When Prospects Become Ghosts: Why It Happens & What Do To About It
Halloween is known for its spooky, supernatural connotations and billions of people buy into the idea of ghosts and ghouls – only in October, though. However, salespeople tend to find themselves dealing with ghosts no matter what time of year it is. Unsure of if you have encountered “ghosts”?
Well, does this seem familiar…
You’ve made two or three calls to your client and have taken the time to qualify them through building rapport – you now know that they have three cats and they dream of travelling to Santorini.
You’ve identified all their pain points, filled in all the gaps with your solutions and provided an estimated projection of success post-engagement with your product/ service.
You are now ready to dish out the purchase order and you get in contact with them to notify them but a day passes, then a week, and then 3 months – and you have not heard back from them.
Long story short – you have been ghosted.
WHY GHOSTING HAPPENS
Ghosting happens later on in the prospecting activity – it is different from being ignored from the very beginning. It usually transpires after a few calls/emails and when things seem like they are reaching its peak (just as you are about to close the deal). When things are going so well, why would you be ghosted?
• Planning Cycles: The timing isn’t right
Depending on the industry your clientele are in as well as the nature of your business, sales cycles can go on for weeks; sometimes months. During this time, your clients’ needs might change, your competitors might approach them while you are also actively engaging them in the deal or the decision-makers might decide that “it isn’t the right time” for them to fork out money for your product/service. This is not uncommon – and is something you can take advantage of for a while. For example, sending follow-up emails or texts every 2 to 3 months to check in on them or general greetings on every important date (i.e. public holidays, celebrations, their birthday) will keep you in their subconscious. This will make you the first person they think of should they feel like it’s finally “the right time”.
• Budget Changes
With how volatile economic headwinds are, your clients’ budget might change and their budget margins might be too small to accommodate your services. From suddenly being to afford your products/services plus more to not being able to even afford the most basic of packages – it’s a big blow for you (and for them, to be honest). With this being a lose-lose situation, is there a way to salvage the deal? Of course! Change your strategy: sell to target only one or two pain points (this will bring down costs significantly and you will be able to secure a smaller deal – which is better than no deal!).
• The person in charge resigns/ is on leave/ etc etc
If you are a seasoned salesperson, you will know the varying different reasons for not being able to reach your point of contact. When this happens, it can be frustrating for you and it can be frustrating for the middle person (the PA, receptionist and so on). The simple solution for people who are on leave (medical or otherwise) is to ask when they would be back at work. A lot of the time, people have automated emails to respond to enquiries with the dates they would be away. If the person in charge has resigned, establish a connection with the new key decision-maker and compile a quick brief to present for them to get caught up on what has already been agreed and to explore new needs or pain points.
• You lose track of them in your sales funnel
In longer sales cycles, it is difficult to stay up-to-date on the details of the current deal that is on the table. Meanwhile, businesses with shorter sales cycles tend to have more on their plate – more leads, more prospects, more customers, more details to track. This results in slow follow-ups, mistakes in details, unprofessional prospect handling and ultimately, the loss of your sales deal. Unlike the previous 3 reasons for being ghosted, this can be avoided and is completely in your hands. Ensuring you have the right systems in place to handle volume (a database) or long durations (follow-up alerts) will allow you to reduce the chances of being ghosted because of something you can control.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CLIENTS GHOST YOU
• Follow up
Salespeople need to follow up throughout the entire deal process: from the lead generation stage to prospecting to deal closure – and this is true even when they do not respond to anything you have communicated. If your point of contact is still unreachable – try getting to his/her office neighbour. Connect with someone of the same position or decision making power as your initial product champion via a simple email explaining the situation (both the state of the deal and the communication issue you are facing) and asking for closure on the situation. And, if that does not work…
• Move on
Some clients simply want to avoid saying “no” and outright rejecting you because they feel guilty (a side-effect of good rapport!). Sure, being ghosted isn’t ideal – most salespeople would prefer an outright “no” so they have a clear sign that it’s time to move on – but for the prospect, they are lessening their short term emotional burden. It is also sometimes the “easy way out” – it’s not difficult to block or click on “report as spam” on all platforms of communication these days. How long is long enough when it comes to being ghosted? It’s really hard to say. Some prospects come back after a few years. The safe way: don’t remove them from your receiver list and send them seasonal greetings every once in a while.
HOW TO AVOID BEING GHOSTED IN THE FIRST PLACE
• Improve your sales pitch: Stop selling to fill obvious gap solutions
Start identifying the gaps for them. Many good sales pitches are born from understanding and identifying the clients’ needs through effective listening, good questioning and a lot of research. In doing so, you can shape how big or small the gap is and thus, will allow yourself the room to upsell or cross-sell as necessary. You will also be able to influence the amount of urgency created during the pitch. Back up your pitch by using previous experience as a measure (obviously, use results and situations that have worked!) that relates to the present circumstances.
• Understand how to employ psychology in sales: Choose the right words
Commonly, salespeople are stigmatised as being pushy, aggressive and, of course, always trying to sell something. Because of this stigma, a lot of salespeople hesitate to go about their jobs.However, with modern selling focusing on more EQ-based sales techniques, this stigma is not as concrete as it used to be. This includes selling value (how will the product/service improve their current situation? Answer their unasked question of, “What’s in it for me?”) and selling to emotions rather than rationale. To quantify the benefits of your product/service, feature details about your other clients’ – their testimonials, stories, quotes, etc. Relate this information to what your prospects could also experience.
• Communicate: Don’t start showing signs of ghosting them!
Your first few pitches are meant to captivate your client and convince them that your solution is the one they need. However, it is a common mistake in sales to start becoming lax once it the deal is starting to look like a sure-fire win. From quick replies to messages and emails to hours of delay before responding, this change in behaviour will be obvious and clients will be able to feel your sudden lack of attention to them. They are not going to like this feeling and it might jeopardise your deal. Always ensure you are reachable and engaging with them constantly (after hours and public holidays are understandable and an unspoken rule).
Remember that when you are “ghosted”, 99% of the time it’s not about you. The 1% is when you make a mistake by incorrectly identifying your clients’ needs. Through detailed analysis of all your trials and errors, you will be able to avoid being ghosted and instead, start closing more deals.
For more in-depth information on how to improve your sales pitches, cold calls and other sales-related skills, check out our public programme designed for individuals, business owners and salespeople OR drop us a message below to see how we can help you!