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START: MARK EVANS

When a hot lead goes cold Add to ...

Here's a frustrating scenario: Your pursuit of a customer is looking really good. The potential client is interested and excited about your product or service, your prices seem attractive, and it looks like only a matter of time before you'll seal a deal.

Then, everything goes topsy-turvy. The potential customer puts on the brakes, giving you no real reason. They stop answering your e-mails or telephone calls so it is impossible to get a sense of what went wrong.

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It is a classic case of a hot lead going cold.

What do you do? How can you resurrect a situation that looked so good before it went off the rails?

Perhaps the best approach is to be patient. It's tough. When a deal is within your grasp, it can be frustrating to see it slip through your fingers. But if you can't learn why it didn't proceed, you may have to take a deep breath and wait it out

It might be the customer's fault for not following through, rather than anything you have done. Perhaps the client had another more urgent issue to deal with or a corporate priority emerged that had to be addressed. Maybe another competing supplier appeared on the scene, and the customer decided to take more time to consider the options. Or maybe the client just was not ready to pull the trigger.

Without any more insight, it is difficult to know what to do. But the worst move would be to force the situation. While it can be tempting to try to make something happen, that can often backfire by making the potential customer feel pressured or uncomfortable. In the end, it could thwart a potential deal down the road.

In many situations, sitting tight and biding your time is the only and best option. It can be difficult to accept but doing nothing may be the most effective approach.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.

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