Do you recognize this situation? You meet with a potential new client and have a great discussion. They are honest and open about their challenges; you present thoughtful and well-received ideas for possible solutions. They request a proposal and follow up. You deliver the proposal on time and begin to follow up with energy and excitement.
Then … silence. There’s no response to your voicemail messages or emails. Doubt starts to creep in. Did you really misinterpret that first meeting? Was there something terribly wrong with your proposal? You begin to feel foolish and likely even start to believe that this lack of response means “no”.
What can you do to reconnect with this prospect? What language will most often result in a response?
When we are in these situations, we often use language that focuses on ourselves and our intent … to get the business. For example:
“… following up to hear your thoughts on my proposal and to organize the next steps.”
While there’s nothing wrong with this approach – it often works perfectly – if things have changed for the prospect since our first meeting, they may be unable to respond. Why?
Well, maybe they haven’t had an opportunity to review our proposal, so they have no thoughts to share. This can happen for a wide range of reasons, anything from a change in corporate priorities to a personal crisis that needs their full attention.
And maybe “next steps” are the last thing our prospect is able to consider at the moment. They have no information to give us, so they don’t reply.
While, of course, we always create proposals with the intent of getting new business, we want to put this intent aside when we follow up. We want to focus, as we did in that first meeting, on the prospect and their needs. When we do this, we can usually get an answer … and have the opportunity to continue to build the relationship.
Try this simple email request instead:
This note is to make sure I don’t “drop the thread” of our recent discussions. Shall we organize a time for a phone conversation? Let me know what works best in terms of your current priorities.
Now the follow up is about them, not us. It clearly illustrates our respect for their time and our interest in them, in what they want to accomplish. And the request for “current priorities” is something they can answer, even if they haven’t read our proposal.
I have a 100% response rate when I send this message. Sometimes we organize specific date and time that works for a conversation, sometimes they share with me the details of what they are currently focused on and organize a future follow-up date.
Whatever their response, we continue to build relationship and trust … and that’s what follow up is all about!
Give it a try. Let me know what happens.