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Business Management

Nine Sure-Fire Ways to Get Your Prospects to Respond

The following are some ideas to help you get a better response rate with your current customers and your prospective buyers.

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Three thousand: that’s the number of advertising messages the Newspaper Association of America claims the average American is exposed to … before breakfast.

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Hyperbole? I certainly hope so. But consider business communication (phone, text, email), personal communication (ditto) and a little news, sports and weather — and heaven forbid I neglect to mention Facebook. Let’s just say there’s a lot of noise out there. To cut through it, you must be compelling in your communication. Getting a prospective buyer’s attention these days is tough, and there appears to be no end in sight. That’s the bad news. 

Here’s the good news. If you are currently engaged in the profession of selling and grasp even the basics of solid communication skills, you can stand out like a shining star. You can engage your customers, earn more business and fuel your life like never before.   
The following are some ideas to help you get a better response rate with your current customers and your prospective buyers.

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1. Know your buyer’s preferred method of communication: phone, email or text

It’s often referred to as idiosyncratic communication — that method of communication in which we are most comfortable and therefore most likely to use. Some of it is personal preference, e.g. some people immensely dislike email and would prefer to speak on the phone. For others, it’s generational: go ahead and try to get a 17-year-old to return an email message. This generation thinks email is as contemporary as the carrier pigeon. So how do you determine which method of communication your customers or prospects prefer? Ask! And then note it in your CRM system and use it — you’ll see your customers and prospects are more apt to respond.  

2. Put your contact information in your email signature

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Put your first and last name, phone number, cell phone number, mailing address and email address in your signature. This way, it’s easy for the other person to return the message, or pick up the phone or shoot you a text message. When you customer has to look you up in their address book or previous messages, that’s a hassle, and it reduces your chance of a call back. There is such a thing as too much information: I don’t want all five of your dealership locations pasted across the bottom of your email message, and please do not send a “fun” sound attached to your emails. I’ve heard a motorcycle rev before.

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3. Get commitment for follow up and the return

What do you call a person who says one thing and does another? Hypocrite. Liar. Politician. Think about how you might be able to weave active, public and voluntary commitments into your messages. Speaking on the phone, “Steve, would it be ok if I followed up with you next week?” That’s you asking for permission to follow up and helps ensure that your follow-up message will be well-received because it’s not an intrusion, it’s expected. Or you could ask your customer for a commitment to follow up. “Gary, thank you for your positive comments. Would you be willing to put that in a quick email message so we could spread the good news? Could we have it by Friday for our big meeting?”

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4. Be interesting fast

You literally have nanoseconds to get someone’s attention. Rather than leaving a message that says, “I’m just calling to follow up on our conversation.” There’s really no new information here, and you’re diminishing the importance by saying the word “just.”

Try this: “Steve, Mark Rodgers, Texas Cycles. I did some research on the motorcycle we talked about and found out some very interesting information. Give me a call.” Then give your contact information twice. When giving your phone number, say the numbers singularly and slowly and then on the second go round, for the last four deliver them in pairs, i.e. that’s 2 6 2 7 5 4, ninety-six, thirty-seven).

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5. Use a cliffhanger

The example above it uses the device known as a cliffhanger. Like the price reveal on “Pawn Stars” or the rose ceremony on “The Bachelorette,” this is the compelling, suspenseful, “I gotta know!” moment. In the above example, when you say you have some very interesting information but don’t reveal what exactly it is, that is irresistible for most people.

6. Communication karma

Not to sound all California woo-woo, but the way you treat others is the way you’ll get treated in return. Promptly return messages, and others will be more prompt when returning your calls. In our consulting practice, we respond to all messages within one day, and typically much faster. I’m a zealot about keeping my email inbox clear. I take action on a message, delete a message or file it. I don’t let things go unresolved in my email inbox for days, let alone weeks.

7. Always have a clearly defined next step

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Most salespeople don’t know where they are headed next in their sales progression. If you ask them the objective for their call, their email or their text message, they respond, “I want to sell a bike.” Well, that’s a little aggressive, even for me.

You’re either trying to determine riding preference, purchase time frame, aesthetic desires, etc. Small, clearly defined next steps will help you get your messages returned, and that will speed your sales. Rare is the sale that’s consummated in a text message. So tell them what’s next: “I’ll follow up with you next Friday morning to see what you think about the two-tone color scheme.”

8. It’s not always about selling

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I know. Shocking, isn’t it? Sometimes contact is for purposes other than closing business. Check on a kid’s little league game, a vacation or share something interesting in their industry. Your customers and prospects will be shocked and pleased. This proves you really are interested in creating relationships and that you’re not just someone who talks a good game.

9. Be assertive but not aggressive; with messages, after three, let it be

I don’t mean that you should purge this person from your CRM and never follow up again; rather, if you’re working on an immediate objective, after three, let it be. Just send them a quick and professional message:“Surprised not to have heard back from you as you seemed very interested during our initial conversations. We don’t want to hound you. We simply want you to know we’re here if you need us.” Then, move on to your next prospect, keep them in your system and touch base once a year.  

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The world is awash with communication. When you can cut through the clutter, you stand out in the crowd. Show your prospects how their world is a bit brighter with you in it. They will respond to your messages, and you will earn their business.


An award-winning author, top-rated trainer and founder of Peak Dealership Performance, Mark Rodgers holds a master’s degree in adult education and the National Speakers Association Certified Speaking Professional designation — only 500 people in the world have this coveted recognition. Contact [email protected] to improve your performance.  

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