The most important signal you should look for in prospects

I've spent many hours working around the clock, putting together proposals for prospective clients I believed may be interested in what I had to provide.

Similarly, I see investment advisors spend weeks of their entire team's time putting together an RFP or proposal, excited about the large opportunity they may be able to win for their organization or practice.

Sometimes, all this hard work ends up working in our favor, and all the writing, data analysis, fee explanations, and Powerpoint design work results in a great next step or an actual close.

But many times, it is the most disappointing experience to be faced with: The prospect doesn't even show up, already selected someone else, or the meeting gets cancelled last minute.

Throughout this process, I have found there is one overarching signal to look for in the sales process to ensure your time is not being wasted.  That your hours and hours of hard work are actually going to be carefully considered by the prospect, and the time your team is dedicating to this project will be worth putting other assignments on hold.

What is this signal?

I call it the email response signal. 

When was the last time you were not interested in a product or service, but in order to not break the heart of your salesperson, you told them to send you more information?  It's human nature to feel sorry for a salesperson trying so hard, and to almost lead them along, even if you have no interest in working with them.

So I have found that if I ever write a follow up email to the prospect, if they don't write me back, even with a simple "thank you", I know I have lost them.  I don't even begin working on the proposal unless I get a response back to my original email.

So try it.  Next time you go on a prospect meeting, or a meeting with an intermediary, write them a long email, and thank them for their time.  If they don't write back "Thank you" or "I look forward to receiving the proposal", they are absolutely not interested. 

If you don't agree with me on this, or have had a different experience, please let me know, and share your comments!