Your consulting firm submitted a proposal to Chlorissa (“Chlo”) Zing, COO at Fantasma, S.A. However, Ms. Zing canceled your scheduled appointment to talk about the proposal, and hasn’t responded to your request to reschedule.
Frustratingly, another hot prospect, Luke van Nesht, with whom your consulting firm held a number of promising conversations, has also stopped responding to your emails and phone calls.
What’s up with these missing prospects? Are they signaling disinterest or, perhaps, are they just busy, and how can you find out?
You need to figure out what’s happening, while maintaining the optimal level of persistence.
You don’t want to come across as desperate or pestering. On the other hand, your consulting firm needs to close deals, and tenacity is a necessary trait in successful business development.
In most cases, your consulting firm’s project is not your prospect’s top priority.
Therefore, start with the assumption that your consulting firm is still in the running for a project, and that your prospect is distracted by other work, other people, and squirrels.
Follow-Up Sequence to Ghosts
Of course, when a prospect doesn’t show up to a scheduled meeting, immediately follow up with a short note asking to reschedule. Offering chocolate inducements is optional.
Four More Tries
If your prospect becomes non-responsive, try following up four more times. Some tips:
- Send the second follow-up a few days after your first follow-up
- Space your remaining follow-ups roughly one week apart.
- Keep it simple. You can use language like: “Luke, quick follow-up on our discussion. Can we get a date on the calendar next week?”
- Don’t reference earlier contact attempts.
- Always stay Right-Side Up. Focus on them and their business, not you and your consulting firm.
- Try different channels. Reach out via email, phone, SMS, LinkedIn and other platforms.
- If you know another person in the same organization, you could ask them to give your prospect a nudge. Play this card carefully, though.
Your sixth follow-up is this question:
“Chlo, the project we were talking about appears to be stuck. Is there a way we can shake it loose?”
Keep your message simple. Just that one question.
A Way Out
Your next message offers a way out. It sounds something like this:
“Luke, following up to see if you want to jump on the calendar. If you’re not interested, no worries. Just shoot me a note and let me know.”
Finish your follow-up sequence with an email. Subject line: Oops, I forgot to ask you this.
The body of your email is polite and mentions you should have asked this question earlier:
“Why did you decide not to move forward with our project?”
Include an easy-to-complete poll in the email with a handful of options. The post-loss survey will help you gather critical information about why prospects are ghosting your consulting firm.
This sequence won’t work every time, of course. However, tactful persistence will definitely win more business for your consulting firm.
What tips do you have for consultants whose prospects have gone silent?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.