Reestablishing Contact with Lost Sales Prospects

We invest so much time and energy on an opportunity with a prospect, and if it doesn’t work out — *poof* — we make like a ghost and disappear. Big mistake.

Too often salespeople don’t look back on the prospects who’ve slipped through their fingers (clearly these people aren’t usingSpiro) and, to be honest, this makes no sense to me. Why would you pass up a perfectly good opportunity to make money?

Here are some of the main excuses I hear for why sales guys don’t want to look back:

Their Ego’s Been Bruised

It’s hard to stare rejection in the face. Even though it’s not personal, it often feels like it is. Just suck it up and get back into the game, remember that you invested a lot of time in this prospect already, they know you, and it’s best to stay on their mind in case they need you in the future or things don’t work out with the other guy.

They Might Get Rejected Again

The odds of being rejected twice are pretty high, but, guess what, they’re always high in the sales business. You might not have been a good fit for the buyer’s need at the time, but both you and company’s evolve. The company might have changed to your benefit or visa versa.

They’re “Just Too Busy”

You’re never too busy if you’re really serious about making more money. That doesn’t make any sense.

When Should You Try to Reestablish a Relationship with an Old Client?

So much is about timing in this aspect. You need to be there at the right time. We have a lot of Spiro users at Paychex, for example. Here’s how they have to think about selling their product to a buyer: it’s not often that a company will be thinking about changing their payroll provider — at most once a year or so. They need to be there when the company is thinking about it, otherwise the opportunity will come and go. Always be aware of certain important dates and indicators affecting the client when you choose to follow up.

Stay on Their Mind

I believe in engaging prospects with content, so I’m not shy about emailing them something relevant, just to keep on their mind. I’ll let them know about any new content that we have here on the Spiro blog and anything in general that I think would be valuable to them. There are a lot of tools that can help you with finding relevant content. You can then use programs like MailChimp to automate your emails.

Have a drip campaign — send an email a month — then on the fourth one, call them up and say you’d like to schedule a phone call or meeting. You’ll be on their mind from all the other emails. It’s important to send the emails consistently and over a regular length of time. The technique is simple, but rarely used correctly.

The 75 Percent Rule

I have a rule of thumb about how frequently I get back in touch: whatever the length of contract I was selling I want to be back in front of a lost deal within about 75 percent of that time.

For example, if we’re selling a year’s worth of payroll services and lost the deal, I’d want to be back in front of buyer within 9 months. You know that the subscription you’re selling will expire and you want to be in front of them before the next round comes and goes. If you’re there just when the contract expires in 12 months, you probably already lost it.

It’s worth it to try again with a lost prospect; you never know what might have changed over time, whether it’s with you or with them. People develop new skills and needs change — always be ready to jump on the opportunity!

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