The Sale That Seemed Like It Wasn’t

My calendar got pinged 100 days ago with a new meeting. I didn’t schedule it and I didn’t recognize the name of my next day’s virtual coffee date. Someone made it for themselves. I was curious.

I have Calendly. This is an online calendar that allows anyone to book a Zoom session together within my work calendars’ availability. I keep this link public on LinkedIn, but I usually have at least a small established connection before a meeting is initiated. Not this time. So, I took the liberty to email a ‘looking forward to our meeting’ message. It was going to be with a BOM, or business office manager. She had been tasked with research into a new payment processor for their medical company.

If you haven’t yet experienced major turbulence, our next day’s Zoom meeting would be a prime example. It was so choppy that my coffee almost spilled. My prospect had to go out to their car and finish our conversation. 

At the end of our fifteen-minute chat, ten of which were taken up by technical difficulties, we bid goodbye. “I’m never getting this account,” I thought. I wasn’t quite sure how I could salvage this opportunity. While an email summary was sent by next day, radio silence ensued. No response for weeks.

My question to the reader is, would this be considered a lost opportunity? Or maybe this should be looked at as the beginning of the process. How would you follow up, or would you?

I did the following and they are now a client as of a week ago. I waited six weeks to follow up, and another month for a response. Why? Because I didn’t initiate this contact. It was my prospect. My value was recognized. In return, it led them to action.

This isn’t a flat-out rule. A carpet cleaning business getting an inbound call, should approach the situation a bit differently and attempt to close on that initial call. The client is calling for a one-time home clean and will likely decide on their desired company in just a few calls. 

However, in this scenario of a continuous service such as what I offer, combined with the office staff doing delegated research, my job is to give decision-making the space it requires. There are multiple levels involved in such a decision. It usually ends with a landed recommendation on the desk of the C-level. We must understand that our value add was heard and researched. It’s now time to relax and keep a note in our CRM for following up at a later date, not tomorrow.

My email six weeks later was simple. “Hi Sara, it was wonderful briefly connecting. How much the world and our lives have changed since then. I do hope you had a nice Yom Tov and that your research on this project is coming along. I’m available to touch on any payment follow-up questions together. You are welcome to call, text, or WhatsApp me on my business line or cell. Best.”

I didn’t go into detail. My previous call summary was on that same email thread.

That follow-up ultimately garnered a response a month later in the form of: “Hi Shalom, thanks for reaching out. Sorry, it took a while for me to get back to you. My boss asked if you could reach out to him. He would like to set it up. His email is…” 

On our setup call, the boss asked me a question that I loved.

“So how did we hear about you?” 

I had a one-word answer.

“LinkedIn”, I enthusiastically responded. 

“Interesting”, responded my new client. 

When positioning ourselves in the public eye, our value should catch others in such a way that we are contacted and referred. In this case, it was those combined, with an added internal referral up the chain of command. Nothing is quite as powerful as an internal referral. That recipe consists of a three-word winning combination: Positioning, Patience, and Pleasantry. Four if you’re reading this in turbulence.

Shalom Markman
Merchant Consulting Group LLC

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