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When Even Your Friends Go Silent

As a salesperson, have you ever had a stretch where every client and every prospect you try to contact is unavailable?  A time when no one responds to your voice mails, your emails, your texts, not even your friends**?

I certainly have and I hate the feeling.  Many hotel, DMO and meetings industry colleagues have shared their story... Ms. Big-Wig has a tentative contract for a large meeting and she stops communicating.  Your boss is breathing down your neck to get the deal signed.  You've left countless messages.  You really don't want to tick her off (this could mean quota) so what can you do?

1.    Make it about them:  Your prospect could be going through a nightmarish period in their life (think catastrophic situation with their child or parent), could be out of the country on vacation, or could be having mobile connectivity issues.  All three situations happened to some of my clients recently, and their silence wasn't about me.  Don't take offence.  Make it about them in all your inquiries.  "Are you OK?" is a simple subject line that often works!

2.    Expect that it's temporary: There's no room for melodrama here.  If your prospects aren't getting back to you, it's no time to wallow in your sorrow.  Look at your approach, shake it off, but most importantly stay positive and know in your heart that it's only a matter of time.  Research by psychologist Dr. MartinSeligman shows that optimistic people, those who expect negative situations to be only temporary, do better in sales.

3.    Vary your touch points:  According to, leaving a voice mail and immediately following up with an email  boosts response rates.  If phone and email don't do the trick, and the response is urgently required, try getting a cell number and sending a text too.  A drastic measure perhaps (so make sure you don't "cry wolf" and overuse).  The point is, the more diversified your contact points, the more your prospect has a chance to understand and react to the urgency.

4.    Get creative:  A few months ago Jeremy Tyrrell of the Scotiabank Convention Centre shared with me how he got Ms. Big-Wig to finally sign his contract by sending her a video.  His phone messages and emails hadn't done the trick, so he posted a plea on YouTube and got other people to tell her about it!  Gutsy? You bet.  But what did he have to lose?  And now this meeting planner will never forget the extent to which he was willing to go to land her business!  (Click here to view a modified version of the video).

5.    Use humour: One our most challenging projects was the MPI Foundation Canada's Economic Impact Study of the meetings industry.  As the data gathering partner, we had to convince at least 650 meeting planners to take this long online survey and reveal detailed financial information about their events.  The email with the highest open and click through rates had the picture of a cute little girl in pig tails, with a quivering bottom lip; the subject line said, "OK, now we're begging." 

6.    Have lots of leads in your funnel:  Most sales experts will tell you the best way to remove the stress around closing business is to have lots of opportunities in the works.  This way you CAN walk away from that prospect who doesn't respect your time and effort by not responding.  (Read more about Greenfield's Lead Generation Resources here ).

**Yes, just recently, an old friend "went silent" on me.  I was really torn up about it.  
I had contacted her on a business matter.  When I followed up, I got nothing. I followed up again.  Repeatedly.  With a friendly approach, a business approach, a humorous "you-can-tell-me-NO-I'm-a-big-girl" approach, and even a pitiful "what-have-I-done-to-upset-you?" approach.  As it turns out, I should have applied rule #1; she was going through stuff, and she didn’t think I could be so insecure… J