• December 17, 2017

How Sales Reps Can Reach An Unreachable Lead

How long does it take you to get ahold of a prospect? 4 emails? 8 calls? A couple of weeks?

Did you know that it takes on average 8 to 12 attempts to reach a prospect by phone, however most salespeople give up after 2 attempts?

Sales takes persistence. But how much do you persist? How many calls would you make to reach a lead you believe could be a huge deal?

I think most salespeople would agree that one of the hardest part of sales is not just dealing with rejection from prospects, but being completely ignored by them. You have to have a thick skin and find a way to keep picking up the phone and trying again…and again…and again.

But, sometimes your persistence pays off. Let me tell you an inspiring story that may help give you some extra motivation to keep after that lead you want to land.

It’s about a friend who was on the receiving end of the prospecting relationship, and the sales rep kept after him for 24 months, until she finally got her foot in the door.

The Initial Contact

About 2 years ago, a friend of mine, who works in Business Systems, received a call from a B2B salesperson looking to sell him a software solution for his company. He rarely answers his phone from an unknown number, but for some crazy reason, this day he did. The stars must have all been aligned that day for this rep, because not only did he take her call, but he agreed to a quick demo to learn more about the product she was selling.

The product she was pitching was solid. She knew it was a great solution for his company. His response was it just wasn’t the right time.

Now this rep quickly assessed my friend and knew although he said timing wasn’t right, she did think her product aligned with him on fit and budget. She was certain he was an ideal prospect. If she waited it out, she thought she could close the deal.

And this is where perseverance comes in.

The Chase

This sales rep knew all the signs to look for if a lead was a good lead or not. She was steadfast that my friend was a great prospect, and timing was the only thing that stood in her way.

After that initial connection and short demo, she was told to “try back in 6 months or so”.

Like any good salesperson, she then immediately put a note in her calendar to call him back 6 months to the date. In those next 6 months, she continued to track his company online to see if there were any big corporate changes that affected their pain points, or any new features in her product that this company could benefit from.

6 months later, to the day, she sent a follow-up email referencing the demo they did, her product’s benefits, and how she still believes it’s an ideal fit for his company. My guess is that she was using a proactive relationship management platform, like Spiro, that helped her stay on top of who to call, and when, so no deals slipped through the cracks.

She asked in her email if the timing had changed for him. Was he ready to re-evaluate?

Dead silence.

Another email. This time highlighting new features in their product that may solve some additional pain points.

No response.

A few phone calls.


For the next 18 months, she continued to reach out every 4 to 6 weeks, but received no feedback.

She was being ghosted.

Now, I’m sure if you’re in sales, you’ve definitely been ghosted, even if you didn’t know there was a term for it. Getting ghosted by a prospect is when things are going well, you’re getting some good vibes, and then they disappear without a trace.

Ghosting drives salespeople so nuts, that they start to convince themselves of some absurd lies as to why a prospect has ghosted them. For instance, thinking… My outbox appears to be working properly, so I’ll just assume that my prospect’s spam filter is just not letting my emails in. But they can’t really mean to be blocking me, so maybe I should contact their IT department to ask?”

But in reality, you are most likely getting ignored because it’s a timing, fit, or budget issue. Personally, I’d rather get a definite “No” from a prospect than radio silence. Silence leaves a door open. And this particular sales rep saw that door and wasn’t going to let it shut unless it was slammed in her face.

She tried everything during this ghosting period to reach my friend, including:

  • The “lost email” ploy, where you say “hey, my email must have got lost in your inbox…”
  • A guilt-inducing voicemail that mentions your manager breathing down your neck.
  • Using a “negative close” tone to push the onus back on them to get in touch.

She was determined to push past the silence and get either a yes or a no from this prospect.

And that’s when she came up with a brilliant idea. Her way to reach the unreachable lead.

The Catch That Worked

Two years after that initial contact, my Business Systems friend received a package on his desk. It was a hard copy sports book, with a handwritten note inside from this persistent sales rep saying that she thought he may enjoy this.

Now, what did this book about Vince Lombardi have to do with the SaaS she was hoping to sell to this company? Absolutely nothing. But it was just one more creative way to get noticed.

He put the book aside on his already cluttered desk and went off to his next meeting.

The following morning he received an email from this rep. She had the shipment of the book tracked, so was alerted when it was delivered. This way, she was able to follow-up with a note reference the book’s confirmed arrival.

She also included an ask to get a meeting on his calendar.

This time, he responded. Yes, he’d take the meeting, and even pulled in two other key decision makers that would possibly benefit from her product.

He figured, hey, if she was going to believe strongly enough that her product was right for them, and he was worth the effort, then maybe she knew more than him… Maybe the timing, fit and budget finally were right.

So, did she close the deal?

The meeting was set, all attended, and it looks like there is a very promising opportunity in her pipeline for upwards of $150,000.

Going to show that no prospect is unreachable, and persistence in sales does pay off.