Sometimes it's necessary to give a potential customer a little "nudge" to find out what's going on and whether the opportunity is real. There are seven ways to do this, depending upon your best judgment and on the specific situation. Here they are:

1. The Simple Reminder

"I am following up on the quote I sent you. Do you need any additional support in the decision-making process?"

Best used when: You're communicating with professional buyers in formal bidding processes.

2. The Scheduling Challenge

"It's been 30 days since our last meeting and I'm trying to get a feel for what the team here might need to deliver. By any chance, do you have some news about the project? I realize you've got a lot on your plate, but anything you could share would be appreciated."

Best used when: You're selling a project that requires coordination between your organization's resources and the customer's needs.

3. The Personal Plea

"I've got my manager breathing down my neck for a forecast. I was hoping you might have some good news about the ABC project, or could give me some idea where it is right now? Can you help me out with a quick update? I'd really appreciate it."

Best used when: You're using a personal contact to "sell through" to a decision-maker. Note: You must have already established a "we're all in this together and aren't bosses a pain" vibe in the relationship.

4. The ROI Revisit

"I was reviewing the proposal I sent you last month and did a little math. It seems that the ROI we agreed upon breaks down to $1,500 per day. That means you could have increased your measurable productivity by $45,000 by now. What ideas do you have about how you and I could work together to ensure that you and your company begin enjoying these productivity increases soon?"

Best used when: You've worked closely with the customer to establish a strong financial case for purchasing.

5. The End of the Line

"I have not heard from you in 30 days. While I hate to do it, I'm going to close this file. We can resubmit our ideas once you are in a better position to move forward on a solution."

Best used when: Your product is in such high demand that you can afford to lose a potential customer.

6. The Indirect Reminder

Send a humorous greeting card tied to a holiday. This gets your name in front of the prospect in a non-confrontational way. If the buyer calls or emails to thank you for the card, turn the conversation to the stalled sale.

Best used when: You have an already-established relationship with the customer and the purchase is unusual in some way.

7. The Note of Concern

"I haven't heard from you in about a month and my sense was that you're not the kind of person who just leaves people hanging. I'm worried that maybe you've gotten sick or something weird is happening where you work. Is everything OK?

Best used when: You're in the early phases of a long sales cycle and need additional meetings to move the opportunity forward.

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