As a follow-up to my article regarding responsiveness, I was talking with Ari Galper, author of Unlock the Sales Game and expert on trust-based selling, about that dreaded moment in the sales process – when you are dropped into the “silent zone”.
The “silent zone” is when you’ve worked with a prospect over a period of time, built a relationship over-the-phone or in-person, they expressed serious interest in your solution, then all of a sudden stop returning your calls.
If you are like me, you obsess about what you did wrong and wonder what to do next.
Ari shares four useful tips to consider when you run into this situation:
1. The Truth Will Set You Free
When a client suddenly disappears, you blame yourself. Your self-talk is negative and you’re on pins and needles, wondering whether the sale will come through.
When you stop focusing on the sale and instead seek to understand your customer’s truth, you’re reassuring your prospect that you’re okay with either a “yes” or “no.” You’re essentially asking, “What’s the truth?” Rather than, “What can I do to rescue the sale?”
The next time you’re wondering if you’ve lost the sale, stop and recognize you may have fallen into the trap of focusing solely on the sale. Re-focus on the truth instead.
This mind shift is liberating.
2. Inviting the Truth Gets the Truth
The main reason prospects suddenly vanish is that they don’t want to disappoint you, or they don’t want to feel sales pressure from you – keeping you at bay feels better.
Can you really blame them? How often have they been called and called, chased by salespeople who hope to wear them down?
Or how often has your own boss said, “Call them back and get the sale. Why is it taking so long?” Your boss blames you, and you begin to question your selling ability. Now you have to put pressure on your prospect. The problem is that this approach only makes things worse.
The more you press, the more they run.
The opposite is true. The more you relax and simply invite the truth, the more straightforward your prospect will be. Prospects are okay sharing what’s really going on when they know you are okay hearing it.
The only way to discover the truth is to communicate in a way that helps the other person feel comfortable telling you the truth. Prospects will trust you and reveal what they’re thinking only if they feel you’re on their side.
3. A “No” is a Good Thing
If you can shift your mindset away from trying to make the sale, then you can get to the reality of where the deal stands. A “no” is as valuable as a “yes.”
A “no” frees up your time to find prospects that are a more likely fit for your solution and helps you weed out prospects you were chasing that you thought were good.
Understanding the truth lets you walk away from a deal without that guilty internal voice that says, “You gave up, don’t be a wimp. Get back in there and keep selling.”
4. Pressure Always Pushes Away
When a prospect fails to get back in touch, you send emails and leave messages with a thinly veiled invitation to move the sales process forward. Your prospect starts to feel trapped.
Your prospect thinks you’re looking out for your own needs, not theirs and any trust you’ve developed starts to dissolve, fast. You slip into a downward spiral that takes you farther and farther away from your true goal, which is to discover the truth of where your prospect stands.
It’s far more important to back off of the sale and keep the relationship open. Move to a position of educator, confidante and supporter – educate and inform your prospect with content that helps them do their job better.
You must let go of your sales-oriented goal.
You can’t simply keep pursuing until you make a sale happen, that’s old traditional sales thinking, and it’s wrong. It hurts your process. The new sales mindset breaks that old paradigm and requires you build an avenue for honest communication.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.