3 Common Reasons Prospects Go Cold (and How To Warm Them Up Again)

by Blackwood Impact Group

Every sales team or small business owner has a collection of prospects in their database who have grown cold. These are potential buyers of your product or service who were very interested in purchasing from you at one time. However, they eventually ceased communicating with you. By default, they didn’t make a purchase. Even if it has been months since you last connected with them, it is often worth re-engaging a cold lead to see if you can still generate a sale.

One of the most significant benefits of reviving a seemingly dead prospect is you don’t have to spend a considerable amount of your marketing budget on raising awareness; they already know who you are. They’ve previously spoken with you, have visited your website, and may have even engaged in a portion of your sales process. Your expenditure could be as simple as a few minutes of your time to send a follow-up email or place a phone call.

But to generate sales successfully from inactive prospects, you must first understand why they disengaged from your sales process in the first place. Discerning why they said “No” or stopped responding to your messages will hold the key to identifying what it will take to bring them back to the negotiation table. More importantly, you’ll be better prepared to potentially turn yesterday’s “No” into today’s “Yes.”

Your first step will be to reach out with a simply-worded email or phone call to follow-up and find out if they are still in need of your services. Be prepared: not everyone will respond. But of those who do, you may find some who are immediately ready to pick up the sales process right where you left off. In those cases, great! In other cases, you may find that they made one of the following three common decisions. If so, try the suggested tactics to see if you can reignite their interest.

Reason #1 – Your Prospect Didn’t Buy Anyone’s Solution

A common reason prospects go cold is because after evaluating different solution providers, they decided not to take action with anyone. They have essentially chosen to leave their problem unresolved because they are too afraid to take the risk of making a change. Either their pain wasn’t painful enough, or no one has helped them understand the hidden costs of their issues.

Possible Problem: 
Many times, during the discovery process, salespeople hear the prospect’s surface-level symptoms their business is experiencing. They are satisfied with that input, feel they have a prescription, and move on to tell about the solutions. Without digging deeper to find out what their problem is truly costing them, you won’t be able to help your prospect come to a decision. You are ultimately doing them a disservice by not helping them move forward to resolve their issues.

Revival Strategy:
If you have the opportunity to reengage, take the time to improve your questioning skills in your discovery meeting. There is a reason they entered your sales funnel the first time. Go beyond their top-level needs to find out if their challenges and your solutions are a right fit.

The prospect will present you with the challenges they are currently experiencing. Ask further clarifying questions. Request examples. Find out how it is affecting their work. Ask them how they feel about it. Figure out what is the monetary impact this problem is having on the company and them personally.

Getting to these deeper levels can reveal the emotions that will motivate the prospect to take action. Maybe the business has already spent a lot of money trying to resolve their issue and are scared of wasting more. The company may be in jeopardy of losing more accounts to competitors if the problem persists. Jobs might be on the line. Maybe the effects will be felt personally: the business owner might need to take out a second mortgage on their home or possibly their child’s education fund might be impacted if the problem isn’t resolved.

These are the actual costs of leaving their issue unresolved. During your presentation or sales process, you can refer back to these points and remind them of why they are seeking your help in the first place. Remind them of the ramifications of not taking action and paint them a picture of what it could be like with the issue resolved. Successfully quantifying a prospect’s pain usually results in closed sales.

Reason #2 – Your Prospect Bought A Solution From Your Competitor

Another common reason prospects go dark is because they decided to purchase with one of your competitors. If you reach out to a cold prospect and they respond by letting you know they went in a different direction, you may be tempted to thank them for their time and never contact them again. But you might still be able to generate a sale from this seeming dead lead later on down the line.

Possible Problem: 
When a prospect has moved on to another solution, you won’t know why until you ask. This is an excellent opportunity to learn where you might have gone wrong. It is tough to receive feedback of this nature. But if the prospect was kind enough to reconnect with you and tell you their decision, they might be open to sharing with you why they didn’t choose you. So, ask them what you could have done differently. Better still, try to find out what your competitor did right and see if you can implement what’s working into your processes.

Revival Strategy:
You can still potentially generate income from this seemingly dead lead by keeping in touch with them even after they are engaged with another solution provider. Depending on the nature of the solution or product they purchased, there are plenty of opportunities for their selected vendor to get things wrong. Touch base ever so often to see how their project is progressing.

If things are going well, great. If things are not, see where you can genuinely help them resolve the issue with their chosen vendor. Suggest options they might not have thought of. Share with them questions they should be asking their account manager. Pass on helpful articles about the process they are going through.

When the prospect senses your authentic concern, they may turn to you for minor fixes, consulting, an upgrade, or they even may want to switch to you if problems persist with their first vendor. You mustn’t try to jump in and offering your services first. Show your concern and continue to nurture them. Even if things go well with their chosen vendor, they might send you a referral because they have seen how attentive you’ve been to them when they weren’t your client.

Reason #3 – Your Prospect Didn’t Think You Could Solve Their Problem

When you ask a former prospect why they didn’t go with your product or service, you may receive an answer which translates to they didn’t think it was worth it to purchase with you. Sometimes, prospects don’t believe you have a viable solution that could solve their problem. As a result, they either don’t purchase from anyone, or they buy from someone else (reasons #1 and #2 above).

Possible Problem: 
At the root, this means your message is not effective. Take a look at your marketing campaigns. How are you positioning your products or services? Review your sales presentation materials and talking points. Did you clearly express the value you bring and how you can benefit them? This could be an opportunity to revamp your messaging so that it is clear.

Revival Strategy: 
If you know that your products or services can help this prospect, and they haven’t purchased another solution yet, ask for another discovery meeting with them and present your solution again. Talk deeply about their issues and be sure to unlock their true pain points, as explored in reason #1. Do your research into their market. Understand what is driving trends for their business. Show how you can help them stay ahead of the curve. Make sure they are aware of what it could cost them if they do not solve their problem.

In many cases, properly reframing your presentation is likely to result in a sale. If they say “No” again, it may not mean all is lost entirely. You can still stay in regular contact with them (as we outline below) because their situation might change in a few months or a year.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of the reason a prospect goes cold, there is almost always a way to warm them back up. Genuine and consistent follow-up is at the core of any revival strategy you implement. Be sure to gather as much information about them, their industry, and their pain points as possible.

Create easy ways to stay relevant in their mind, whether by email, phone, social media, or even texting. Send a mix of business messages (case studies, white papers, industry stats) and personal touches (holiday or birthday cards) that help them feel you indeed are concerned about them and their business. Determine if a 30, 60, 90-day or semi-annual time-frame is best for reaching out.

Even if your efforts don’t immediately place them back into your sales funnel, don’t stop following up; adjust your frequency if necessary. People are not as loyal to brands as they were before. They may need upgraded services or consulting help in the future. If you have been remaining top of mind, you will likely be the first call they make when they have a need or want to refer someone.

Blackwood Impact Group helps small to medium-sized businesses develop and implement effective sales strategies. Contact us today at 770-502-6295 or info@blackwoodimpactgroup.com to learn more.