We are all familiar with feelings that range from disappointment to desperation when a customer or lead becomes unresponsive. Why won't they return my calls? What did I do wrong? More often than not, a customer's lack of response is related to things going on in their world more so than any missteps on our part, they get busy, are waiting on feedback/input from someone else, or their priorities have shifted. For these reasons, it is important that we not assume silence signals the death of a customer's interest, lest we give up too soon and walk away from a sale. Still, lacking insight as to what is going on is a frustrating and unsettling situation for any sales professional.

A recent HubSpot Sales Blog, 7 Tips to Get Unresponsive Prospects Talking Again, provides these ideas for getting customers to talk again:

  1. Don't refer to the past
  2. Change your close
  3. Engineer an opening with someone else
  4. Vary your contact attempts
  5. Throw a Hail Mary
  6. Get Personal
  7. Ditch the break-up email

You can read the entire article here. In addition to the considerations and tips provided in the HubSpot Sales Blog, here's another idea to understand your customer's silence: Ask them. Ask them why they have gone quiet. Of course, we need to do this in a respectful, non-whiny, non-angry and non-guilt-inducing way; but, in most cases, it is perfectly appropriate and extremely efficient to simply ask the customer what has changed to squelch his/her responsiveness. Explain that you've noticed the communication has gotten quiet on his/her end and you want to better understand. Has the plan changed? Or just the timing? What can you do to facilitate progress? If it is just timing, communicate with the customer to determine the desired timeframe for follow up. The stronger our relationship with the customer, the more latitude we have for candor and inquiry as to what is going on.

Sales professionals who are too quick to walk away when customers go silent will miss out on a significant sales opportunity. Don't assume non-responsiveness reflects a change of heart or lack of interest. Don't assume repeated follow-up casts you as a pest. Instead, interpret unresponsiveness as the signal for you to explore, understand the customer's current needs and respond with diligence.