“What should we do if our sales prospect stops talking to us after we deliver the quote?”

Ah, the prospect that “goes dark.”

Also known as “ghosting,” going dark is when someone ends a relationship by suddenly and inexplicably cutting off all communication.

The truth is, potential print buyers drop out at various places in the sales process. However, when it happens after the quote is delivered, it leads the printer to believe it’s because their prices are too high.

In my experience, price is RARELY the reason a prospect stops talking to you.

After all, a prospect who legitimately is progressing through the sales steps is going to ask for clarification or will make a counteroffer if price is the issue.

The sales prospect who stops interacting with you, however, probably dropped out of the process long before the quote was delivered.

Here are the three top reasons prospects go quiet on printers:

  1. They don’t like you.
  2. You confused them.
  3. They never intended to do business with you.

There are many variations:

  1. You gave them too many options. (Confused)
  2. They feel insecure about their ability to proceed. (Confused)
  3. They are embarrassed about something. (Confused)
  4. You don’t communicate well, don’t listen, or insist on using your preferred methods of communication rather than theirs. (Don’t like you)
  5. You consistently have gotten things wrong, possibly the details in the print quote. (Don’t like you)
  6. Someone in your organization rubbed them the wrong way. (Don’t like you)
  7. They found out something negative about you, maybe from another customer, competitor or online. (Don’t like you)
  8. The prospect was on a fact-finding expedition that was never going to end with a purchase order. (Never intended)
  9. The print buyer used your quote to beat down the price on their preferred provider. (Never intended)
  10. They don’t have a clear timeline to complete the project. (Never intended)

What can you do if a prospect goes silent after the quote is delivered?

  • Train printing salespeople in modern, 21st-century selling techniques.
  • Design a better format and process for the actual delivery of printing quotes.
  • Fix the gaps in your sales process.
  • Be professional in all areas of writing, including emails, messages, and texts. Always re-read before hitting send.
  • Qualify prospects better.
  • Define project objectives and timeline.
  • Have a sales manager or owner attend sales presentations.
  • Audit your online reputation.
  • Hire someone to anonymously go through your buying process.
  • Train all employees who come in contact with customers and prospects.
  • Create a company culture where employees are proud and excited to come to work.
  • Look at how the owner and top managers view prospects and customers and see if they are role modeling negative behavior.

Finally, although it is uncomfortable, ASK your prospect why they’re unresponsive.

As you know, I am a big fan of using the customer’s own feedback rather than making assumptions.

To prompt feedback from a prospect who is not communicating:

  • Email a survey.
  • Have a third-party service make a phone call.
  • Ask “what can we do better?”
  • Send a letter with a stamped postcard asking for feedback.
  • Offer to meet with their buying team to clarify issues that weren’t resolved to their satisfaction.
  • Introduce them to a different sales rep in your organization.
  • Invite them to an open house or event.
  • Go to LinkedIn and see if your prospect still works for the buying organization.
  • Ask if there’s anyone else on their buying team who should be included next time.
  • Ask them, ”What is the one thing you wish your current print provider would do better?”

When you get feedback from such a prospect: log it, share it with your team, problem solve around it, and learn from it!

I detail the customer query process in my post “How to Build a Winning Sales Process Around Customer Data:”

“If testing shows we are losing a sale at a certain point in the sales process, it’s important to pinpoint that exact place and add extra steps so the prospect is comfortable moving ahead.”

Going dark is a signal for you to improve your sales process.

View this as an opportunity!

P.S. Is there a time when a prospect or print customer stopped answering your calls or emails? Leave a comment below and tell me how you handled it. We can all learn from each other to improve the sales process!

Sandy Hubbard helps printers take their businesses to the next level.  She builds customized business growth programs that can be sustained over the long haul, with affordable tools and your own people…without stress!

Read more from Sandy here.


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