When I was growing up, the folk rock trio of Peter, Paul & Mary sang an anti-war protest song called, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" It's funny how after all these years that this tune came roaring back to me as I was thinking about disappearing prospects.
Don't you just hate it when hot prospects suddenly stop returning your call. It's especially hard to deal with when they'd been so eager to move forward with you only weeks before.
At first, you assume their lack of responsiveness is an isolated situation that will quickly self-correct. But after repeated failed attempts to connect, you start to question your own sanity.
You could have sworn they were interested, but their current behavior indicates otherwise. And, not wanting to appear too desperate or to come across as a real pest, you're stymied in terms of what your next steps should be.
Truth be told, they've disappeared into the infamous "Black Hole" - sometimes never to be seen again.
Why They Disappeared
As a seller, it's always important to analyze what may be causing this behavior before taking action. In my experience, these are the typical reasons why prospects disappear into "The Black Hole." Jill Konrath
- They're totally swamped. Without a doubt, this is the most common. In virtually ever company today, people have way too much to do and not nearly enough time to get it all done. They fully intend to continue the conversation, but not right now.
- Priorities changed. This can happen overnight. Changing market conditions, bad 3rd quarter results, and new leadership are just a few of the possible root causes. But when this happens, it's darn near impossible to regain your momentum in the short term.
- Lack of urgency. Sometimes sellers confuse a prospect's interest level with a desire to take action today. As such, they share all the glorious details about their offering instead of building a business case for immediate change.
- Column fodder. Occasionally prospects just need comparative bids/pricing to justify their decision to go with another company.
- They know everything. When prospects feel they have all the information they need, there's literally no reason to talk with you any further.
Different reasons call for different actions. Some you can prevent by doing things differently in your customer interactions. Always be open to this possibility since prevention is your best cure. Others you have no control over.
In any case, you need answers! Is it "yeah" or "nay"? Are they still interested or not? Should you keep pursing them or find new prospects?
We'll explore what you can do in Part II: Where Have All the Prospects Gone?