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You get a good request. It’s a company you’re excited about and now you have a meeting lined up with them.
You go in to the meeting prepared – you’ve already done your research and you’re ready to lend your expertise. You even have a list of questions on the stand-by based on what you’ll hear.
Your meeting went well! You have a pretty good understanding of what they need and both parties are excited about the project.
It’s a hot project and you want to jump on it quick.
You start working on it as fast as you can. You get your vendor lined up, you get all the data together, and you even have virtuals and ball park pricing!
You send it all to your client and now you wait for an answer.
And you wait.
You send a follow up email.
You wait a little longer.
You call and get the voicemail, so you leave a message.
Now you’re worried. You don’t want a hot deal to go cold, but you have a bad feeling it already has.
You keep trying to follow up but to no avail.
It’s official – you’ve been ghosted.
And how do you feel? Frustration, anger, hurt, and plenty of other emotions. You put a lot of time, effort, and maybe even some money into this lead. You thought it was hot, so you put it on the forefront of other things you’re working on and it all led to nothing.
You know that it’s part of the job, but that still doesn’t help with the sting of losing a big opportunity.
Professional ghosting is when a business contact suddenly becomes unresponsive to all forms of communication, without explanation. And like ghosting in the dating world, it can leave the other party feeling confused, let down, disappointed, and often frustrated, right?
No one likes to get ghosted. You hate it when you work hard for a client, submit your findings, and then you wait… and wait… and wait.
Ghosting Your Partners
And guess what, suppliers don’t like getting ghosted either! We would rather know what happened than a distributor suddenly ceasing all communication.
Didn’t get the sale? Tell us – we’d even love feedback if you know why.
Recommended another product instead of us? Just let us know.
It’s better to know, and be told one way or another, rather than the whole project getting left in this unknown void.
And, to be candid, it does affect your reputation if you’re the one doing the ghosting.
15 Tips When Being Ghosted in Sales
Although you can’t help it if someone is ghosting you and you can’t force anyone to respond, here are some tips that may help.
1. No matter what, you’ve got to stay professional
Girl Boss makes a good point here. It’s tempting to complain or call out the person for ghosting you, but you must remember that you’re a professional. You never know who you’re going to work with in the future and it’s best to avoid burning any bridges.
Furthermore, you never want to be branded as the “unprofessional one.”
2. Timing might not be right
The interest was there, but did something change? Or were there other factors you weren’t aware of? Maybe their budget was not as large (or small) as you thought? Maybe they got a new boss? Maybe there’s a spending freeze?
Since no one likes being the bearer of bad news, your prospect might have opted for avoidance rather than telling/disappointing you.
So, consider checking to see if anything has changed or if contacting again in X time would be better.
3. Rethink your strategy
Change your language, your way of contact, or how you’re presenting. There are countless variables in sales, so consider changing an aspect to see if that works.
4. They are human, too
Family emergencies, unexpected illnesses or accidents, or countless other things could have happened. When you follow up, remember that they are human too and you don’t know what they’re dealing with right now.
5. Get the facts
We all know that in a sales role, you often have to operate without a complete picture. However, when a prospect disappears, before you start jumping to conclusions, make sure to get the facts.
Your prospect might be sick, fired, on vacation, have a family emergency, etc. Thus, don’t immediately start jumping to conclusions. See if they need help or if they need space (accepting that “no update yet” update) and maybe take some pressure off your prospect.
6. It might be a sales objection
They may feel that your solution doesn’t fit their needs. Utilize this blog to help uncover if it is a sales objection and how to address it if so.
7. Follow up and follow through
When it comes to working with larger organizations, things can move along at a slower pace. In addition, some people just need a friendly nudge, so don’t be hesitant to follow up a few times before you chalk it up to a loss.
This is when those great sales leader soft skills come into play.
8. Ask a specific question
According to HubSpot, it’s best to do this via voicemail.
If you expect a response, avoid the “just to touch base” call. Instead, give a specific reason why you’re checking in and a specific reason why your prospect should call back.
9. Find another contact
A lot of the deals you work on will have more than one person involved. If your main point of contact is unresponsive, try reaching out to another contact you’ve worked with. However, be cautious and respectful if you decide to take this path.
10. Get face time
It can be easy to fall into the trap of communicating strictly through email, phone, or a messaging app. But when we do that, we give up some of the mojo that helps build relationships of depth and attachment.
Taking the time to meet in-person makes a big impact, so consider doing it not just when being ghosted, but in your general sales process, too.
11. “Should I close your file?” email
Another HubSpot recommendation, but this time through email.
If you aren’t hearing from a client or prospect, try Bryan Kreuzberger’s approach: Send your prospect an email saying that you are proactively closing out your dead opportunities, and want to see if they are in this bucket.
Sending a prospect an email that asks if you should drop their deal may seem counterintuitive, but it’s often a very effective last resort to get a response.
12. How’s your prospect/candidate experience?
Is your process easy and straightforward? Or is it difficult and a hassle?
Are you providing clear communication and deadlines or do your prospects feel lost and confused?
And have you even built a relationship with them? Or do they feel that you’re “a dime a dozen?”
Furthermore, how’s your sales and buying process and transition? Is the transition a nightmare? Is there little to no communication or understanding of the unique needs your client has when you hand the prospect over to your team?
Your client/prospect will immediately get turned off if they feel that there was a bait-and-switch or that they’ve been left by the wayside.
All of these are aspects that you must look at – especially if you’re being ghosted regularly.
13. If they’re working on a deal with a competitor
Customers sometimes feel weird admitting they are talking to your competitors. Prospects feel that they’re “cheating” on their salesperson or talking behind your back. But we all know that any savvy consumer is weighing all their options, so of course your prospects are talking to other vendors.
If your deal seems to be going well and then you get the silent treatment, it may just be that they went with your competition -- even if they never mentioned this “other deal” in the works before.
Thus, see if they decided to go with someone else.
However, if they are still in the deliberation phase, don’t forget to add your value. Your job as a sales professional is to understand what your prospect deems valuable – and find a way to give it to them. You also want to show that you’re more than a “stuff-getter” and “price-chaser” if the deal is worth it – so be sure to define your value.
14. Don’t take it personally
More often than not, ghosting has little to do with you. So, try not to take it personally.
As discussed, ghosting happens due to a variety of reasons – from getting too busy and forgetting about the project to wanting to avoid an awkward conversation.
And if you did make a mistake, try not to dwell on it. You’re human and it happens. Learn from the mistake and move on.
15. Move on
It can be difficult to pinpoint why, exactly, someone will ghost. Sure, it can feel frustrating and disrespectful but as more and more ghosts creep into the workplace, it’s important to stay professional.
Much of our success boils down to how we manage and develop our professional networks and prospects, ghosts included. Don’t hold grudges, keep moving forward, and, when in doubt, don’t burn the bridge.
But be sure to tell your vendor if you are ghosted! You don’t want to ghost them throughout the process, too.
Ghosting is an unfortunate part of this business. Any salesperson worth their salt has been ghosted a few times, but don’t let that be the end. Try these tactics to see if you can still hook that fish. But if you can’t, at least let your partners, vendors, and other relevant parties know.
Kristina Hublar is your friendly neighborhood Marketing Specialist at Bruce Fox, Inc., which means she is the person behind the keyboard for the social media, emails, website, and other marketing efforts. In her spare time, you’ll find her plotting her next road trip, bobbing along to music while crafting, or spending time with loved ones.