There are many reasons a prospect might go cold. Some of these are things that you can’t prevent or do much about. Perhaps they got too busy. If there was a shift in management in the company, or someone resigned unexpectedly, or maybe the lead has some family issues that need to be dealt with.
But there are some issues that you can nip in the bud before the prospect goes cold. Maybe they weren’t high enough to make the decision and couldn’t get the actual decision-makers go-ahead. Perhaps they don’t think they have a need for your product right now, or they don’t have the budget. These are objections that you can overcome. If you sense that your prospect may be going cold, it’s worth working hard to overcome them before that happens.
Do you know your customer’s buying process?
Do you know how long your average sales cycle is? I have worked in businesses where prospects could decide themselves within a few days. Other companies the buying process could take up to 2 years involving multiple departments and oversight. A lot depends on the price of your product. Some departments can spend up to x amount themselves. But over that needs approval from their finance department. Ask the prospect what their buying process is and how long it normally takes.
Tip: Many customers do not know what their companies buying process is and will need your help navigating this process.
Once you know how long their buying process is make sure you’re checking in with the prospect often. I don’t mean sending emails saying ‘just checking in.’ Sending relevant information, like articles, will keep you on their radar even if they aren’t making a buying decision right now. Match your content with the stage of the buyer journey the prospect is at.
Research from the Bridge Group analysed 434 successful B2B companies and found that the top-performing sales development reps followed up on average 12 times.
Find the need
If the prospect doesn’t think they have a need for your product, then you need to ensure you have product-market fit. If a prospect does not have the problem you are trying to solve then no amount of effort will change their mind.
However, if the prospect doesn’t understand their need enough to connect it to your product, then it’s up to you to find a better way to describe it. If the prospect tells you he’s not interested or not willing to take the next step, just ask him why. He will give you reasons that you can then overcome, showing him that he does, in fact, have a need.
Really there’s only so much you can do to prevent a prospect from going cold. There are a lot of things that you can’t control and sometimes a prospect will stop calling and stop emailing.
But there are some things you can do to reignite a cold prospect that you think is worth keeping at.
5 steps to jump-start a cold lead
1. Share product updates
Maybe you had a prospect that seemed interested in your product, but there was one thing he was looking for that you just couldn’t give him, so he went cold. Maybe it’s a few months later and your company has just brought in that one thing that he was looking for.
This is a perfect opportunity to get back in contact with that prospect. Sending a quick email saying that the last time you spoke you know he was looking for X feature. Well now you can happily offer him that feature. Would he be interested in a meeting to chat about it?
Perhaps your company has brought in a discount for new customers, and you know that a prospect went cold because their budget couldn’t stretch to your product. Letting them know that they could get this discount might push them to start a conversation again, and get them back into the sales funnel.
2. Be helpful
If your prospect is no longer showing interest, it’s important to still stay on their radar. Their situation may change in your favor in the future. The key to this is make sure you’re showing them your value. Instead of plying them with product information, delve into your marketing content and find articles that you think they will benefit from. Add them to a monthly newsletter email campaign. This ensures that they get a continual flow of content without being bombarded and annoyed.
If you were in contact with them for a while before they went quiet then you likely found out about their personal interests. Sending them something relevant would be useful. It can keep you at the front of their mind if they do decide they want to buy in the future.
3. Keep it simple and straightforward
You don’t want to come across as aggressive when you’re trying to reconnect with a prospect. However, if your efforts aren’t yet successful, then you need to be straightforward about what you’re looking for. Send a simple email reminding the prospect if they contacted you first, or how interested they were the last time you spoke, then simply ask then if they’re interested. Say something like ‘I assume that you’re not able to connect right now. If this is the case, please let me know and I will close you’re file, or if not, are you available for a quick meeting?’
Sometimes you need to just show your cards and get straight to the point. It may give the prospect the push they need to get back to you and get the sales process started again. If this doesn’t happen then you need to look at this last tip.
4. Nudge them online
Online advertising can be used in a very targeted way. Add your sales prospects and any other stakeholders at the company to an advertising campaign. This means you are gently reminding and nudging your prospect as they browse the web and LinkedIn. It can be great for brand awareness and make your company appear bigger and more active then it might be.
5. Know when to walk away
If your efforts to reconnect just aren’t working then maybe it’s time to walk away. There’s no point in losing precious time on a prospect who is never going to buy when you could be spending that time on ones who will. Sometimes you just have to accept that a prospect has gone cold and move on.
In fact, part of your sales process should be to get to ‘No’ as soon as possible.
The quicker you can discover if the prospect is a viable sales candidate the faster you can move on to a lead who is. Or perhaps you are talking to the wrong person in the right company.
You can’t always reignite a cold prospect, but it’s worth trying, especially if it was a prospect that you were sure was going to buy. At worst you might be able to find out why the prospect went dark and be able to prevent it happening in the future. At best you’ll get them back in the sales funnel and hopefully make the sale. So what are you waiting for?