One of the biggest reasons why professionals avoid reaching out to their contacts is the fear of rejection. The dreaded lack of response to an email or voice message.
“I don’t want to come across too pushy or salesy” is one of the more popular reasons.
And when some of those emails fail to generate a reply in a timely manner, the imagination starts to take over.
“They don’t want to work with me.”
“I probably turned them off from my email.”
“I knew I wasn’t good at business development!”
What if most non-responses had nothing to do with you? Think about it for a moment. Many of your contacts and prospective clients have incredibly busy lives. They receive hundreds of emails a day. Their days are jammed up with Zoom meetings, deadlines, and unexpected company fires to put out. Throw Covid into the mix where they are dealing with the added stresses of working from home and you have the perfect recipe for non-responders.
So how do you deal with that? Simple. Be patient and do not give up on your contacts or yourself.
One of my prospective clients taught me an invaluable lesson a few years ago. He was a strong prospect who I had known for a couple of years. I reached out to him via email and voice message several times over a 4-month stretch of time. I received no responses from him. I grew concerned and my imagination started to take over. “Did I say something wrong?” “Was I being too pushy?” “Does he simply not want to interact with me anymore?”
Then one day he finally replied. He was apologetic and said:
“Doug, you would not believe my life over the past 4 months. We recently lost our nanny and I am having to take on a bigger role as stay-at-home-dad for our three kids. I threw my back out last month and have been horizontal for the past 3 weeks. I have a major investigation I am working on, and I am trying to run a global investigations practice for the firm. Thank you for being patient with me”.
This was an important reminder that I will never forget. This had nothing to do with me and everything to do with him.
Every time you reach out to someone and do not hear back from them, remind yourself one thing - It's not you. It's them. You might not be at the top of their priority list at that moment and that is okay.
Outreach is about timing. Do not give up on your prospects. Give them some space yet check back in with them from time to time. Often, they will thank you for not giving up on them.
What happened to my prospective client who took 4 months to reply to me, you ask?
He turned into a great client and friend!