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Prospect and Sale Vanishing Acts

I was talking with one of our salesmen this morning and he was perplexed as to why a prospect whom he believed was going to be a buyer suddenly fell off the map and wasn't returning calls or email. Prospect and sale vanishing acts like this are all too common I believe and should be an interesting topic for conversation.

What say you... have you personally experienced a prospect or a sale vanish before your eyes? - by AZBroker
Sure, we all have.

In my line of work, it's a one call close. Period.

I do not comprehend "I have to think about it", "Send me some info", "I have to talk with my partner/wife", etc....

Early on in my sales career I fell for that and experienced the prospect vanishing act. I think it's been discussed on these very forums that statistically 99% of sales with send me info etc... are not closed and result in the prospect vanishing act. I can testify to that being true.

I do my work the same with everyone... to me it's just another name and a number regardless if they are the chair of a public co. or a mom and pop shop.

I'm always professional and not nasty with my prospects by any means but there is a point of my presentation where the lion comes out of the cage.

I make a living by closing sales not making friends.

When I'm on the money, I close more than half of the people I speak with. Of those, half of them are lay downs. On avg., I close 35-40% of my sales.

It's so systematic and what I do all day long... After the first no; Benefit, Drop, Close... till I close the deal or get hung up on. Either way, I move on.

It's not for every industry or agreed upon by some people but for what I do, it brings home the bacon.

Anyhow... yes, I've experienced the "vanishing act" in the past ;bg - by bluenote
It's always perplexing how people can just suddenly drop off the radar.
Usually, they pop up later as having bought from a competitor.

Susan - by susana
It's always perplexing how people can just suddenly drop off the radar.
Usually, they pop up later as having bought from a competitor.

Susan
What can you do to prevent this? :dun - by Seth
What can you do to prevent this? :dun
Not give a rat's ***, be aggressive and close the deal. - by bluenote
Everyone, of course, experiences the vanishing prospect and, on occasion, the vanishing "buyer."

You'll never eliminate them, but there are things you can do to diminish them.

First, understand that a small portion of them were never prospects to begin with--they were just pumping you for information. This "prospect" can appear for a number of reasons: a competitor shopping you; someone thinking about getting into your business fishing for for information; someone who is unhappy about a purchase trying to "research" other people in the industry to see if he really got taken or if there is some way to they can get the other salesperson or company to make good; have already made up their mind about whom they're buying from and are simply looking for conformation about one or more questions they still have and want a "third party" conformation of what the other salesperson had told them; and any number of other reasons. Often these people are relatively easy to spot--they tend to present themselves as just the average guy off the street who knows nothing about your industry and then asks too many highly specific questions that the typical buyer wouldn't ask.

Secondly, there are people who are very, very early in their purchasing process who are also at this point simply seeking information. They may be thinking about buying a home, a new car or some other product many months in the future and don't want to reveal that for fear you won't be willing to spend the time answering their questions--and they don't want someone haunting them for months. So, they get the information and then simply refuse to acknowledge you again afterwards.

These two groups will be around forever and you'll have your share of them. About the only thing you can do is learn to get good at spotting them--and then make a decision as to whether or not you want to waste time with them (i.e., those in the second group that would be long-term prospects and who you believe will try to avoid you).

The third group are prospects who either decided you weren't the salesperson for them; didn't like some of your responses; got diverted by another salesperson; ligitmately changed their mind about purchasing; or who didn't like your follow-up.

The third group is where you can salvage sales. Some of those folks who decided not to purchase, will change their minds again and may be embarrased to re-contact you because of the time delay involved; some diverted by another salesperson will eventually decide that that salesperson isn't right for them for any number of reasons; and even some who didn't like your responses or didn't feel that you were the right salesperson may come back after interviewing other salespeople.

In order to recapture some of the people you must have installed a follow-up system that 1) maintains open contact with the prospect on a consistent basis (but doesn't overwhelm them with the number of contacts); 2) delivers something of value with every contact (not just a "ready to buy yet" contact); and welcomes them to contact you for any reason--even if just to confirm the purchase they finally decide on is appropriate for them.

You can't eliminate the disappearing act, but if you can spot why they disappeared and continue to court those where you may have a legit opportunity to recapture them, you'll get some sales out it. But if you continue to try to follow-up with those who are just pumping you for information, are shopping their competition, etc., you'll drive yourself crazy. You have to learn to spot who's a real prospect and who isn't. - by pmccord
But if you continue to try to follow-up with those who are just pumping you for information, are shopping their competition, etc., you'll drive yourself crazy. You have to learn to spot who's a real prospect and who isn't.
Thank you for the very helpful advice. I'm saving this post to my favorites. thmbp2; - by Seth
In order to recapture some of the people you must have installed a follow-up system that 1) maintains open contact with the prospect on a consistent basis (but doesn't overwhelm them with the number of contacts); 2) delivers something of value with every contact (not just a "ready to buy yet" contact); and welcomes them to contact you for any reason--even if just to confirm the purchase they finally decide on is appropriate for them.
Excellent response and advice Paul. thmbp2; - by AZBroker
Not give a rat's ***, be aggressive and close the deal.
Bit harsh aint it? I understand about not letting it get to you and moving on, but the agressive bit? - by Julian
Bit harsh aint it? I understand about not letting it get to you and moving on, but the agressive bit?
As said best by Jim Rohn: Casualness leads to casualties.

Of course this would depend on what type of sale you are accomplishing. Obviously this tactic is not for real estate sales, among many others. - by bluenote
I believe that when prospects vanish, they haven't made enough commitment yet, therefore they should still be in your automated lead nurturing system. If they quit, well, tough tities. We shouldn't even notice that they've vanished.

I think the problem starts when salespeople start investing personal time too soon. I believe first prospects should demonstrate commitment to deserve out in-person time to discuss possibilities.

Thoughts? - by Bald Dog
Yesterday, a woman came in, and looked at a Mustang. We got her to about 354 a month with zero down, including a 7 year 100k mile warranty. She left "to each lunch and think about it". She called back, apparently insurance was too high (she was wanting to put her 14 year old son on the insurance). I called today to thank her for coming in and looking at our inventory, and to offer to help her out with whatever she needed in her search for a new vehicle...she bought a Dodge Charger last night, and decided to keep her son off the insurance. I keep hearing the adage "Buyers are liars" reverberating in my head, and decided to go 'old school' - you come on my lot, and you're going to buy something.

About an hour later, around lunchtime, an elderly couple came up on the lot. I walked 'em around my lot, and took them to another lot - all in all, they spent 4 hours in the heat looking at vehicles (being I was especially irritated at the earlier call, and this couple's extreme choosiness -> chevy silverado, 2 wheel drive, low miles, never been smoked in, under 20,000 dollars).

They tried the whole "We'll need to discuss it", which got the response "What's there to discuss? You're not going to get a better deal anywhere else, sign here." Which brought up "We want our son in law to look at it, we'll be back tomorrow night" - a ha, learned my lesson last time... "Here, you take my truck, and I'll keep your truck". They're in the truck as I type this, albeit they're about 200 miles away, I did guarantee that they WILL be back tomorrow, and, having had a decent night's rest, I'll be ready to walk them around the lot for another four hours tomorrow if that's what it takes to get them to buy.

Wear 'em out and wear 'em down, sooner or later, they'll be too damned tired to turn you down. Not exactly the way I WANT to do business, but I guess the only way to make sales is to fight fire with fire. - by Bardicer
Bardicer,

If this approach works for you, then keep on keeping on.

When I was hired by BMW a few years ago, we eliminated random drop-ins on salespeople.

Potential buyers had to fax in a document to prove that they have the financial means to buy a vehicle, and only after that they were allowed to book an appointment about a month ahead.

Interestingly the quality of clients went up quite a bit. And financially it was more profitable for letting the salespeople pay cards than wasting their time on tyre-kickers.

In their spare times, salespeople wrote cards to current clients, made lots of "How is your new car doing" type phone calls or provided ongoing assistance with whatever clients needed help with. This alone increased referrals clients.

Yes, we sold fewer cars, but these cars were sold at full sticker price. There were no deals.

But This may not be possible to pull off in Ford or GM dealerships. It's hard to qualify people this hard to buy scrap metal.

But this is just a different approach. - by Bald Dog
When I was hired by BMW a few years ago, we eliminated random drop-ins on salespeople.

BD,

What did you do when people 'dropped in'? Did you give them a sheet telling them your procedures--how to book an appoitnment, etc?

With a high end vehicle, you can create exclusivity. I spend a lot of time on this subject in my Selling to Millionaires program.

I'm not sure if it would work with Ford, though.

Bardicer,

In upfront qualifying, did you ask who else would be driving the vehicle? That may have pointed you to a different car choice for her.

Susn - by susana
If only that worked for us. The location is a big issue I believe. The second big issue is that the only advertising we do is in the newspaper..for Saturday...

Most of the people I get have credit scores of under 550 - and I recently found out that anything under 700 is considered 'bad'. :/ - by Bardicer
What did you do when people 'dropped in'? Did you give them a sheet telling them your procedures--how to book an appoitnment, etc?
They could come in an see the receptionist for assistance or for an information package. That package explained them in great detail how the dealership operated. It was basically a semi-automated touch point. it worked.

It explained how they can qualify for the appointment - prove the ability to buy

Post-purchase - Mechanical orientation on the new car. One of the mechanics walked the client through the car and and introduced it to the new owner mechanically speaking. Explained tyre pressure, etc.

What we realised was that what counts is not what we sell but how we sell it. Saturn is another example of the "How you sell is more important than what you sell" mantra.

I think one problem is that sales folks in general are keen on getting involved as soon as possible. They want to do everything manually.

My idea for sales folks towards prospects is that "You step, I step." You show commitment, I invest my time in you.

In a way a sort of High Probability Selling. - by Bald Dog
My idea for sales folks towards prospects is that "You step, I step." You show commitment, I invest my time in you.

In a way a sort of High Probability Selling.


I would agree. Too many sales people are so eager that they don't properly qualify. Setting the buying criteria up front is essential, and can alleviate some of these problems that occur down the road.

Susan - by susana
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