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The Sound of Silence

29th Apr 2014

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I always get very nervous when potential buyers “go quiet” and all the proclamations of travelling, training or terminal illnesses in an attempt to justify the silence only serve to heighten my cynicism. I am not a pessimistic person I just prefer to err on the side of caution and it would be entirely remiss of me to ignore the past experiences of my professional career.

In every sales pipeline there are dead certs and outside runners. Many factors can influence how likely it is that a sale will be successful, client engagement is certainly a big one. It makes no difference how long a sales cycle is, some of our best clients have a very extracted buying process but there is total transparency at every stage.

To me there is only one reason why clients don’t provide a response - they just don’t want it enough. They might risk losing out by their lack of action but that’s ok for them. If you choose not to decide you have still made a choice

As sales people, in order to minimise disappointment and make sure our pipelines are more abundant with the deals that have a high chance of converting we need to apply some basic logic to the analysis of our pipelines.

Of course the opportunity was fully qualified at the start of the process but can we all say with confidence that we continue to qualify the opportunity throughout the process?

Business landscapes change and if they have not needed to invest the money for the last 6 months do they really need to invest it at all?

Equally, buying clients may not be keen to burn bridges until the are absolutely sure that their number one choice is entirely secure, that process in itself can take time.

If a strong enough level of client engagement hasn't been achieved, if the client feels that they might have been let down at some stage of the process perhaps they feel no obligation to revert.

In all these instances we have to spot the red flag, deal with it quickly and move on. In the cases where it is necessary, be courteous and let your prospect know. We spend too much time chasing the outside runners when we should be backing more dead certs. 

If the message is delivered correctly then I believe honesty is always the best policy and could lead to better engagement in the future. Everyone likes to know what exactly they are dealing with. Which brings neatly to my final comment aimed, this time at my prospective buyers. I am not afraid of being told no. I can deal with anything... as long as I know what it is.