No Response is a Response

February 09, 2021

“No response is a response.” 

I saw this a few weeks ago and it hit home for me. I wanted to expand on my interpretation of Brian Hamor’s tweet.

The new year seems to have exploded with tons of people starting new sales jobs. If you’re not an inherently objective person, constantly getting the “no responses” can cause a world of frustration borne from your own emotions. Before you start thinking you’re just not good at this new gig, how about we take a minute to evaluate [objectively] who you’re reaching out to.

I’m going to keep this simple, you can fight me on it if you want to:Yes, how you’re reaching out matters , and yes, who you’re reaching out to matters.
Nothing is still a response. No action is still an action and there is knowledge to be gained by receiving nothing in return. If we reduce the myriad of reasons why a prospect doesn’t reply down to the two most likely, we get:

  1. They didn’t see it
  2. They saw it and it held no value worth a response

But why didn’t they respond?! First, evaluate if your actual outreach was so impersonal and mass produced it was like your Aunt who bakes the same thing for every celebration. Everyone hates it, she knows it doesn’t get eaten, but she refuses to ask anyone what they like because one time, a new neighbor of her’s said it was delicious..and the whole family knows that new neighbor took one bite, gave it to the dog, washed the plate and said, “Oh my god Bev, that was delicious, thank you SO much”. Don’t be your Auntie.

We can handle no responses by evaluating what state your prospect is in. You can, and will want to do the evaluation during  different steps in your outreach by using hints from the prospects or company’s LinkedIn, company website, and any other way you can find out more.

From the prospects viewpoint they either have a problem and know about it or don’t know about it; or they don’t have a problem, know they don’t have it or don’t know they don’t have it. Let’s break it down in a way you can use to figure out where your prospect stands and what you should do next.
Prospects viewpoint:

  • A. Have the problem
    • i. known
    • unknown
  • B. Don’t have the problem
    • known
    • Unknown

Prospects State 

A- problem B- no prob
i- know Ai Bi
ii- don’t know Aii Bii

Pick three of your prospects in your outreach right now and use the chart.

Okay Scott, nice chart, what the hell does it mean?

A. Have a problem

Ai is when your prospect has a problem and is aware they are experiencing it. This is the Good Prospect. Arguably this is the best state because your effort can now be spent on discovering what pain the problem is causing.

Aii is when they have an issue but they don’t know about it. This is the Show Me Prospect. Your job at this point is to use your skills to help illuminate the problem. Do your research to make sure the problem exists. Don’t waste time trying to show off what pain they could be having when they don’t even know there’s a problem.

B. Don’t have a problem

Bi is when your prospect doesn’t have a problem and they know they dont have the problem your company solves for. Take a little time, build a report and ask this kind of prospect all kinds of questions. Did they ever have the issue, how are they solving it, do they know of any other folks who are experiencing it? This is the Resource Prospect. Don’t toss them away.

Bii is when your prospect doesn’t have the problem and doesn’t know they dont have it. The Time Waster Prospect. This is the bane of a sales reps existence. We’ve all wasted time with prospects who might look like they fit our icp, so we expend a ton of energy chasing them only to have to help educate them on an issue they weren’t having, and realizing there was no value if they knew about the problem or not. I’m sure you can think of several examples when you wasted time with Bii’s.

  • Ai (have problem, know they have problem) = your job is to find what their pain point(s) is
  • Aii (have problem, don’t know it) = help them realize its a problem
  • Bi (don’t have problem, know it) = use them as a resource to learn more
  • Bii (run away, run away* don’t have problem, don’t know it) = remove them from your outreach, keep an eye open for others you might have inadvertently started reaching out to

*hope some of you got the reference

Remember here that it’s a waste of time to chase a large number of prospects who you don’t know if they are experiencing pain or not. Dedicate a small amount of time to this. Managers and VPs, don’t expect stellar results if you’re asking your reps to go after both ICPs and potential ICPs. Either split up the responsibility for discovery of new ICPs or change your expectations of your team’s success rate.

By understanding the knowledge state your prospect is in, it can help you evaluate why they aren’t responding to your outreach. Using a tool to objectively evaluate your prospects also helps protect your feelings and gives you perspective on the overall quality of the organizations on your lead list. Take the information you discover and talk about it with your team. Clearly, there are tons of variables that can be added to an evaluation. My goal is to provide a simple framework to get you to start objectively thinking about why your prospects are responding, or not, to you.

Seriously, set up your own table and choose measurable variables, and let me know what you find.

TheGovCast is easily one of the top 5 events I’ve participated in. What a great group and fun podcast/live session.

Shine Talent Interviews is an interview series with Founders, CEOs and Executive Leaders hosted by Kristine Shine, Founder and CEO of executive recruiting firm Shine Talent. I joined her show recently and discussed – How to network online?

Busy podcast week for me as I was also a guest on The Modern Selling Podcast w/ Mario Martinez Jr.