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How to Get Unresponsive Prospects to Call You Back

Follow-up Sales Calls

“My Contact Has Gone Cold and Isn’t Returning My Calls or Emails – Should I Try and Call Higher?”

In my opinion, if your prospect is giving you the cold shoulder, calling higher will most likely only make the situation worse.

Something happened that put you back in the “not worthy of respect” salesmen category.

Notice I didn’t say you did or didn’t do anything to deserve it, but there you are — no sense in doing something that would further solidify their decision by trying to go around them.

I am curious, however, as to why you didn’t start higher to begin with, but let’s assume that you were speaking with the right person based on this particular prospect’s purchasing process.

Let’s also assume that steps were not skipped, and looking back, everything was in line.

Let’s also say that based on previous calls, it is reasonable to believe you were “liked” by the point of contact and were close to finalizing a deal when all of a sudden, poof! No communication.

Not even a “we’ve decided to go in a different direction” email. Nothing.

Now keep in mind, that we are making a lot of assumptions here that the salesperson followed the sales process plan to a “T” and was spot on.

This is rarely the case in these situations! Most often, when a qualified prospect that you would typically sign on as a new client goes “south,” we can trace it back to a few missed steps that led to the missed opportunity.

But let’s say everything checked out, and you are experiencing that “very rare” situation when what should have been a new client signing goes silent on you.

Follow-up Sales Call Gatekeeper Script


Don’t Assume Anything. Critical thinking skills take “assumptions as facts” out of the equation.

Maybe your contact was reassigned (or even resigned) or went on vacation or had a personal issue to deal with.

This is where an assistant or a secretary (also known as gatekeepers) can be of huge value and an asset to you.

Try contacting the assistant and be very upfront.

Something like:

“I’m calling because (Prospects Name), and I were close to (however you want to word it) and then all of a sudden POOF! He disappeared on me… If I’ve done something wrong or he no longer wishes to speak with us, that’s fine; I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t something more serious before we move on… any chance you could ask him how he would like us to proceed from here?”

If there were something internally (like a personal issue or a promotion/demotion or pink slip), you’d probably hear about it now from the assistant/gatekeeper.

If, however, nothing like that happened and your prospect is still there, once an internal person passes the message along with the odds of you getting a call or at least an email back, it will go up.

The Unresponsive Follow-up Sales Call

What If I Don’t Get a Call / Email After That?


If you don’t get some response after contacting their assistant, you are down to only two choices at this point.

Choice Number One:

Drop it and move on. It’s an expensive lesson to learn that you can lose more than one sale by putting your thoughts and energy into trying to resurrect a deal that was within reach but is now gone.

As professional salespeople, part of our top-level success will come when we can mentally handle the fact that a deal that was within our grasp slipped through our fingers.

You hear all the time that professional athletes need to have a “short memory”… A goalie gives up a soft goal, a pitcher makes the wrong throw that gets taken out of the ballpark, and a quarterback gives up an interception, or a tennis player flubs an easy winner.

“Sales” is no different. You need to learn how to purge your mistakes and losses and move on (learn and move on, that is) so that “one missed opportunity” doesn’t turn into 3, 4, 5, or 10 missed sales.

Choice Number Two:

Let’s say this was a really large account and want to make sure you pull out all the stops before opting for Choice Number One above.

Do something that most salespeople won’t do to get on their radar.

Sometimes that means reaching into your pocket.

FedEx them a “door stopper” with a note that says, “Hope we can keep the door open for possible business in the future.”

Or try sending a cactus gift basket with a note that says, “Up until recently, I thought everything was rosy with our offer… What happened?”

Or my favorite… It’s a greeting card or poster with a picture of a bridge that says “Problems Become Opportunities When the Right People Join Together” and write a note that says, “I can’t help unless I know what the problem is…”

The options in choice number two are the type of solutions salespeople use to separate themselves from their competition. It takes creativity and guts.

And it’s where the glory and rewards are.

Caution: If your prospects often go silent on you, that is a symptom of a bigger problem. One that most likely requires an overall tune-up to your current sales philosophy and process.

– Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.