6 Tips to Turn Apathetic Prospects and Clients Into Invested Partners
For many sales professionals, the greatest impediment to a sale is client apathy. The signs are easy to see. They return your calls, eventually. They respond to emails, succinctly. They do not avoid you. But they also don’t seek you. When you do engage, conversations are brief, to the point, and matter of fact.
Of course, this is uncomfortable, for both sellers and clients. However, it’s also perfectly normal. Like the ebb and flow of all relationships, from friends to co-workers and even spouses, it happens. Fortunately, there are steps sellers can take to turn apathetic prospects and clients into invested partners. Here are six useful tips:
Requalify Prospects and Clients
Often, apathy stems from misunderstanding. If the foundation of a relationship is not secure, you could be in for a rocky ride. With many players, including BDRs and Account Managers, it’s easy to overlook or misinterpret client need. Plus, needs are always changing. Here, it can be helpful to get back to basics. Rather than relying on initial impressions, start fresh and check the following:
- Ensure they are the right fit for your organization
- Review their financial situation
- Re-evaluate their market position
- Confirm your contacts are the right people
In sales, things change in a hurry. Sometimes, in the handoff from a BDR to an Account Manager, your prospect’s contacts and issues can shift. Rather than assuming your initial impression was correct, check-in with prospects and renew your relationship.
Refresh Value Proposition
Of course, an organization’s value proposition can be a make-or-break factor in building relationships. And most sellers know to tailor their propositions to the individual prospect or client. If your contacts seem distant, try renewing your solutions and the value you provide. Consider these tips:
- Re-evaluate your offerings to best suit the prospect or client’s needs
- Customize or mix-and-match solutions to ensure the best fit
- Upgrade your service agreements and/or consider value-adds
- Offer additional incentives to confirm commitment
As an organization’s needs change, their budgets and priorities change as well. This presents an opportunity to re-examine their needs and build value into your solutions.
Update Communication Style
Everyone knows how meaning shifts in the subtlety of texts. Worse, we can lose humor or intent without the right emoji or parenthetical aside. Of course, these are often not appropriate for business. But the same issues can plague our emails with prospects, especially in initial discussions. To upgrade communication, these tips can help:
- If you predominantly email, give them a call
- Mix up the days and times of your outreach
- Don’t rely on voicemail; call until you connect
- Leverage video chat to connect and deepen the relationship
- If possible, schedule office visits or lunch/golf outings
As telephone calls are more personal than email, video calls can similarly upgrade your messaging. This is even truer of in-person visits. With most COVID restrictions relaxed or lifted, it’s a great time to renew relationships in person. However, as this is not always feasible, vary your engagement and communication style. Email is great for check-ins, but telephone calls and video chats are more intimate.
Also, visual interaction boosts engagement. Use your active listening skills to read a client’s body language. You can learn a lot from movement and expression. Further, open-ended questions invite longer answers and commitment. Instead of questions that can be answered with simple yeses or noes, seek explanation. For example, “Can you expand on how your organization addressed the recent supply chain issues in your Northeast ports?”
Gain New Contacts
For sellers, the more contacts in an organization, the better. To keep up with an uncertain economy and ever-shifting sales landscape, sellers must build their contact base. In sales, who you know is as important as what you do. To build your contacts, consider the following:
- Ask your main contact who else might appreciate your outreach
- Stay abreast of personnel changes
- Use social media to know who’s who and what they do
- Find folks with similar interests or experience to create connections
Remember, you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. Contacts can check out or have an off day or week. Maybe they’re just swamped with more pressing concerns. In any event, it’s better to have a list of people you can call.
As noted, over time, all relationships can get stale. For co-workers who see each day in and day out, sometimes, there is simply nothing new to say. With prospects and clients, however, this can lead to apathy and lost revenue. To keep your relationships fresh, try these tips:
- Remind prospects and clients who you are and what you believe
- Show dedication rather than just tell
- Use personal stories to engage with clients
- Keep them informed of changes in your offerings and processes
- Share content that exhibits your leadership and expertise
Remember, salespeople are the best representation of an organization’s value proposition. Beyond products and service, which may not be especially unique or differentiated from competitors, you are your product. The best sellers must continually sell themselves as thought leaders and trusted advisors. Rather than “always be closing,” always be listening, always engaging. The more invested you are in clients, the more they’ll invest in your business.
Introduce a New Account Manager
If familiarity breeds contempt, in sales, it can more likely lead to apathy. While building rapport takes time, even the best sellers sometimes need a break from a client. The same can also be said of our clients.
When this happens, it’s best to make a change. Rather than a breakup or severing a personal relationship, think of this as a reset. This can be a new voice with fresh ideas or even a deeper connection that stems from shared experience.
Perhaps your client once worked with the same competitor as your new hire. Maybe they were born and raised in the Midwest, just like your new Account Manager. Here are some ideas when introducing a new Account Manager:
- Rather than a replacement, position them as an addition
- Emphasize different skill sets or pertinent expertise for this client
- Ensure they understand the client’s needs and buying process
- Update them on the client’s history with your organization
- Share insight into personalities, sense of humor, and communication preferences
While sellers and clients are often creatures of habit, both must sometimes break out of their comfort zones. When it comes to apathy, a change in Account Manager can kickstart client interest and reinvigorate relationships.
As with personal relationships, business relationships change over time. Often, however, the consequences are more severe. Reps can miss quota, or an organization can fall short of their goals. With the time and resources invested in our relationships, this can be a great loss. Fortunately, the signs of client apathy are obvious. We hope these tips help your organization refresh engagements and turn apathetic clients into invested partners.
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