Twice in the past week, I’ve had that experience that everyone who’s ever done any kind of business development hates. No, it’s not getting rejected or losing out to the competition… instead, it’s not getting any kind of response from a sales prospect. Nothing. Nada.
And this wasn’t a ‘cold call’ where I was hoping to get a call back. This was after we had developed a bit of a relationship… both of these prospects had downloaded several eBooks from our website, we had shared long, back-n-forth email threads, had conversations that lasted nearly an hour and I followed-up with proposals that they had requested. And all I wanted to know was if they wanted to move forward.
Tell me ‘yes.’ Tell me ‘no.’ Tell me you’re ‘thinking about it.’ Tell me I’m ‘a jerk.’ I don’t care… just tell me something!
Why do people do that? What are they afraid of?
When I first encountered this phenomenon, I thought it was because they were afraid to get swept back into some sort of sales conversation. Or maybe it was the stereotype come to life – the shy researcher is just too shy to say ‘no’ to your face.
But now I have a new theory… first, understand that the market research industry is not an industry that embraces marketing & sales (no one has every argued with me on that statement). So, perhaps, because most MRers don’t know how to ‘engage’ in the sales process, they also don’t know how to ‘disengage’ from it.
But it’s really not that difficult… be clear, be direct and be friendly. Say, “thank you, but no thank you.” That’s it! Everyone you treat like that will appreciate your approach and your honesty. While there might be some disappointment, we all know that we don’t win 100% of our proposals, so we’ll say, “Thanks for the opportunity” and move on.
Bottom line: Everyone’s time is precious. When you ask a vendor for a proposal and they deliver one, you have an obligation to get back to them with a decision in a timely fashion. And whether the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ you and the vendor representative can then both move on to more productive pursuits.
On behalf of business development people everywhere… thanks for understanding!