Help! I Sent Them an Email, but They Won’t Get Back to Me
By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment
Editor’s note: Beth Standlee gives readers helpful advice in this month’s column by sharing this passage from her new book, People Buy From People. Back when email was shiny and new, recipients almost eagerly read and responded to messages. Today, not so much. That inattention speaks to the larger issue of how to best communicate with potential customers today. Beth shares some helpful tips:
Guess what? I don’t think relying on email alone is best way to manage the sales process. Let me tell you about Linda. I adore Linda. She’s worked for our company for many years. She’s an amazing sales person with a proven track record. She moves quickly. She shows up and is very good at developing relationships.
However, like a lot of sales people today, Linda relies too much on virtual communications. She’s often told me, “I sent them an email to schedule an appointment to discuss their next event, but they won’t get back to me!” How can this be a surprise? Since the dawn of time, buyers haven’t gotten back to sellers.
Before we go any further, I have to put my foot down about communication. After all, the title of the book is People Buy From People! Of course, I know that people buy from Amazon, and online, and from catalogs, and with one click. However, online sales methods were built by people and for people, who had to learn to trust the virtual buying experience. People still talk to people when they’re unsure of the process, when they have questions or when things go wrong.
Email, Facebook Messenger, text messages, and even snail mail are different ways to push out information to a potential buyer. Think about that word push. Why would a sophisticated buyer want to deal with a pushy sales person? Maybe you think I don’t understand the soft-sell nature of an indirect tap on the shoulder through email. I assure you, I do. I use email, Facebook Messenger, and even text messages sometimes, but a long-lasting relationship can’t be developed with one-way communication.
Here’s the truth: if you’re looking for a “one and done” sale, then you might be able to rely on email to bring in a one-time transaction. But that kind of buyer seeks out the lowest bidder (translation: lowest commission), and you can’t expect any loyalty from them. In High Profit Prospecting, Mark Hunter calls relying on mass email communication as the “spray and pray” method of prospecting. If that’s what you want, great, but if you want to build real relationships that last a long time and result in great value for the buyer and larger profits for you, then keep reading.
They Won’t Get Back to Me
The challenge for Linda — and all of us — is that we misinterpret why prospects don’t get back to us. Our “made up” list is long and there’s no way to know what’s true. Since both email and voicemail are one-way forms of communication, you can’t actually know if the buyer received your message, so any conclusion you form about why they didn’t return your call or answer your email is simply a guess. Here are some common assumptions:
• They must not be interested
• They probably selected a competitor
• They think my product or service is too expensive
• It’s not a priority for them right now
• I screwed up the presentation
• And my all-time favorite — They must not like me
The truth is that it’s not the buyer’s job to get back to you. It’s your job to connect with the buyer.
So, how many times should you try to reach a prospect? It depends. How important is it for you to help them? What’s the account worth to you and your company?
Here’s what I know: Prospects don’t get back to us because we aren’t high enough on their list of priorities — yet. That’s why it’s so important to respond to an inbound call immediately. Never delay. Jill Konrath in Snap Selling writes about “crazy busy buyers.” She makes the astute observation that prospects are easily distracted, and the important initiative today will no longer be relevant tomorrow.
I encourage you to be very open about the reasons why the client seems to be ignoring you. Don’t make up stories about why they aren’t getting back to you. If the buyer is an ideal client and you want to do business with them, then keep trying to connect. And don’t count solely on email, voice mail, or any other type of one-way communication to do the job for you. Instead, find someone who knows the person and ask them to make an introduction. LinkedIn is particularly helpful in this type of situation. Short of stalking the prospect, try to go to a networking event so you can meet this buyer in the flesh. Real communication is the foundation of a real relationship.
“Real” communication in today’s world is a premium. The sales pro who’s willing to show up is going to win. Make a decision today to not rely on “virtual” communication to do the heavy lifting when it comes to sales.
Beth is the CEO of TrainerTainment LLC, a training company devoted to the family entertainment and hospitality industries. Beth and her team are focused on helping the companies they serve make more money through sales, guest service, leadership and social media marketing training. Training products and services are delivered in person, through books and DVDs, and virtually with e-learning courses, webinar development and 24/7 online access. Visit her company’s website at www.trainertainment.com.