If you are as old as I am, you remember that commercial below.
Being patient as a child wasn't easy...
Now that I am an adult, it didn’t get any easier. As a salesman, it gets quite impossible EVEN THOUGH IT IS CRUCIAL TO OUR SUCCESS.
Waiting on that big deal at the end of a crucial month/quarter is exactly why a career in sales is not for everyone. The anticipation of that big deal is the reason why some of us don’t sleep at night, and quite honesty, it is what gives us the dreaded “Commission Breath”
Commission breath is the affliction that makes us do the things that a normally sane person wouldn't. It turns us into stalkers at the end of the month. It makes us send unproductive emails that seem desperate. It tells our prospects that we really need the deal, and it gives away the very bargaining chip that we may need in order to keep price integrity.
So what are the best strategies for avoiding this, or more likely, minimizing this?
Having an upfront discussion with a prospect about the timeline for the process you are about to engage in is the very best way to start. It helps you set the expectations where they need to be.
At the beginning of the relationship, and throughout the whole sales process, you should state and get confirmation on the next steps. You should also reiterate where you hope these conversations are leading.
Be be sure to be specific about timeframes and outcomes. Also be sure to get agreement on these items, as well as providing an “escape hatch” where he client can email you saying they wish to get off the ride. Below is an example of a typical conversation.
”David, I think his meeting was productive. The next step is a meeting with your executive council next week. You mentioned that you would be able to make a decision by the 25th of the month. Is this still accurate?”
”Yes it is, Mike”
”David, just so you know, I will be calling you in the 26th for final approval. If at any time, you think this isn’t going to happen, please let me know. Ultimately, I am a salesman, and I am not good at hints. All I ask is that you be honest and let me know if this isn’t working. Again, I’m a salesman, and I don’t get hurt feelings. Deal?”
I always like to fall back on the “I’m a salesman, and I don’t take this personal” line. That’s why I’m here. If the prospect doesn’t say no to me, then I will still keep calling. Let them know this.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU GET “GHOSTED”?
Even after coming to an agreement on the timeline and the process, you may get derailed. Typically, you are going to get "Ghosted" by someone.
Ghosting: When a prospect disappears on you...stops returning you calls or emails.
Ghosting is the most infuriating thing that happens to a salesperson, and it often comes after you think you are in the best position to make a sale.
After being ghosted, some salespeople resort to obviously pathetic emails or desperate phone messages. We have all done this. An extreme example of this type of voicemail is played out in this VERY UNCOMFORTABLE famous scene from the movie Swingers. I still twitch when watching this.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD?
Instead of acting like a crazed lunatic, try writing a funny, pointed email. This email has worked close to 90% of the time...in part because of it's self deprecation, honesty, and it takes the desperation out of the contact. (feel free to use this, modify it, or throw it away). IF YOU GET NO RESPONSE from this message, you should follow up in 3-6 months...this deal is gone.
I have called you a couple of times, and I honestly don't want to be one of "those salespeople". Typically, when someone doesn't call me back, it is due to one of three reasons.
1. You haven't mad a decision yet, and therefore have no news to provide me. IF THIS IS THE CASE, please let me know. I will take your lead on this, and maybe I can provide you with a way to help you decide...or at least I can give you breathing room.
2. You made a decision to work with another company or solution. IF THIS IS THE CASE, I get it. We aren't the perfect product for everyone...and while we are good, nobody bats a thousand, not even Miguel Cabrera.
3. A large desk has fallen on top of you, trapping you in your office, and you have no way to call for help. IF THIS IS THE CASE, Please shoot back an email to me with the subject header "3". I will rush to your office, and help you escape...then we can get to business.
All joking aside, we really would like to do business with you, so please let me know what we can do.
In the end, the anticipation of a large deal is a killer. Sometimes it occupies way too much of your time and effort.
The best advice is to make sure you have a deep enough pipeline, so you can backfill some deals at the end of the month. This way, you don't have to rely on one deal
Don't be a crazy loon like Mike, Nikki will never EVER call him back.