There’s something strange in the neighbourhood. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!
What’s causing the epidemic of ghosting in sales?
There was a time when No just meant No. But now No is often replaced with interminable silence.
Business owners are increasingly reporting this to us as one of their biggest frustrations in selling.
You’re a business leader working hard to deliver real value for your clients. It’s a tough market.
You find someone who is keen to progress conversations and you start to dream about the day a sale is confirmed.
Then….nothing. Just silence. Emails go unanswered.
All the preparation, advice and emotional energy you’ve put into nurturing that client is wasted. Or is it…The agony is not knowing isn’t it?
No thank you
Nobody likes to lose a sale. But it’s made much easier if someone politely tells you no thanks and explains why.
There could be all sorts of reasons ranging from budget constraints, change of strategy or even job changes.
Sometimes you’re simply not the best equipped or best value supplier.
But it’s really helpful to know isn’t it? Firstly, it gives you closure and after briefly cursing your bad luck you can focus on the next opportunity. It’s bad news but now 100% of your energy goes into the next big thing.
And feedback is a gift. Even a couple of sentences explaining why the client thought someone else was better suited than you helps you refine how you pitch next time.
It’s not me, it’s you
Your natural reaction when being ghosted by a customer might be to think you’ve done something wrong. Well maybe not.
Sadly, feedback we receive from business owners suggests ghosting in sales is now an occupational hazard. If you’re regularly managing a sales pipeline the likelihood is at some point a prospect will disappear on you.
But that doesn’t mean you’re at fault.
If, like us, you think it’s just bad manners not to follow up as agreed then it’s not you that’s being discourteous.
Recognising that and having the resilience to refocus on the next deal can help you bounce back more quickly and effectively.
But what practical steps can we take to address ghosting in sales and minimise the likelihood of it?
Five steps you can take to reduce ghosting in sales
1. Share prices on your website
This is a controversial one. You mean people can see what I charge? What about my competitors undercutting me?
Clearly this varies according to industry and product type. But the better a client understands what they get from you – and at what price – the less chance there is of them changing their minds late in the sale process.
Yes, some people will take one look at your pricing and not get in touch. But maybe they weren’t your ideal client anyway.
Most buyers are conducting research well before you know who they are so if your materials help them early in that process you have more chance of success.
Put simply, creating a customer journey that’s simple and engaging – and tracking data if you have it – is transformational.
2. Create content guides
This follows on from what you share on your website.
Once you’re in touch with a prospect, the more you can help them understand you and how you work, the better.
Emailing them a PDF guide explaining “How we work” or “How client X benefitted from our service” helps keep them emotionally invested in you and the buying process.
If you’re in a complex selling role with numerous decision points it also helps you stay front of mind and ensures consistent messaging across all touch points.
3. Charge for your Discovery call
Whoa! This one is controversial too.
Again, whether you try it will depend on the type of buyer you have, the size of your contracts and so on.
It’s less likely to be effective in a key account relationship where just a small number of professional buyers can shape the success of your business.
But we know of organisations who do this. And they make sure the value given in that call is worth it.
Other businesses charge upfront but refund once you attend – a handy solution to “no-shows”
What you’re doing is emphasising that your time is valuable. It’s valuable to you and also to the client, who gets quality advice for a relatively small fee and it helps to reduce ghosting in sales.
4. Use different touchpoints
This can help at two levels. Firstly, mapping out the decision-makers in your potential customer gives you more ways of continuing the conversation.
If you have just one contact and that person leaves, moves, gets promoted… your deal is dead.
Whereas having a network of contacts in different teams allows you to keep conversations live and relevant.
Different touchpoints can also give you alternative ways of reaching decision-makers. Sometimes your email isn’t answered because the buyer’s inbox is just rammed. It’s not you, it’s them.
Commenting on their company’s latest post on Facebook, or checking in on LinkedIn can be a way of staying front of mind through other platforms.
5. Schedule your next meeting
This can be especially helpful if you’ve got far enough in the relationship to submit a quote.
Scheduling a time to discuss what you’ve proposed gives you both the opportunity to make sure the proposal is clear. Maybe there are unanswered questions.
It also gives you some initial feedback, even if it’s ahead of the final decision date.
That way if you don’t get the business (or worse, get ghosted) you have some indication from that chat of what worked and what didn’t in your proposal.
If all else fails: Inertia-busting questions
If you’ve been ghosted so long that you think there’s limited chance of progress you can try inertia-busting questions.
Of course, these can end either in success or glorious failure! But what’s to be lost at this point?
“Hi, I guess this project is now dead. Should we draw a line under it?” can sometimes provide unexpectedly positive results.
“What do I need to do differently to breathe life into this initiative?” is another way of asking a similar question.
The exact form of words is up to you, but you’re poking the decision-maker to reflect on whether the project is actually dead or not… and occasionally your proposal will rise from the flames like a phoenix. Happy days.
Ghosting in sales is ever so frustrating, so try these tips and see where it gets you!
And if you still need more support get in touch.