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Dialog 8 : "I'll Get Back to You"

Scenario

You've finished giving the sales presentation for your computer system and are ready to write the order. Instead you hear, "I'll get back to you." You ponder the possible interpretations of this response, including "I'm not convinced of the benefits and see no urgent need to act," or "I've got more pressing problems than this that I need to handle." Or "I want to check out some other sources." Or "I don't want this product now, but I do want you to leave now!"

Strategies

You'll try to ascertain what it is your prospect wants to do between now and when she gets back to you. This will help you determine why she is hesitating and what her genuine objections might be. You'll design your dialog accordingly in order to address any concerns she might have and to try to urge more-immediate action by focusing on the present by using a technique such as the At-This-Point strategy. You'll also employ strategies that aim to bring you nearer to closing the sale including the Tie-Down strategy and the Subordinate-Question strategy. Tie-downs are closed-ended questions that end with phrases such as "isn't it," "won't you," "can't you," and "don't you agree." They are used to try to elicit a positive response from a prospect and to secure a measure of agreement. Subordinate questions seek commitment on smaller issues rather than the big one.

Experience Shows

Don't be discouraged by a delay in a purchasing decision. Remember that most sales reps usually stop their sales calls after the third try, but that most sales transactions actually occur after the seventh call. Think of the first six calls as steps that are bringing you closer to "Yes." Think of "No" as being short for "Not yet!"

Insights

When asked how many times he would contact a prospect before quitting, salesman Harry Collins said, "It depends on which one of us dies first."

Further Considerations

Figure 3.8 I'll Get Back to You.

Other useful questions to ask in this type of scenario are these: "Do you ultimately see yourself buying this product?" "When will you be ready to make a decision?" "What would have to happen in order for you to make a buying decision right now?" "When will you be getting back to me?"

Be Careful

True to form, this same Harry Collins is said to have made 130 calls on a single prospect during the course of one year before closing a sale. Determine whether the potential return over the life of a given account is worth a big investment of your time and energy.

Consider asking your prospects if they will be looking at other suppliers for your product. Have sales tools prepared that show how and why you're better than the competition.

What the Exemplars Do

Richard Gallagher is an author, academic, consultant, and counselor and was twice a representative to the White House Conference on Small Business. He recommends the use of narratives in response to objections. Narratives are true stories that educate the customer. For example, "I met with a prospect who hesitated to place an order for a certain product line. She wanted to wait for a sale, but instead our supplier actually increased prices! She ultimately purchased from us, but she found she lost money by waiting. You wouldn't want something like that to happen, would you?"

Always have your prospect give you a date by which you will hear back from her. Make a note of it, and call if you don't hear from her by then, referring to the fact that this was the date she gave you.

Ask Yourself

  • If I have to wait quite a while before the prospect can get back to me by phone, do I consider using other forms of communication (fax, e-mail, regular mail, deliveries) to stay in touch and remain on the prospect's "radar screens"?
  • Do I actually ask for the sale, or do I accept statements such as "I'll get back to you," without employing closing practices?
  • Do I collect useful "narratives" and add more as I find them?
  • Do I emphasize reasons for acting now rather than waiting? Do I point out applicable deadlines, offers, discounts, and so on, to try to urge more immediate action?
  • Am I prepared to make at least seven contacts with a prospect before giving up? If not, what is my callback limit?
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