You probably have a prospect right now that has stopped responding to your communications—a cricket. You had a productive meeting, they expressed an interest in your services, you even offered a proposal and then poof—they’ve disappeared. You’ve been “ghosted.”
The truth is, most people don’t like to tell you “no.” Instead, they go silent and avoid confrontation. It’s easier for them to create distance and hope that you give up. From their perspective, it’s less confrontational. But this silence doesn’t always mean that they don’t want to do business with you. Maybe your proposal was unclear. Maybe they have a life event holding them back. Regardless, your objective is to re-open the conversation and uncover their reality.
How Many Times Should You Follow Up with a Prospect?
We follow a “rule of three” when it comes to following up with prospects who have been silent. After all, this is high-level affluent sales. You aren’t trying to pressure anyone into doing business with you, and it’s important that you are viewed as a successful professional, not begging for business. After three follow-ups, we recommend one of the strategies below.
Strategy 1: Shoulder the Blame
With this message, you apologize to your prospect and request their insight. When you display vulnerability by assuming you’ve dropped the ball, your prospect often opens up and is forthright with the truth. Here’s an example:
“Hi Kathy, I just wanted to reach out and apologize. Since we haven’t been able to connect, I feel like maybe I’ve missed something along the way or I didn’t fully understand your needs. I’m assuming you’ve gone in another direction and that’s okay, but I’d value any feedback from you on what I can do better.”
Strategy 2: Take It Away
With this message, you let your prospect know the ball is in their court. This strategy incorporates a bit of reverse psychology by telling the prospect you aren’t going to track them down.
“Just a final message here to say that I know you’re busy and I really think we can help. But I’m going to leave the ball in your court to get back to us at your convenience. I wish you the best.”
Strategy 3: Time Is Money
The next message is a bit more brazen and should only be used with prospects who have a dominate personality style. Essentially, you are calling them out for dragging their feet.
“Hi Kathy, hope all is well. I don’t want to keep contacting you if this isn’t a priority right now. In my experience, I’ve noticed people have a tendency to procrastinate when it comes to their finances, and it can cost them financially. If this project makes it back to the top of your to-do list, please reach out to me directly.”
Keep in mind, you have to customize each script for the specific situation with each prospect. Also, when responding to the silent treatment, you need to select the mode of communication in which the prospect is most likely to respond. We typically recommend leaving a voicemail or sending an email.
For some, these strategies will prompt a response and give you more insight into their reality. For others that still aren’t responsive, this will be your last communication with them and provide closure in the sales process.
@StephenBoswell is President of The Oechsli Institute and author of Best Practices of Elite Advisors. @KevinANichols is the Chief Operating Officer for The Oechsli Institute and author of The Indispensable LinkedIn Sales Guide for Financial Advisors. Learn more at https://www.oechsli.com.