Picking up where we left off, you have an outstanding proposal and no definitive answer – what do you do? There isn’t one typical way to handle this scenario, but I have successfully used several methods.
- The “I’m scheduling my next couple months” approach.
- The “temporary no.”
- “Can I consider this proposal closed?”
The “I’m scheduling my next couple months” approach.
This technique is what it sounds like and is usually true. You need to know how to plan your schedule, and if there is potential work out there that you could book any minute, your timetable will change. I like this because it is a courtesy to the client and your business. You are saying, “I want to serve you well, and to do that, I need to know if I should plan my time around your project or not.” Often all a prospect needs to give a yes or no is a bit of social pressure that impacts everyone involved.
The “temporary no.”
This method isn’t nearly as definitive, but that might be to your advantage. Often a project isn’t dead, but circumstances are in flux with your Prospect and their company. It can be best to move on, but if you want to keep the potential alive, look for a yes or no based on a timeframe. You will often get hints that there is an unknown variable for your potential client. “It sounds like a lot is going on right now at your business; if you are still interested in this project when things settle, I will reach out in [timeframe], does that sound good to you?”
This can be a double-edged sword, some will use it as a chance to put off their eventual no, but if you are convinced they are a good fit and on the edge of a decision, you can set some parameters to pursue them further. It also shows flexibility and empathy.
The best outcome here, though, is getting a no back. If they say no, then you can direct your energy elsewhere. You never want to drag a prospect into working with you, they won’t be convinced of your value, and it will be be difficult to truly succeed.
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“Can I consider this proposal closed?”
This technique is what it sounds like, reach out and ask a direct question. After a time, replace your pleasantries with a straightforward, but polite, ask. Often a potential client is just waiting for permission to say yes or no. Either answer is good because it means you can move forward, either getting to work or focusing on new prospects.
Other quick tips:
Don’t just ask for a meeting; suggest and book a time.
I see this one a lot and have been guilty of it too. If you want to meet with someone, make it as easy as possible for them to schedule it. Suggest one or two times and ask them to say yes or no to those times. Offering a one-click link to book a Zoom or phone call is even better. By keeping it straightforward, your likelihood of actually meeting skyrockets.
Become a mirror, but don’t lose your integrity.
You can mirror your Prospect’s tone and general attitude. If they are more serious, you want to discover that quickly and not bring your silly side out. If they are worried about the economy, you can express your concern appropriately; if they are optimistic, you can share what you are excited about. But don’t lose your integrity! This isn’t about lying or making things up. It is simply about setting your client at ease.
Sometimes a lead will go silent, even after sounding interested, but you can use some simple techniques to confidently capture a yes, no, or maybe one day.