Sometimes a commitment is not really a commitment.

Some deals can be closed in one call.

Other more complex arrangements involving multiple decision makers and complex business requirements and terms can take many meetings to close.

In such sales, it is critical to get a meaningful next step committed at the end of your sales call.

A customer of mine recently wrote me with such a dilemma…

I had an initial sales meeting with two prospects.  Both meetings went as well as I could have hoped. I asked for a commitment to have a follow-up meeting in two weeks. Neither was willing to nail down an exact date. They committed to follow up with me in two weeks, that was six weeks ago.  I sent them follow-up emails at 3 and 5 weeks, but no replies. What do I do?

I am planning my next follow-ups as phone calls, but am torn about tone.  I want to avoid ‘looking desperate’ yet want to pursue the leads.  I’m also debating if their actions so far indicate they simply aren’t worth further time hard for me to tell at this point given my relative lack of experience in sales.

-Paul Silva

A commitment to follow-up in two weeks, is really no commitment at all. It is an avoidance tactic.

When someone tells you everything you want to hear, that they like your product, they need it, no one else does it, and they want to work with you, BUT they can’t commit to a next step for another two weeks, something is wrong (and in Paul’s email, he shared with me that they told him all these things).

What you need to do, is repeat the want, they need, and the desire that they share with you and use it as leverage to get a firm commitment. Stay after them. Don’t leave a meeting like this with just the warm fuzzy feeling that they liked you a lot.

You can’t take warm and fuzzy feelings to the bank.

You must challenge people and remind them of the all the reasons they told you about as why they want to do business with you. If those are reasons are honest and true, they should want to take the next step now. And you must gently, but persistently remind them of this.

Their want, pains, and desires are your leverage to move the sale forward with real commitments.

At this point what Paul can do is follow-up and remind them of why they told him they want to work with him. That should be his primary message in his calls and voicemail messages (and in this case I would leave such messages since these are active prospects for him).

The fact that he is pursuing, puts him at a disadvantage. He can keep from looking too desperate however by keeping the focus on the prospects and their wants and pains that he uncovered using the Persuasive Questioning Techniques that he has learned from yours truly.

Sell with Pride,

Shameless Shamus Brown

P.S. Getting a firm commitment is essential if you want to avoid your prospects from going dark on you like this. Discover how to use your prospect’s personal emotions as leverage for commitments with the Persuasive Selling Skills Audio Program.