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September 22 2019.
Disappearing customers.

Recently, I came across a senior manager expressing frustration about one of his potential client not returning his calls. This prospect had said " We need your system, please send us a commercial quote along with reference case studies similar to our industry". Now after sending all the details & repeated attempts to contact, my Senior manager friend (& his Director) are wondering, what happened so dramatically, that the client is now not even answering our calls?

I am sure, all of us face this situation. You were convinced that they have a need & are interested in your offering, but now their behaviour is totally contradictory.

You start wondering what to do?

First let's see why do they behave in this way?
I have found in most of the cases the reasons are;

# Buyers request, is misread as burning desire to buy. Enthusiastic sales guys want to have "enquiry to order cycle time" to be in seconds! This causes misinterpretation, "Send me an offer", being concluded, as if the buyer will place an order next day he gets the offer.

# It's not that important now. This happens virtually overnight. Changes in your customers' customer exceptions, Challenging market situations, new "Boss" are the most common reasons, why the need now is not so urgent.

# I am an expert in this. Buyer many times feels he has all the information he needs & there is no need for further discussion.

# They are totally overwhelmed in day-today's work. Believe me, I am not making this up, this is the most common problem buyers are facing. In most of the organisations today, people have a lot of work to do & are getting less & less time. The customer wants to continue the discussions with you, but not right now !

# For reference & comparison. Many times customer just needs your offer for comparison, to justify to his boss/team to place order with your competitor.

Different situations need different actions.

Now what you should do?
To find out what's the reason for silence, here are some of the approaches you can explore & decide whether to invest any further on this prospect.

>Don't give up trying. You should recognise that the buyer expects you to take the initiative to be in touch. In B2B situations it's not uncommon to contact 5-6 times before you see any results.

>Provide value during each contact.
Don't just say, "Hi just calling you as agreed last time about the purchase decision. Call me if you have any further querry". Instead, you might say, "Hello, I know how important its for you to have this system, which helps our manufacturing to reduce production cost & cycle time". This indicates emphasis on potential loss caused due to the delay in the purchase decision.

>Try out different channels of communication.
Use phone calls with emails, letter, fax, invitations to the upcoming events, sending articles, case studies etc. Try to position yourself as an expert in this area.

>Identify multiple contact points.
Never have ony one one person to be your entry into the customer's organisation. Identify & develop multiple relationships within the buyer organisation.

>Plan for what's next?.
Always workout followup schedule & contents for the next meeting/call. If there is a reluctance, it indicates something's not right. You need to investigate further about the seriousness & urgency of the need.

>Be a human being (& not just a sales person).
After repeated contacts, leave a funny message such as, "I know you're extremely busy person, but I also know that shortening your production cycle is important to you. That's why I keep bothering you. Can I look forward to talking to you rather than your answering machine."

>Are you trying to contact too frequently?
If, after three contact attempts , you have not heard, contact less often. Once in 2 months could be more appropriate?

>Let them rest a while.
Send an email stating that you thought they were interested, but perhaps you misjudged the situation since you haven't heard back from them in the past few weeks. This often works to get a response & an explanation from the buyer who may be feeling guilty of not communicating.

By trying out different approaches, you should be able to get some indications on the status of the need.

If everything fails, its better to leave him in peace !

With experience of two decades, read "How we help our clients" to improve business.




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