As sales people, we all get that feeling sometimes that our prospects are intentionally trying to avoid us. Hopefully, you’ve grown thick skin by now and don’t take their neglect too personally. But just because you know it’s part of the gig doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a moment to self-assess each time a twinge of suspicion arises.
In many “cold shoulder” cases, your prospect is simply too busy to talk. And frankly — you’re probably at the bottom of a respectably long to-do list. But sometimes, you’re actually giving them a reason to avoid you.
Instead of continuing to practice behaviors that chill your customer/brand relationships, warm them up with a little self awareness. Here are the most common reasons why your prospects may be avoiding you.
You’re being creepy
Social media is one of the most valuable sales tools for modern reps. Social platforms can help you research your prospect's company and discover their pain points and challenges. But you must understand which information to use upfront and which is off limits.
Inbound sales training has taught you to research and learn as much about your prospects as possible. But unless you have a long-standing relationship with the individual, and are 100-percent confident that a little personal talk is OK, keep your conversation focused on their needs as they relate to the product or service you’re selling — not on their recent family vacation photos.
A good rule of thumb to follow here is to reciprocate their level of comfort. If they feel like softening a sales talk with banter about travel or their Boston Terrier named Pixie — great. Let them guide the conversation into personal territory.
You don't know enough
You can know seemingly too much about your prospect...but you can also know too little. The last thing your prospect wants to do is sit on the phone and explain details about themselves that you should already know. An even more severe offense — asking a prospect to repeat information your organization has already asked for!
Your prospect's time is valuable and needs to be respected. So do your research before every outreach, reference the company CRM, and approach each conversation with a purpose and some background information.At base level, you should know who the prospect is, what they need, and how far they’ve already gone to get it.
You’re too eager to follow up
Following up is an essential part of any sales process, but timing is everything. Many sales teams today are using technology to monitor their prospects' behavior, often unbeknownst to the prospects themselves. And in this new technology-focused sales realm, there’s no standard for when or how often you should follow up.
But this is certain: just because a prospect is viewing your social media pages, marketing campaigns or website, doesn’t mean they are ready for a sales conversation. It simply means they are doing what all buyers do today — conducting their own research.
Every buyer is different, and your correspondences should be in response to the actions your prospect takes. If they submit a form online — absolutely reach out. If they repeatedly visit the same article or website page — the odds are in your favor. But if they like your social media post, hold steady. This doesn’t necessarily mean they want to talk.
When you do finally connect with a prospect, should you tell them you’ve been watching them? According to HubSpot, not unless they ask. But you also shouldn’t lie about it. The truth is, we monitor customer behavior so we can improve their buying experience and help fit the right solution with their wants or needs. Do you get mad when Netflix recommends a movie or TV series? No. For the most part, it’s helpful. The same goes for how your company monitors its prospects. Spin it that way and you won’t look creepy.
You talk too much
Have you ever been on a first date that felt more like sitting through a lecture? It’s a complete turn-off, right? Talking too much has the same effect on your prospects.
They already know more than you think about your products or services. Before you start to tell them more, actively listen to what else they might share with you. Then, ask the right questions in response to take the conversation deeper and find out what information they still need to reach a purchasing decision. In the sales/consumer relationship, the consumers have the upper hand. Listening more and talking less will help sales reps tip the scale.
You aren’t bringing any value to the table
Finally, your prospects might be avoiding you because you aren’t actually helping them get to the next step in their buyer's journey. Are you having the right conversation with them at the right time? Are you enriching their experience by educating them on things they don’t already know? If they feel for one second that you’re wasting their time or neglecting to genuinely help them, they likely won’t go out of their way to return your emails or phone calls.
Ultimately, some prospects just aren’t meant to be. Not everyone is a good fit for the products or services you’re selling, and our final piece of advice is to know when it’s time to walk away. If marketing is doing their job, you have a sales pipeline filled with potential customers, and the next prospect might just be the big fish you’re after.
Inbound selling is like a delicate dance. You must be self aware and simultaneously capable of reading your prospect's every move so you can plan yours accordingly. If your sales team is having trouble finding their rhythm, sales alignment might help.