Why the 'Dear John'?

Forced to talk today about a bizarre, yet surprisingly frequent, sales knock-back which I was just involved with.  A meeting with two fellas from a prospect ended in high spirits, both saying they liked what we do and would talk it over with a trio of their senior management colleagues to understand their thoughts and then discuss next steps with us.

In true selling fashion, we indentified who the 3 others were, what they did and what potential courses of action could follow.

All seemed under control.  A plan was in place, a future meeting seemed assured.  Then disaster.  An email from one of the guys we’d met saying a basic ‘no thanks, but we’ll keep your details on record’. 

Now, two things under immediate analysis struck me.  Firstly, on what basis had the decision criteria been introduced allowing a ‘no’ to result at such a ludicrous stage?  Many actions on our part could have headed that off in hindsight.  The most telling to report on here, is that you should always prepare the prospect for a colleague’s ‘no’ and introduce a fall-back plan in case.  I normally always do this, so am annoyed I clearly didn’t spot it on this occasion.

The second is that the ‘Dear John’ gave no reason whatsoever as to why the proposal would not be pursued.  I have a sales girl on this case, and suggested to her an approach that calls up outwardly showing acceptance (‘that’s life, although not usually for us’) yet makes sure she find proper reasons for this snub.

And I suggested the line ‘it’s like if a boyfriend finishes with you and doesn’t tell you why, you’re racked with all sorts of worries about the future and need to know why…’ type thing.

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