You've been ghosted by a prospective customer, now what?

GhostedGhosting: the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

No, we haven’t decided to start dishing out relationship advice. Ghosting may be most commonly associated with dating, but recently it seems prospective customers are taking a similar approach when dealing with salespeople.

Are you being ghosted?

Here’s how it unfolds; a prospective customer contacts you and wants to meet to discuss your product/solution. You’re excited, and so you should be, it’s not every day you receive an inbound lead and this prospect is already asking for a meeting. Good signs indeed.

You do your research, prep for your meeting, it all goes well. The communication flows and you have a successful dialogue around their problem and your solution/product. You even managed to secure a follow up meeting in a week’s time to present your solution based on the requirements you’ve discussed.

A week later you’re back in with the customer. You present and they confirm the solution is the right one for them. You leave the meeting on a high, knowing you’ve done everything right, and then … nothing, nada, rien!

You email them to thank them for the meeting and reiterate in writing what was discussed and agreed – nothing.

You call them and leave a voicemail. Then a few days later call to leave another. Still nothing.

You try contacting them via LinkedIn, still no response, none-whatsoever.

By this point, you are aware that you seem desperate and start to wonder if you did or said something wrong. Perhaps you didn’t explain your proposal clearly enough? Perhaps you were too expensive? Perhaps you were being used in a ‘three quotes required’ process and all the while they were going to go with their incumbent supplier. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

The problem with or at least being perceived to be desperate, is that it puts people off. It’s like dating (not that I can remember!), when you constantly try to contact someone and they ignore you. In fact, the more they ignore you, the more desperate you become. You lose confidence and begin to seem less appealing.

What to do when you find yourself suddenly ghosted

Let’s start by rewinding the clock and asking yourself if;

  • You conducted the right amount of research before you even met with the customer?
  • Your meeting was with the right person or people and at the right time?
  • You provided real value to the customer from the start?
  • You were curious and asked searching questions (and listened) so that you really understood their situation?
  • You mapped out the decision makers and influencers within the buying process for this sales opportunity and understood their different buying motivators and personality types?
  • You presented a value driven, quantifiable solution to meet their requirements?
  • You answered all of their questions or agreed to obtain answers to them?
  • There were agreed ‘next steps’ with actions for both parties?

Knowing when it’s time to move on

If you completed all of the above and have still found yourself ghosted, then here is what I recommend. Start dating again! Start engaging with new prospects and build your confidence back up.

At the same time, keep a close eye on the company’s website and any industry news for anything that might affect the solution you put forward. Review your solution with fresh eyes and think about any new product/solution offerings – perhaps there are changes which mean you can legitimately make contact with the prospective customer. If not, then it’s time to move on.

Engaging with new prospects

Why should you start engaging with other prospects and ‘forget’ this one? Well, because you have done everything you can, and anything you do now may not move you forward but may instead make you seem more unattractive, therefore moving you backwards. Now is the time to have confidence in your ability and the confidence that this sales opportunity is following the course of due process within the customers’ business.

This very thing happened to me recently. I found myself ghosted for over 4 weeks, but I knew after asking myself the above questions and reviewing the process, that my colleague and I had done everything right. I was sure of it. So I let lie and moved on to other sales opportunities.

And then came the phone call.

Finally the prospective customer had returned my call. They let me know things had been terribly busy ‘with not a moment to breathe’ and after speaking with each of the internal stakeholders/decision makers, they were now ready to proceed. The deal was won!

It of course doesn’t always have a great result but when it does, I am reminded of the fact that by following best practice and having the confidence to let things take their natural course, it will usually lead to the most successful outcome and if it doesn’t, well, it’s time to reflect on the process, learn what you can and move on.

Either way, I will keep dating of course!

Nick Washington-Jones, Managing Director, TACK UK

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