Are you trying to convert sales prospects but your conversion rates continue to plunge?
Numbers vary between sources, but the latest studies suggest that only around 10% to 15% of leads turn into conversions.
That means you’re doing better than average if you convert 2 of 10 leads.
To nurture leads, you need to have alligator-thick skin. You need to accept some level of rejection.
Ghosting will happen. You just need to learn how to live, and learn from, this character-building experience.
Safe to assume, no one likes to get ghosted – not in love, friendship, meetings, or business. But especially in business, it can be incredibly frustrating and confusing when a sales lead goes icy cold.
Maybe you had an exciting initial call; great chemistry between company cultures, missions aligned, price points seem about right for everyone, and maybe even a couple of laughs.
You get off the call confident that it went well. You send a quick follow-up email to thank the person for their time… and to keep yourself top-of-mind.
Then it happens. Every business owner’s kryptonite – total radio silence.
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Getting Ghosted Sucks, But You’re Not Alone
With so much attrition on conversions (remember, 2 out of 10 is ahead of the pack), no wonder over 90% of marketers say that lead generation is their most important goal.
This post isn’t just for digital agencies though. It’s for anyone running a business who sends proposals to prospects. Though ~10% is the average conversion rate, it does differ by industry. How do you stack up?
Really, this is for anyone who needs to spruce up a worryingly worsening conversion rate.
There are many points in your sales funnel where a lead can go cold. The two most common places in the funnel, from our decades of collective experience nurturing leads and sales prospects, where they often go awol?
- After an initial call.
- After a proposal has been sent.
Many times, these two examples are one and the same. Here’s how.
Please, Stop Doing THIS After One Sales Call
When you send a proposal after a first call, you’re living risky – unless the prospect requested it already.
You have just made your first impression (and remember, you only ever get one). Let the sales prospect take a breath. Chances are, they aren’t ready to convert just quite yet.
As a business owner or decision-maker, the lead is still digesting your initial interaction. They are also likely busy with at least a handful of other tasks.
If you send an email with an unrequested proposal immediately after the call, the lead may read it, may get put off by it, and then just move on with their day. That’s your email, buried.
Maybe they require some more information and you jumped the gun firing off a proposal. If they still have questions or wanted more information, the proposal may seem obscenely high.
The sales prospect may have misinterpreted something you said, and the service they think you provide does not match the price tag, in their eyes.
There are just a few common reasons why a prospect might ghost you in the midst of the sales process.
Once you can identify barriers to entry for your leads, then you can adjust your sales process to take these into account. Then, there is less of a chance of being ghosted, which directly leads to increased conversions and sales.
And what does an increased conversion rate mean? More freedom and flexibility to grow your business!
Why Sales Leads & Prospects Don’t Convert?
Here are five specific reasons your sales prospects aren’t converting:
- They’re not ready to convert, so they go quiet on you.
- Your pricing shocks them and they don’t know how to negotiate.
- What you propose to them isn’t what they need so they just don’t respond.
- They sign with someone else.
- You didn’t nurture the lead.
Let’s cover each one in order to help you understand how you can circumvent these barriers to entry. More importantly, how you can improve your conversion rates.
Not Ready To Convert
It’s common to talk to people who are just starting their research. For experienced sales callers, you can get a whiff of this group pretty quickly.
Your product or service interested them but they are just not ready to convert (yet, if ever).
Before the C19 pandemic, we’d often hear:
“We’re thinking about doing some [insert marketing channel]. Our competitors are doing it and…[insert further waffling here].”
Now, there’s a chance that prospects in this mindset can turn into a client. That’s the value of being or hiring a quality salesperson. But the vast majority of the time, you will end up ‘wasting’ a lot of time.
Wasting is relative here, as this person is now in your sales funnel and has shown interest in your product.
So, how do you determine if someone is in this browsing phase and what sales actions should you take?
- Start by simply asking the sales prospect to tell you about the problem they need to solve.If they are unable to articulate the specific problem, then they’re not yet in the pain point phase. At this juncture, they are going to be harder to sign, especially at an industry-standard rate.
- Listen for the terms they use.If you hear “we’re thinking about” or “our competitors are” or anything around “getting quotes”, they are likely browsing. Listen carefully: are they actually looking to sign or are they just poking around for information?
If someone is just looking for quotes or thinking about it, do not overtly pressure them in any way. Instead, offer to send them your typical pricing or an outline of your services. Maybe both.
You could also refer them to various resources (ideally those you’ve created like a blog, so you can build trust with them as a subject matter expert). Yes, content marketing still matters – and this is one of the many reasons why.
Prospects in this phase are not ready to buy. They are in your sales funnel though, and that is what lead nurturing is all about.
Price Anchor to Avoid Sticker Shock
When a prospect receives a proposal, what do you think they do first?
We’d all like to believe that they read the whole thing and understand the value of your proposition. But the reality is people rarely read (mostly anything), and most just scroll to your price to see if budgets align.
So how do you avoid your prospects getting sticker shock – and running them off a sale?
First, let’s recognize that transparency and presentation are everything at this stage. Yes, they should ask more questions, but a lot of proposals are positioned as being the final offer instead of an open conversation.
Negotiation Can Save the Sale
Unless you have already agreed upon a price, present the proposal with room for compromise – not a final offer.
If you already discussed the price, a proposal can and should be the final offer to get the contract signed quickly.
But the proposal should only be sent once both parties are aligned on scope, timeline, and pricing. Many proposals are interpreted as being a final offer, when this may be just the opening bell of the negotiations.
Unfortunately, many prospects don’t know that negotiation is possible. They also don’t know how to negotiate within reason, as they are searching for services outside of their purview and first-hand knowledge.
It’s unfortunate but no less true.
So how do you avoid sticker shock for your prospects?
It all starts at the beginning and is best explained by the sales term of price anchoring.
You need to anchor them during your conversations to a higher price. Then, listen to see how they respond to understand if your pricing is in line with their expectations, wildly high, or suspiciously low.
A Lesson In Negotiation
For instance, you tell a prospect you worked with a client who had similar needs. Instead of hedging and lowballing yourself with “Say an audit costs $1,000…” go with “Say an audit costs $5,000…”
Listen closely to their tone of voice and body language, if you’re on a video call. If that’s within their expectations, they’ll just keep going and not bat an eyelash.
If that number is within their budget and they’re a sophisticated buyer, then they may ask what that audit encompassed to justify such a price.
They’re interested but the price merits discussion. A perfect jump-off point for negotiation and closing the sale.
If it’s not within their expectations, they’ll ask more about the price probably with a question like “Did you say $5,000?” to make sure they didn’t hear you wrong.
This person’s budget is sizeably smaller, which is good to know. From here, you can determine if it’s worthwhile to send a proposal at all.
Some advice: you do not always have to send a proposal.
If the prospect is unqualified based on budget, then you should walk away – unless you can trim back to scope to get it within their budget and still deliver them value.
Even then, it might not be worth the added complexity and may confuse your typical business processes.
Proposal Doesn’t Meet Their Needs
The next most common reason why sales leads go cold is that your proposal just does not meet the sales prospects’ current needs.
Quite simply, keep your proposal simple, transparent, and open for discussion (if possible). Answer:
- “What will I get?”
- “When will I get it?”
- “How much will it cost?”
Many proposals are simply a list of tactics, strategies, and tasks that the digital agency does.
This is not a proposal – this is a statement of capabilities.
A proposal answers the above three questions and weaves together a narrative, with strategies and data and timelines, that helps the prospect answer all of these questions.
They should also understand from your proposal how your specific strategy will help them reach their goals, and what the next steps are.
There are several reputable companies that offer proposal software to help make sure you are putting your best foot forward on that all-important first impression (of your pricing and services).
Without all of these things included in the initial proposal, the prospect will likely feel it is simply too much work to go back and ask for all of this. And also question why it wasn’t included in the first place.
Remember, barriers to entry are your worst enemy to close a sales prospect. Bring down those barriers!
Signed With Someone Else
Some things just can’t be helped. Often when a sales prospect does sign with another agency or company, that is the end of the search – so don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from them.
Two Reasons They Go Silent In This Scenario:
- They don’t know how to tell you nicely that they did.
- They don’t feel like they owe you a reply.
Usually, the former is the more likely culprit. They would rather ghost you in this way than deliver the unfortunate news and deal with your understandable disappointment.
If you’re being ghosted by someone after great conversations, and a proposal – and maybe even adjusting that proposal – do not hesitate to keep following up until you get a straight answer.
Do everything you can to get them to a “yes” or a “we signed with someone else” or a “not yet, but follow up with me in X months”.
So how do you do this?
Follow Up Strategy
The key is to be persistent but not a pest.
Try sending four or five short, to-the-point emails and a phone call over the next two weeks.
If you don’t get a reply, try this final pitch:
“[NAME], are you still interested in our [SERVICES]?”
Example: “Sarah, are you still interested in our SEO services?
This is called a spear email, otherwise known as a “nine-word email” popularized by Dean Jackson (a well-known real estate entrepreneur and marketer).
This email often gets one of the following replies:
- Yes, sorry, we are interested. Let’s get going.
- Yes, we are interested but not yet.
- We hired someone else and I forgot to tell you.
At least now you’ve either moved the conversation along or at least can mentally move on to other prospects. Clear the slate, learn from what may have happened, and use that for future prospects.
If you are struggling with your sales process and not closing enough work, join the Credo Platform today and open up an entirely new funnel of sales prospects actively searching for your skillsets and expertise.