Does this sound familiar? You have a great initial conversation – or even face-to-face meeting – with a prospect. They seem genuinely excited about moving forward. You were on the ball and booked your next appointment with them while they were still with you.
When the meeting was over, you mentally added them to your income tally for the month. And then…nothing! They became elusive. You couldn’t get them on the phone. They emailed and apologetically cancelled the meeting, and haven’t responded to your alternate dates.
Yes, it’s possible the competition snapped them up, or something in your conversation gave them pause later. But let’s assume it really was a slam-dunk and they haven’t been poached.
What you’re dealing with here is your prospect’s own internal barriers to changing their behaviour. Emotions drive behaviour.
Oh baloney, you may be saying. I’m a numbers guy/gal. Logic motivates my behaviour. Really? Take a moment and travel down memory lane to all the New Year’s resolutions, mid-year goals, best intentions to work out more, eat better, learn that new language, finally read that pile of books, and on and on it goes.
There’s a very predictable emotional pattern that we all go through when approaching a new goal: hope and skepticism, a flash vision of the potential improvement, a rush of motivation and determination, followed by a thud. The reality of the long road ahead, the work involved and the discomfort of change sets in. Suddenly, the burning need to take action has fizzled and your next meeting gets shunted to the ‘I’ll get around to it someday’ column.
When your prospect has disappeared, a lot of the time this is what’s going on.
To close more business, you’ve got to help them stay in that motivation/determination phase. Here are 3 strategies to help you do that:
1. Paint a vivid picture.
In the meeting, get them to describe in detail the outcome they’re looking for. Really enjoy it with them. Ask them why their goal is so important. This will help to uncover the deeper motivations that drive them. Make note of this critical information because you’re going to use it.
2. Juice their emotions.
In every follow up contact, remind them that you’re excited to help them achieve xx specific goal. Add value to the contact by sending them a picture or information or a report that fuels the fire and helps them keep believing in that goal. Tease them with a client story, and that you want to share in your next meeting just how you helped them achieve the same desired outcome.
3. Lower as many barriers as possible.
Know that the loss of enthusiasm – the ‘thud’ – is about fearing the work involved or fearing change. To counteract this predictable dip in emotions, present their next steps in bite-sized tasks instead of mountains.
Even if the facts are the same, hearing something like: ‘We’ll be able to get all the ground work done and set things in motion in just one hour’ is far more palatable than: ‘First I’m going to need you to find all of these documents. I can’t really put a plan together for you without them. We’ll go over them in the next meeting. And I need you to fill out these forms…’ Suddenly, cleaning out the garage seems a bigger priority than this!
Instead, continually use comforting messages like ‘in this short meeting’, ‘simple process’, and ‘I’ll be with you every step of the way’.
When you understand the emotional journey your prospects go through, you can help them stay excited enough about achieving their ultimate vision to keep them motivated and moving forward. Embed this as a part of your follow-up strategy. Fewer prospects will go MIA and you will close far more business.