You had a great first call. It led to a great first meeting, and you’ve written the best managed services proposal ever. You’re ready to present it, but when you call your prospect to arrange a time, they aren’t responding. Not the first, second, or even third time that you call. Nothing. Crickets. Politely worded emails aren’t getting you anywhere either.
In my experience, there are a few common things that might have happened when a hot lead goes cold:
1. There weren’t clearly defined next steps
Each interaction with a prospect should end with an agreement on what actions will be taken next and when they’ll happen. Try using something like this:
“Based on our meeting today, I’ll write a detailed proposal for you. It will include our monthly flat-rate managed services pricing for a three-year term, and there will be an initial project that I estimate will take 30 days from the acceptance of the agreement. I’ll have this quote ready for your review in two weeks. I would like to meet back here on [date] to review this with you, and I expect that meeting will take about an hour. I’ll also need a few 15-minute phone calls between now and then. Let’s calendar this right now so I can be sure to deliver an accurate proposal on the timeline I’ve committed to.”
This way, you’re getting several commitments before ending the meeting. By scheduling a date to present the opportunity, as well as several smaller touches (even if they aren’t really needed!), you can help the prospect stay engaged and informed throughout the quote development process. This is especially important if they’re getting multiple quotes because you want to stay top of mind while they’re speaking to other companies!
2. You left your prospect feeling confused or overwhelmed
Confusion leads to decision paralysis. What is second nature to you might sound like a foreign language to a prospect. Remember, your target market for managed services is not technical. They are running a business; you are going to run their IT department for them.
While your list of certifications might be impressive to your peers, they mean nothing to your prospect. And, the tools that you’re going to use to do the job aren’t as important as the outcomes you’re going to provide. Paint a picture for your prospect of what they can expect from you, your company, and the technology. Leave the tech talk for the trade show.
You want your prospect to part ways with you feeling smart and confident, not overwhelmed or undereducated. Try broaching it like this:
“I’d like to go step-by-step through the challenges we’ve identified with your network, and our thoughts on how we could help. I’m going to explain it to you the way I would explain it to my mom (haha). If you want to take a deeper dive at any point, please stop me right there, and we can take it up a notch. How does that sound to you?”
This allows for some relief on the part of the non-technical prospect and the opportunity for a prospect who enjoys or understands the technical details to get more involved if they’d like to. Make sure the proposal you provide them with is just as easily understood. Your prospect should be able to clearly define the features and benefits of your proposal to anyone who asks. Brevity goes a long way. Don’t send 50-page proposals. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
3. You already lost the business to a competitor
During the sales process, it is perfectly OK to ask a prospect if they’re going to talk to other companies. Do you understand your competitors’ offerings? Are you able to pitch against them? It’s important to be prepared for this.
When we’re pitching our services, I like to give my prospects the opportunity to talk to the companies that I truly consider my peers. This ensures they are actually comparing apples to apples—and not apples to a second-rate, budget firm that I know will fail them.
If your prospect speaks to someone who charges half what you do and also provides half what you do but your prospect still perceives it to be the same service, you will lose every time. If they’re talking to another company that is on par with both your pricing and offering, you win when you deserve to. You might as well try to keep them shopping for the same caliber of provider.
Another great benefit? The grass won’t seem greener when one your closest competitors calls them a year later. They’ve already made an informed decision that included deciding not to work with that firm. (Better yet, maybe that firm doesn’t even reach out to them again after they’ve lost the first bid!)
How to reconnect after lead goes cold
These suggestions should help fewer leads go cold. I know trying to re-engage with a prospect who has gone radio silent is frustrating. My favorite method to get someone back on the phone? Send them a little something! A coffee card and hand-written note should get you the closure you need. And hey, if someone doesn’t call or email to say thank you for a gift, are they really the type of client you want? Probably not.