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Why Prospects Won’t Call You Back (But Will Sometimes Talk to You If You Call)

Red wired telephone used to make membership sales calls

You have a bunch of leads. You constantly place calls to these leads. You follow up by phone, leave voicemail messages, send emails, and mail letters. But the prospects don’t call you back, don’t respond to your emails, and don’t stop by in person.

Then, one day, out of the blue, you get one of your prospects on the phone and talk with them for a good hour. You end up signing them up for an introductory class or significantly moving the membership sales process forward.

Why does this happen?

You may argue that you are striking while the iron is hot. Today, the prospect’s urgency (their compelling reason to act now) passed a threshold, so they welcomed you in.

This scenario underscores the importance of consistent follow-up. You need to catch that critical moment.

But if there was urgency in the first place, why didn’t the prospect get back in touch with you sooner? Why didn’t the prospect call to discuss their urgent need?

The Reversal Curve

Most successful sales processes appear linear. We make a progression of sales or networking calls. Each touch point leads to a greater sense of client urgency which eventually culminates into a closed sale. This process is just the tip of the iceberg, the hard sales contacts.

After we make the first successful contact, we think we’ve made great progress. However, the prospect’s sense of urgency typically falls to zero right after our conversation ends. They forget we exist. The prospect―whether a child, teenager, or adult―has many other things going on. Your martial arts program or fitness class is no longer top of mind. Some combination of our reminding the prospect of the urgency, combined with their internal sense of urgency, moves the process along to a second contact point.

On the day we contact the prospect and get through to them, we usually benefit from the explosive impact of internal urgency meeting an external urgency.

Internal Urgency and External Urgency

The internal urgency is the compelling reason to act―the deep underlying answer to the question: Why? Why is the prospect engaged in a serious conversation with us? Why does Jane want to sign up for your kickboxing class? What is her compelling long-term need?

The external urgency answers the question: Why now? What is the immediate trigger explaining why they finally called you back? The external urgency is often the turning point for the prospect ― a strong desire that needs to be fulfilled now. For example, in Jane’s case, “I need to lose 20 pounds before my wedding.”

It’s important to note that the internal urgency can be recognized and tolerated for a long period of time before the prospect actually takes action. Resistance to change is so great that prospects will often times settle and not act on their internal urgency. To maximize forward motion, in general, it is best to work the internal urgency before the external.

The Problem of Limited Consciousness; Aristotle’s Contribution

There’s only so much we can hold in our conscious focus at a time; perhaps four or five ideas or concepts. Whenever we have access to a prospect, we must share succinct, powerful concepts to grab and hold them. There is a short half-life to our ideas―unless we tie them into the prospect’s long-term compelling needs. The “belly to belly” urgency evaporates when we leave, and the greater context sets in. For techniques in developing proper and powerful concepts, Aristotle is both a potent source and inspiration.

To minimize the reversal curve, book the next appointment. Take advantage of the external urgency of a visit or a phone call, and maximize your strong conceptual presentation by booking the appointment when you are face to face with the prospect or talking with them.

About the author: membersolutions has taught selling skills for 17 years. He started three businesses and has made approximately 4,000 sales calls, selling both B2B and B2C. He invented a selling process, Urgency Based Selling®, with which he can typically help companies double their closing or conversion ratio.