Sales Coach, Les Lent, shares insights on why ghosting by sales prospects happens and how to avoid it

Ghosting is a relatively new term for an old sales problem. The Urban Dictionary defines “ghosting” as the practice of ending a relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

Connecting or reconnecting with prospective customers throughout the sales cycle can be incredibly frustrating for salespeople. Even when responding to inbound marketing leads! And, while technology has given us more methods of reaching prospects (Facebook, LinkedIn, SMS, etc.), getting prospects to respond seems more challenging then ever. Let’s face it, most people don’t want to be bothered by salespeople, and quite frankly it’s easier to ignore someone than to tell them to go away or say, “I’m not interested.” The new normal is, “No response, is my response.”

Here’s the most common reasons you aren’t getting a response.

No perceived value

Reaching out to people with no clear purpose or value is a sure-fire way to get yourself ghosted. Even with prospects who have expressed an interest and need for your product or service will be turned off by “I’m just checking in…” or “I’m just following up…” or “I haven’t heard from you in a while…” or “Are you still interested in…?” The only thing less attractive than messages like these are messages offering discounts for a limited time if they act now! Think about it, it’s the end of the month, or quarter and suddenly the price is better than it was earlier in the sales cycle. Huh. I’m amazed at how often I see this strategy used by even large marque companies. Like the customer can’t see this as a transparent act of desperation. By the way, lowering price, in the absence of justification, to get someone’s attention is a quick way to erode trust. Tricks like this are akin to telling buyers “My first price wasn’t my best price.”

You’ve been dealing with the wrong person

If your product or service is complex or has a significant impact on your prospect’s business, it’s very likely that there are multiple decision-makers in their buying process. This is especially true in B2B sales. Purchasing decisions are rarely made in a vacuum, and the days of the single decision-maker are long behind us. If they are early in their buying process you could likely be speaking to an information gatherer whose sole purpose is to get comparative information for a future purchase. Once they have the information, they don’t need to engage with you anymore.

You didn’t close the next step

One of the most frequently missed steps in the sales process is gaining agreement on the next step, date, and time. Every call should end with a next step or action item. In fact, as part of your pre-call preparation process you should know what the logical next step(s) should be.

They’re dealing with something more important than you

This is a tough one, but even your best prospects probably have things to do that are more important to them than buying your stuff. Said another way, dealing with you, the sales professional, is one of many tasks and responsibilities they have. They have other responsibilities, other obligations and, just like you, they have a lot going on—shift happens. Patience, professionalism, and persistence are the key ingredients here.

They should have never been in your pipeline to begin with!

Not every inbound lead is a good fit for your product, and just because you haven’t disqualified them as a viable prospect doesn’t mean they haven’t!

Coming back from the dead

  • Always have a clear purpose to your call and something of value to share with your prospects.
  • Dig deep early in the discovery process to find out where they are in their buying and discovery process, what their process looks like, and who else is involved and impacted by these types of purchasing decisions.
  • Be clear before the call on what the likely next step(s) are and gain agreement on them at the end of every call!
  • Understand it’s not always about you, be patient, and empathetic. This is a lot easier when you have discovered what your prospect’s roles and responsibilities are early in the sales cycle. Understanding your prospect’s true timeline early in the discovery process will help establish when you need to reconnect with them and when they need to make decisions.
  • If someone in your prospecting funnel or opportunity pipeline isn’t responding, after you’ve made numerous attempts to engage in a professional manner by demonstrating value, they’ve likely moved on. You should too.