Waiting on leads to call you back can be one of the most nerve wracking aspects of sales, especially if you find yourself stuck waiting on a return call from someone you thought was about to buy … and it never seems to come. If it seems like you can never get leads to return your calls, here’s what you do:
Master the art of voicemail.
It’s a bit of an odd skill to have, but the better you are at voicemail, the more likely customers are to return your calls. The key is to renew the rapport you built up in the call, remind them that you’re there if they need anything more before making a decision, and gently steer them towards calling you back … all in about 40 seconds!
It sounds hard when you say it like that, but unless you specifically know that a customer prefers long, detailed messages, keep your voicemail messages short and to the point — long and rambly messages are annoying, and usually get deleted halfway through. Remember, you’re not trying to close the sale with this message, you just want to remind them that you’re there and to keep the conversation between the two of you going.
But before you ever pick up the phone…
Think about who you’re calling and their representational systems. How do they prefer to communicate? Are they going to want the detail you’ll be able to give in an email, or the more personal feeling of a voicemail? Or maybe they don’t like either one, and want the convenience of a text message! You could alienate the customer if you get this wrong, so take the time to think it through.
Bring out the big guns
If you’ve emailed, left voicemails, texted, and still can’t get anyone to respond back to you, it’s important not to just let the conversation fizzle into nothing — try to bring things to a decision, one way or another.
One method you can use for doing this is the “under a heavy stone” email or voicemail (modified from Paul Lanigan). In it, you remind the person who you are and that you’ve been trying to get in touch, and then give them a few reasons why they might be not getting back to you.
Some of your reasons could be “I misread the situation when I thought you were interested” or “You’re not interested anymore but you feel awkward telling me”. Then you end with the option of “You really do want to hire me, but you’re stuck under a heavy stone and can’t get to the phone/computer.”
The whole point is to add some humour to the situation and to get an honest response from a customer … and hopefully to eventually close the sale!
Believe me, this is a very effective way of melting away any reluctance on their part to get back in touch. Responses vary from “We’re still very much interested but got sidetracked by other projects … let’s get it back on track” to “Really sorry we didn’t get back to you before, but actually we’re not going to go ahead right at this time” etc etc. At least you get a proper response and depending on the circumstances can agree to get back in touch a few months later to check how things are.
Until next time,