The Valley of Death
You have been working with the customer for months now and communication has been good at all times. You have confidently put them on your sales forecast and then all of a sudden ‘radio silence’. We have all been here whether we know it or not. The Valley of Death is an inevitable part of any complex sales process. It is something you need to be aware of and respond to appropriately.
What is it?
Put simply this is when your customer goes quiet. You are no longer engaging or driving the sales process. The potential customer does not return your phone calls or answer your emails. It can go on for days, weeks or even months in rare occurrences. For any sales person it is both a worrying and stress inducing time. Why does it happen?
Usually it is the period when the customer believes that they have all relevant information from you and can make an informed decision. They may be having internal meetings or waiting on a board meeting. Alternatively they may have decided to explore a competitor’s proposition in more detail. Worst case the project has been canned and they are too embarrassed to tell you!
What can you do?
Firstly don’t panic. If you have done things correctly upto now you will have been expecting this. First thing to do is ascertain:
- Is it part of the decision making process?
- Is the customer talking to someone else?
- Has something happened in the business?
- Is there still a project?
But how if they are not talking to you. There are a number of options to take and these include:
Check the website for any relevant business news
Call all your contacts especially your trusted advisors, more often than not at least one person will talk to you
Craft a campaign to highlight the key benefits of your solution and mail the relevant people at the customer
Sit tight and hope for the best
The last option is not recommended unless you are supremely confident. If it is a business related issue then you will just have to see how it pans out. Quite often the project will get delayed rather than canned.
If the customer is in decision making mode then a well crafted campaign will often help to support your proposition. Follow up any email or written communication with a call. More questions may arise and any chance to sell the benefits of your solution will help.
Calling contacts on a regular basis will show that you are still keen. It’s a fine balance though between being interested and being a nuisance. Eventually they will come back to you with an answer. No contact during the silent period is probably not good for you. If you managed to break through the barrier then you will more than likely come out of the Valley of Death with a positive position or even an order