Top-Shelf Tip No. 182:

"People respond well to those that are sure of what they want."

Anna Wintour

Three Ways To Guarantee Customers Don’t Ignore You

As a sales professional, you've probably been in this situation several times: A prospect, client or customer says they'll get back to you and then you don't hear anything. You wait and then you wait some more, but nothing. You send emails and leave voicemails. Still nothing. You continue with the follow-up communication but receive no response. It's frustrating, to say the least.

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, says this kind of ghosting almost never happens to him because he follows three simple rules in all his important business interactions. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight James' three ways to ensure customers don't ignore you.

1. Get a solid commitment. At the end of every conversation with a contact, James obtains a specific, scheduled commitment to meet again. For example, if the contact says something like "let's touch base next week" or "I'll talk to my boss and get back to you," James counters with "Great idea! Let's schedule a call at 2 pm next Wednesday to check the status and plan next steps." Pinning the customer down to a specific appointment commits the customer to a deadline, holds the customer accountable and if the customer blows off the appointment, James now has an excuse to reschedule the meeting without coming off like a pest. He says this works because it's emotionally and psychologically easier for a customer to blow off a fuzzy commitment than a specific one.

2. Document that commitment. After each conversation, James emails the customer three things:

  • A summary of the meeting that documents the commitment the customer made.
  • Two schedule items, one in Outlook format and the other in iCalendar format. He wants to make it as easy as possible for the customer to get this into their calendar.
  • A personalized reminder on the day before the meeting. It says "I'm looking forward to meeting with you tomorrow" along with some tidbit or fact that might be relevant to the discussion.

James says this works because the emails and schedule items emphasize that you're a serious businessperson and that you take the meeting seriously. More important, you make it impossible for the customer to claim they didn't know about the meeting.

3. Keep everyone in the loop. James says that if a customer brings someone else from the customer's firm into the conversation, he keeps that person in the conversation. If his customer contact CCs an email to their boss, James also CCs that boss in every important email, even if it's in response to an email that didn't CC the boss. James says this is effective because customers are far less likely to miss an appointment if multiple people (especially their boss) know they've made a commitment.

If you don't want to be brushed off by your customers, try using the tips above to take a different approach.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, has authored a dozen books, hundreds of feature articles, and thousands of online columns, mostly about business and technology.

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