own tail addressing their excuses and smokescreens, thinking they are real objections.
If they do end up admitting they don’t like your product, take it as a learning opportunity. Ask them if they would be willing to answer a few quick questions to get meaningful feedback. Frame it as you being committed to building a high quality product and appreciating any insight they may have to improve it.
If they admit they do like your product, then the resistance typically lies in an area you have more control over like price, adoption process and timelines. Here are some questions you can ask to see how you can provide the customer with more value instead:
- What level of one-on-one attention do they need to be successful with my product?
- What are their specific pain points and which features of my product solve that?
So that wraps it up!
What’s a common pattern of behavior you may have noticed in all these situations?
When you try to insert yourself into your prospects' already busy schedules, many of them default to either doing nothing or try to delay having to make a decision by making excuses. That’s why you have to use creative low-pressure ways to prove you’re worth their time and instill urgency for them to act.
Additionally, just as a chess player plans out their moves at least ten steps ahead of time, make sure you prepare ahead of time for different outcomes. That way, you don’t have to think too long about what to do next in that moment when prospect does X and Y. Leaving all the work to be done as the sales process unfolds means you may never come around to it - simply because you may get swamped during that time with other work.
Last and most importantly, always think about what value you can provide your prospect. There are a lot of ways you can help your prospect that means a lot for them but costs little on your end, such as offering extra support and offering slight upgrades.
Header Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
About the Author
Sapph Li is a B2B copywriter who runs prospecting + outreach campaigns. You can find her sales email templates at Art of Emails.More Content by Sapph Li