If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced being dropped into the “silent zone” — a key moment in the sales process when you say to yourself, “Why has selling become such a painful and arduous process”.
The “silent zone” is when you’ve worked with a prospect over a period of time, built a relationship over-the-phone or in-person (at least you thought you built a relationship), they expressed serious interest in your solution, then all of a sudden they don’t return your calls.
“It’s not like I did anything wrong”, you say to yourself. In fact, as far as you’re concerned, you did everything “right”.
– You invested time and energy talking with your prospect – you made an excellent impression with the professionalism of your solution.
– You followed-up as any good business person would.
– You gave them all the information they needed to make a ?nal decision.
You’ve done all the work to create sales momentum and all you get from them is radio silence.
”Will I get this sale?” you ask yourself. “It feels like my prospect has let me down and broken the relationship that I carefully nurtured throughout the selling process.”
The “hopeium” trap
I want to shed some light for you on how you can use a different mindset to pull yourself out of the painful “silent zone”.
Most of us get caught up in sales “hopeium”. “Hopeium” is a comical term that expresses setting our hopes and desires on only making the sale. This becomes a self-directed trap because it completely silences the critical importance of being aware that we should be focusing on something else instead: getting to your prospect’s truth.
When we solely focus on the outcome, our trajectory is towards the result of getting the sale. We’re anticipating where things are going throughout the process, and we begin to expect things to happen as we hoped they would. Then when we get dropped into the “silent zone” and we start to lose our centeredness. Our sales process comes to a halt, we become anxious, frustrated, discouraged, and confused. Maybe we don’t even sleep well at night. We’re preoccupied with what went wrong. And sometimes there’s even a sense of betrayal. They said they would call, but now they’re not. Why?
Solving the mystery
Well, the only person who can solve that mystery is your prospect. And your prospect will only solve that for you when you shift to focusing on discovering the truth of what’s on their mind, rather than trying to close the sale. How can you approach your prospect when you know their avoiding you? Something important has to shift in your mind ?rst: You need to be accept that there is a 50% chance the sale may not happen, rather than having your mindset locked into “making the sale” being the only outcome.
Why do you need to learn to “let go” of the sale at this point? Because if you approach your prospect while hoping the sale will materialize, you introduce sales pressure to the relationship. Sales pressure pushes your prospects away from you and breaks any trust you may have developed with them. Instead, you can eliminate all sales pressure by telling them that you’re okay with their decision if they decide not to move forward, which is something you can assume based on their not having called you back.
Step backward, not forward
In other words, take a step backward rather than trying to move things forward. When you’re chasing a vanishing prospect with calls and messages trying to move the sale forward, you’re following the old mindset of chasing the sale. You’re focusing on getting a “yes.” The solution is to give up your agenda and start focusing on learning the truth of where you stand with your prospect and being ok with whatever the truth might be.
If you switch to focusing on ?nding out the truth, then the situation isn’t that you might be losing a sale, it’s just that you don’t know the truth yet. Read this a few more times, and let it sink in. You haven’t lost the sale. You just don’t know the truth yet. And all you have to do is call back and ?nd that out. This puts you solidly back into a place where you can make a decision to let the prospect go, or re-look at how you can meet their needs.
Here are 4 very important reasons to make the shift to this new mindset so you don’t start to lose your con?dence in your selling ability:
1. THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE
In the old sales mindset, when a client suddenly disappears, we start blaming ourselves. We don’t know where we stand with our prospect, and this state of limbo becomes really painful. Our self-talk is negative and full of self-blame. We’re on pins and needles, wondering whether the sale will come through. Anxiety and fear settle in, because we’re in limbo and we don’t know the truth of the situation.
How do you get the truth? By looking for it, rather than looking for the sale.
When you’re looking for the truth, your prospect knows you’re okay with either a “yes” or “no.” You’re essentially asking, “What’s the truth?” Rather than, “What can I do to rescue the sale?” So the next time you’re wondering if you’ve lost the sale, stop and recognize you may have fallen into that old trap of focusing on the sale. And start re-focusing on the truth instead. Remember that all you really want is the truth of where your prospect stands.
2. LOSE ILLUSION AND GAIN EFFICIENCY
If you can shift your mindset away from trying to make the sale, then you can get to the reality of where the deal stands. And once you know this, you can either stay involved with the prospect or move on.
What happens is that a “no” becomes almost as valuable as a “yes.” Because it frees up your time to ?nd prospects who are a more likely ?t for your solution. This adds a tremendous amount of ef?ciency to your work. It helps you weed out all those people you were chasing that you thought were good prospects.
Getting to the truth provides a way of knowing when to walk away from a deal without that guilt-laden voice that says, “You gave up, don’t be a wimp. Get back in there and keep selling.” Focusing on the truth translates into very real bene?ts that equal real dollars and tangible results. You’ll save hours of chasing prospects who have no intention of buying. And there’ll be a dramatic lowering of the self-sabotaging stress that comes from living in a constant state of limbo.
3. PRESSURE ALWAYS PUSHES AWAY
Good-hearted business people who sell, always fall into this trap. Whenever a prospect fails to get back in touch, we send emails and leave messages with a thinly-veiled invitation to move the sales process forward. But your prospect starts to feel trapped by you. Your prospect feels as though you’re looking out for your own needs, not theirs.
They see you as doing exactly what you’re doing, trying to get the sale. And any trust you’ve developed starts to dissolve, fast. You start to slip into a downward spiral that takes you farther and farther away from your true goal, which is to discover the truth of where your prospect stands.
4. INVITING THE TRUTH GETS THE TRUTH
The main reason prospects suddenly vanish is that they’re uncomfortable telling us the truth. They don’t want to disappoint us, or they don’t want to feel sales pressure from us. So keeping us at bay just feels better.
And we can’t really blame them. How often have they been called and called, chased by salespeople who hope to wear them down? Or how often has your own boss said, “Call them back and get the sale. Why is it taking so long?” Your boss blames you, and you feel that you’re not very good at selling anymore. So now you have to put pressure on your prospect. And of course this only makes things worse.
This happens every day. We’re stuck in that endless cycle of chasing prospects, trying to get them to respond to us. And the more we press, the more they run. But the opposite is true, too. The more we relax and simply invite the truth, the more straightforward they’ll be with us. Prospects feel okay sharing what’s really going on when they know we’re okay with hearing it.
The only way to discover the truth is to communicate in a way that helps the other person feel comfortable telling you the truth. What you don’t want is for them to think you’re calling just to make the sale. Remember, prospects will trust you and reveal what they’re thinking only if they feel like you’re on their side.
We must have a let go of our sales-oriented goal. You can’t simply keep pursuing until you make a sale happen, that’s old traditional sales thinking, and it’s wrong. It hurts your process. The new sales mindset breaks that old paradigm and opens up new avenues for honest communication.
THE SALES CONTRARIAN
I know that I’ve always been a sales contrarian, and everything I’m teaching goes against the grain of what you’re probably used to. But deep down, there must be a part of you that feels what I’m saying has some truth to it.
Watch what happens when you get completely away from that old “make the sale” way of thinking, especially when prospects have disappeared on you. You’ll ? nd yourself more productive and less frustrated.
It’ll make a world of difference in how well you work, how much you earn, and how much you enjoy what you’re doing.
To your success,
Ari, how timely and true is your message today for me on chasing potential customers that fall silent. I have more and more adopted the attitude that they have become disrespectful of our “relationship” instead of seeking to find the truth and let go of the results. Thanks for helping me to see this. Lance