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Have You Been E-jected?

You read that correctly, I didn't mean rejected, nor was I referencing a seat that launches you into the air. I'm talking about the electronic dismissal to your offering. We live in a great time where we have more ways or means to communicate rapidly, but are these effective? Through electronic communication we can confirm an appointment long after business hours or respond to a question when that client would wait to call the next morning. However, there is a trap to this communication. By engaging in this conversation via text, email or even social media inner connections, it is easy for the client to terminate the relationship. More important, if we respond within those confines of communication we may never get the client back on track. This is when personal communication may be the best answer.
The means to how we communicate can set a standard or understanding how we will communicate going forward. An example is that you may find it easy to communicate with a client after 9 p.m. and that is when you hear from them or when they usually respond. This goes along perfectly until the client decides to terminate discussions for some reason. At this point, I would caution you to not respond electronically. 
I have seen countless copies of communication where the client is moving away. In some cases, I see a very long response to their electronic dismissal. I suggest you stop and ask yourself these questions first:
  • Do I know why they have made this decision?
  • Do I know what their objection or condition truly is?
  • Is there still a window of opportunity to bring this back to life?
  • Is it the correct decision for them?
Let me explore each of these. First, we must know why the client has come to this conclusion. Far too often, the salesperson is speculating. By assuming and responding to what you speculate, you may not be scratching the surface for the pending decision. This is a great time to pick up the phone and clarify.
Next, you must have a clear objection or condition. We often address what we interpret is the problem and that is not what is in the question. They may be saying for example "I have made this decision because of financial concerns." The comment needs clarity. Is it a concern with your financial well-being , their financial well-being or a cost/price concern? Many times a salesperson starts to respond without the right data and goes in completely different direction. Once again, it makes sense to clarify the issue or concern and properly address it.
Finally, if we are going to determine the finality of this decision, we should determine not only the first two questions, but what the client has decided to do or in what direction are they moving. If we have established a consultive relationship, we may be able to shed some light on such a path. The goal isn't to change their mind, but rather to make sure they are working with the correct information, doing what is right for them and that we bring closure to the situation for both of us.
In many cases, they simply don't have enough information to act. The easiest thing to do is terminate or slip back to status quo. The goal of the salesperson should be to get them to zero or ten on a change.
Zero means I'm 100 percent sure that I should go in a different direction or stay as is. Ten means that I have to make a change or make a purchase. Clients that stay in the five to six range drive themselves crazy. A way for them to end the frustration or stop thinking about it is to shut it down. This may not have solved their problem or may not be a long term answer. We  must understand their situation to help or guide them in whatever is the right direction.
Another challenge can be time. Busy people are the people you want to be working with. This also creates a challenge as it is easy to be too busy and shut down the process. This simply means, they aren't convinced they need to make a change. As a salesperson, you have not determined the reason for change in the first place. People will make time, if there are true determined needs, wants and desires. "We always have time for things that are truly important to us."
There may be a host of reasons for why the conversation is being terminated. How do I suggest you should respond?
  1. Call and reference the email or text
  2. Ask permission to ask a couple of questions
  3. Clarify their positions, reasons and concerns
  4. Determine in your mind if they are still a good fit for you, and if you or your product are a good fit for them
  5. Ask if you can respond 
  6. Start with making sure they understand you're fine with a "no" if that is the right thing for them
  7. Remind them the goal is to get to zero or ten and respond appropriately
  8. Ask if this has made a difference in their position
  9. Determine a path or timeline, if they are back on track or bring closure to the relationship and leave taking the high road
The challenge with electronic communication is that we can't read tone. We don't see body language and more importantly, we may lack information that can help both of us. So, use this great tool, but know when the personal touch is the right thing to do and call them. A cell phone can take great pictures, give you internet access, text, and so much more. However, keep in mind that they were first made to place a phone call.

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