The “Easy Out”

I’ve used a technique that I call the “easy out” for some time. It’s handy when you’re selling someone something and they’re are ignoring you. It could be an investor you’re trying to close, or a customer that you’re trying to sell something to.

Once you’ve tried several emails with no response, I always recommend a phone call or alternate medium. You’ll probably reach their voice mail if you call, but that’s fine. You can simply say “I’ve sent you several emails, and I just wanted to be sure you were getting them. I’ll send you another one right now, please reply to let me know you’ve received it.” If you have been emailing, try tweeting. Never assume that someone is intentionally ignoring you if you’re only using one channel. You might be getting caught in a spam or other filter. Of course, you should also let some time pass because not everyone uses out-of-office auto-responses when they go on vacation.

Once you’re pretty sure you’re being ignored (after following the above advice and trying other channels), you should realize that your chances of “getting the sale” are probably pretty slim. It’s in these cases where the “easy out” is probably your best bet.

You can send an email that says something like “It’s been some time and after several attempts, I haven’t received a response from you about my proposal. I realize this may not be a fit for you, but I was hoping you could just let me know for sure with a quick reply so that I can cross you off my list.”

This is a very easy out for the recipient. They can quickly reply “Yes, not a fit for now” and be done with the awkwardness. Some people just need this easy out – usually they’re conflict avoiders who have a hard time saying no.

Magically, you’ll find that providing the easy out sometimes triggers action. Psychologically, it feels like a last chance to the recipient. I’ve noticed that the easy out is generally effective at separating the “maybes” into “No” and “I really am interested – I’ve just been busy.” Most people won’t ignore the easy out (if they receive the message), and their reaction can be telling of their true intentions.

Have you used this technique? How does it work for you? I’ve had good luck with it, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on the “easy out” too.

file under: SpringStage, Startups