Sales Prospecting: What to do When the Trail Runs Cold

A stove burner control knob serves as an analogy for increased results when sales prospecting.

Sometimes in the world of sales prospecting, it happens that leads which were once promising and held the hope of customer conversion, can grow cold as ice and appear to be dead in the water. This can be very frustrating for a salesperson, and for management as well, given the fact that the cost of customer acquisition is constantly rising, and the cost of acquiring new sales leads is just as expensive.

That being the case, it makes great business sense to pursue every lead to the utmost and to make every effort at converting that lead into a purchasing customer. Before you abandon a lead gone cold and write it off as ‘one that got away’, there are some steps you can take in an attempt to revive that cold lead.

The following recommendations have worked for many sales personnel in the past, and if you put some legitimate effort into trying to make these work for you, you may find that your own sales conversion numbers begin to rise.

Try the Nine-Word Email

Tactics associated with direct marketing have been around for a long time, and while many businesses have abandoned them in favor of digital marketing techniques, there are certain situations where the classic direct marketing email can produce surprising results when renewing sales prospecting with a cold lead.

Try composing a succinct, nine-word email to your cold lead prospect which just might kickstart communications between you again. The beauty of this approach is that it’s very brief, and certain to cause no sales resistance on the part of your reader. On the other hand, it can still go right to the heart of what the prospect’s original need or desire was. Something very effective along these lines could be as simple as this query – “Are you still thinking about buying a new widget?”

Tailor Your Messages to the Prospect

In order to tailor your contact messages to a prospect, you’ll need to put in some research time, so that you have a good idea of what the needs and desires of the individual might be. This is a good way to show your prospect that you’ve done your homework and that you’re interested in supplying a solution to whatever their problem might have been. Restart communications with your prospect by developing engaging talk points that he/she will find interesting and relevant.

Maintain Honesty and Professionalism When Sales Prospecting

One thing you should definitely avoid is any hint of dishonesty or any lack of professionalism in dealing with your prospect, because more times than not, that will result in a cold lead going sub-zero on you. Instead, don’t let desperation lead you into areas that may damage your reputation or that of your company, simply for the sake of making a sale.

You’re much better off trying to engage the customer by eliciting some kind of emotion from them, perhaps through skillful storytelling or through anecdotes which may have relevance to their own lives. This kind of tactic can lead to your prospect reciprocating with some kind of storytelling of their own, and once you have established a sharing kind of atmosphere between you., anything is possible. With this kind of relationship, it may be a little easier for you to promote your product or service as one which will solve the problem the prospect has.

A salesman achieves a successful rapport during sales prospecting.

When sales prospecting, it is often necessary to omit the topic of sales and shift the conversation toward developing a personal rapport with the prospect.

Make use of Other Communication Channels

If your primary means of contact with a prospect has been via phone calls, you might want to change it up, and just send them a brief email. The email might even have nothing to do with sales language or about problem resolution for your prospect, but might be just a pleasant, cheery greeting.

This will let them know that you’re thinking about them and that you haven’t just dropped the ball and forgotten that they had some kind of business need in the first place. Whatever communication channel you use to re-engage with your prospect, try using a very soft pitch approach, and make it customer-centric, rather than anything relating to yourself.

Be as Helpful as Possible When Sales Prospecting

If the primary reason that your prospect has gone cold relates to the fact that he/she was not interested in making a purchase during your last contact, it will be advisable for you to avoid any mention of sales when re-engaging. If the prospect’s last words to you indicated that they weren’t interested, you would only be incurring further resentment from them by hitting on the same topic.

Instead, take an entirely different approach, and just make yourself as helpful as possible to your prospect, without specifically referring to products, needs, or sales. By making yourself available and offering whatever help you can, you will be building up goodwill if nothing else, and keeping the lines of communication open.

As long as it doesn’t cause any problems with them, try sending periodic tips and helpful tools to their mailbox, to show that you’re interested in their well-being. If you can successfully establish the perspective that you are a helpful resource, there’s a fair chance that they might contact you when they have some reason for purchasing a product you offer. Build up your credibility and rapport first with the prospect, and re-engagement might then be on the horizon. With these tips in mind, you should experience greater success when sales prospecting.

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