Why Prospects Aren’t Returning Your Calls and 4 Ways To Change That

by Don F Perkins

Happy Face

Excitement & Enthusiasm

“Oh good! I’ve been waiting for you to call me!”


That’s what we all hope our prospects are thinking when we contact them, right?  Yet for many salespeople, that’s rarely the case. In fact, quite the opposite.

Why? Because prospects have been trained to cringe when they see a call coming in from the dreaded salesperson. How can we fix that?



1. Stop Wasting The Customer’s Time

Consider this call I get from a well-meaning charity every year:

“Hello Mr Perkins, how are you this evening? First off, we want to thank you for your support last year. (which BTW, I did not) We hope you will continue to support us again this year. Is there any way you can give more than last year?”

Or these other fine examples of value absent messages and emails:

“Hi Don, This is Tito from GBFU. I just wanted to touch base with you on the proposal I gave you last week. I was wondering if you had a chance to read it. Give me a call please at 000-121-1212. Thanks.”

“Hello valued customer: I just wanted to follow up to see if you received my last email? In case you did not, I’ve included it below. Let me know if you’d like to jump on a quick 10-15 minute call to discuss.”


Scared face

So why do customers dread getting calls from salespeople? Um, I don’t know… Could it be that we have not given them any reason to want to hear from us? Could it be that they have learned that there’s usually little or no value present when talking with most sales people? Could it be they are right to be clawing their own eyes out when we call?


2. Earn a Yes By Adding Value

I had a great chat with an associate recently who was looking for advice about sales success. One of the biggest things we discussed was that:

Salespeople are often way too busy thinking about closing a sale to be really effective.

The reality is that in a complex sales environment, most sales eventually close weeks or months later as a result of hard work, perseverance and many small “closes” earned over time by presenting value to a prospect.

For example: The first time a sales person reaches out to a prospect, what are the oddsthumbs up they will close a deal on the first call? Very low. However, if they present enough value, they could easily earn a subsequent appointment with that prospect. Once they earn that appointment, then if they build rapport, build trust, discover all the necessary details needed, and present enough value they might earn a request for a proposal from that prospect, Etc…

All these little yes’s are a confirmation that things are headed in the right direction and should eventually result in a win. Too often though, salespeople go in selling from the first contact. It’s like we get so excited that we forget why we are really there: to provide value and earn the right to progress to the next step in the buying process. It’s no wonder prospects are not anxious to hear from salespeople!

Too often, salespeople go in selling from the first contact. We forget why we are there: To provide value and earn the right to progress to the next step in the buying process.

3. You Be The Change

maybeThis is a huge differentiator! How do you provide value and earn the next “yes?” What if, before any call or visit to a prospect, we prepared a valuable message; a new idea that would be relevant and interesting to the prospect?

Have you ever been contacted by a salesperson, they’ve given you a proposal but you still haven’t bought yet? Why is that? It’s quite possible that they simply haven’t provided enough value to tip the scales and make you decide that it’s time to buy.

Until they do, the answer is “maybe.” Is this a good time for them to “check in” with you? Hell NO! Unless they are calling to provide more value, you will still be stuck in the same point of indecision because in your mind, nothing has changed. On the other hand, what if they offer some new idea, or new reason for you to step toward making a decision?

Instead of “checking in,” what if XYZ salesperson confirmed that she was listening to my concerns, thinking about the value I need and thought of a way to help me fill in the gaps in my decision making process?

For example: “Hi Don, thanks for helping me understand how your sealing operation in Dallas works. As you said, there is a lot at stake with the new contracts you guys have won recently. One of the concerns that ACME Packaging had was the tricky integration between their sealing and slitting systems. We just finished installing the XYZ connector for ACME last month and Larry said he would be happy to talk with you about how seamlessly the change came through over a weekend. If you want to give Larry a call, his number is: 444-555-6666.”


4. The Value Chainvalue chain

I was with a prospect recently in his office for about and hour and a half. During that time, he received no less than 15 meaningless drivel calls from deadbeat salespeople. Every time the phone rang, he rolled his eyes and deleted the message. It was very instructive.

Prospects are so sick of value-less contact scripts from lazy salespeople. They are demanding greater value from us and holding their time and attention hostage until we meet their demands.

Every contact with a prospect is a chance for you to add another link to the value chain. Unless you give prospects a reason to care that you are calling, emailing or visiting, you are just forging a disconnect and furthering the stigma that all salespeople have nothing meaningful to say.

My customer gave me a valuable gift that day: A whole new perspective on sales prospecting. Before you pick up the phone or visit another client, pause and make sure you have something valuable to bring them. There’s really no point in contacting them until you do.


Your Turn: How do you provide value every time you contact a prospect?

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  1. #1 by The Irreverent Sales Girl on July 1, 2013 - 2:53 am

    Oh, there is SO much good stuff here. My last cold-calling campaign got 30% positive response in LESS THAN FOUR HOURS.


    Because of these great techniques.

    Read them. They are spot-on.

    BOTTOM LINE: If you don’t have a REAL reason to call on someone (that matters to THEM), don’t call on them.


    Love your success UP!

    The Irreverent Sales Girl

  2. #2 by Leanne Hoagland-Smith on July 13, 2013 - 11:32 am

    Today’s prospects or potential customers are far busy than ever before. Your call must differentiate you from everyone else. These tips are great to support that differentiation.

    Leanne Hoagland-Smith

    • #3 by Don F Perkins on July 13, 2013 - 3:29 pm

      Yes. This raises sales job difficulty to a whole new level. Managers need to find ways to build their reps capabilities to match. Wow. I think I just found an opportunity!

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