How to Avoid Getting Ghosted by Your Prospects

Editor’s Note: This article was first published by Sales Hacker here.

You’ve been here before: it’s been six weeks since you gave your prospect a demo. 

You’ve sent your fourth follow-up email, and left them a few voicemails. 

You cringe as you enter your Monday morning pipeline meeting knowing that yet again, you’ll have to tell your team that this deal’s “still in the works.”

The week draws on, and you keep refreshing Gmail or Outlook. As you watch proverbial tumbleweeds roll across your inbox, you realize your prospect’s ghosted you faster than your last Hinge date. 

What was once a warm lead has now gone cold. And unlike your last Hinge date, you’d love to put a label on it. But you know that this prospect is stuck in your pipeline, and you don’t want to mark them “Closed/Lost” quite yet. 

The key to avoid getting ghosted by your prospects? Try practicing gratitude and sharing gestures of appreciation in order to move them through your pipeline. 

The Painful Problem of Getting Ghosted

Yes, the term ghosting comes from the dating world, and it’s defined as the practice of ending a relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. More often than not, it occurs when one partner in a relationship would like it to end without conflict or consequences. 

The practice of ghosting has become rampant amongst romantic relationships, particularly due to a proliferation of dating apps. Now, the habit’s occurring in business partnerships. 

For sales professionals in particular, it’s become more normative for prospects to drop out of the picture after conversing. Instead of telling salespeople that they’re unable to conduct business with them, they cut off communication and render themselves as “unreachable.” 

Why is ghosting particularly painful? Well, for starters, the conversation has already begun. Between multiple positive phone calls and email exchanges, it appears as if the deal’s moving towards “Closed/Won” before the ghosting officially occurs. And then poof: out of nowhere, your prospect vanishes, which hurts on both a professional and personal level. 

4 Reasons Why BDRs & SDRs Get Ghosted by Their Prospects

Sure, you’re a pro at handling rejection. But there’s nothing more disheartening than getting ghosted after conducting several conversations with key stakeholders. 

Think you’re alone? Well, you’re not. As it turns out, getting ghosted by leads is quite common. According to Veelo, on average, 58% of the deals in a sales rep’s pipeline will stall.  

If you’re wondering why you’ve been ghosted, the following reasons could explain why you’re unable to move deals through the funnel at a faster rate: 

1. It’s Not a Good Time for them to Commit 

Perhaps your prospect seemed super excited about your business, its products, or its services from the language in their email correspondence to their vocal inflection when you spoke with them over the phone. But sometimes there are factors that you’re unable to account for, since you’re unaware of what issues may arise on your potential partner’s end. 

For instance, they may have discovered that their budget wasn’t as big as they’d thought. Or, they might have assumed that they could allocate spend in order to solidify a partnership with your company, but they’re discovering that they’re unable to see it through because their boss won’t give them approval. 

Paralleling today’s dating world, your prospect may find that it’s difficult to communicate that now’s “not the right time” for them to engage in the relationship. 

To avoid dealing with this difficult and disappointing situation, they could be evading your emails and sending your calls straight to voicemail in an attempt to avoid breaking the bad news that they won’t be able to partner with your company currently. 

2. They’re Uncertain that it’s a Good Match

You genuinely think that you can help your prospect solve some of their business’ pain points, and can envision the mutual benefits of your partnership. After asking you a multitude of questions and appearing absorbed during your pitch and presentation, it seemed as if they were in agreement. But just because they showed interest doesn’t mean that they’re fully content to commit

After taking the time to think it over, your contact may have ghosted you because they don’t believe that the partnership will be a good fit for their company. 

Maybe they were inclined to jump on your company’s bandwagon initially, but now they’re hesitant or want to back out. Instead of disclosing their uncertainty or disinterest, they’ve decided that silence would be the best route. 

If you’re struggling to wrap your head around why this sudden change of heart has occurred, here are three reasons why your prospect may be backing out of continuing your conversations:

  • There’s an essential functionality that’s missing from your company’s products or services that would help your prospect overcome his or her main challenges.
  • They’re concerned that your company’s product is too difficult to learn, use, or implement within their organization. 
  • They’ve encountered a negative review or heard derogatory commentary from their connections about your company, and are now second-guessing the potential partnership. 

Regardless of the specific explanation, they’ve become quiet because they’re unclear regarding how to communicate their changed mind, or because they want to ensure that they save your company as a backup option if they ever decide to pursue the partnership in the future.

3. Your Competition has Caught Their Eye 

Paralleling modern dating, your potential client is probably evaluating other options before deciding to move forward with a partnership. To make matters more daunting, there’s a chance that they’ve been in contact with one of your direct competitors. If they’ve been talking to a few of your rivals, then they might feel uncomfortable admitting it.

If you suddenly find yourself receiving the silent treatment, there’s a high likelihood that they have chosen to move forward with one of your competitors, and feel uncomfortable telling you. 

Additionally, there’s also a possibility that they already have a contract with one of your top competitors. Despite the initial attraction towards your company’s products or services, upon weighing their options, they now feel uneasy about breaking off this partnership, and don’t want to run the risk of ruining their relationship with their current vendor. They may have decided to stick with their status quo and forgo sending you a response in an attempt to prevent any awkwardness from arising.

4. They’re Too Busy to Text Back

Sometimes, we all need a break from our uncomfortable office chairs and mediocre Keurig K-Cups. Other times, uncontrollable situations occur in our lives that provoke unresponsiveness. 

The most basic explanation for why a prospect might be ghosting you? A personal circumstance outside of their professional life is now a priority.

Sure, you might feel distressed by your prospect’s reticence to reply. Asking yourself the following questions will help you quell your own anxiousness as you attempt to get your facts straight:

  • Is your contact on vacation? Maybe they forgot to include an out of office reply or a voicemail intercept message. 
  • Is it possible that your connection is sick or may have contracted an illness?
  • Did your prospect mention traveling for a work trip?
  • Has a company crisis occurred that’s now occupying their attention?
  • Are they or could they be experiencing a family-related emergency?
  • Is your lead still with the company?
  • Did their office have a specific holiday that they may have had off or been out of town for?

If you keep following up and still aren’t able to receive a response, try connecting with one of their company’s receptionists, their personal assistant (provided that they have one), or another one of their colleagues in order to determine why they might be leaving you “on read.”

It’s Not You: It’s Them

The bottom line? It’s important to remember that the reason that your prospect has decided to pause or end your conversation trail most likely has little to do with you or your company, and has more to do with them and their preliminary concerns, regardless of if these considerations are professional or personal. 

However, just because they’ve decided to go silent doesn’t mean that you should be completely discouraged. In an effort to elicit responses from your prospects to expedite your sales cycle, try practicing the following four tips:

4 Ways to Elicit a Prospect’s Response & Expedite Your Sales Cycle

1. Use Relevant Communication

You already know that the primary objective for any business is to be top of mind for a potential customer when they’re in need of a specific service. A simple solution to ensure your company’s considered first? Try altering how you communicate with your prospects to move them through your pipeline at a faster rate.

You’ve mastered the art of following up, and recognize the importance of consistent communication. And at the very least, you made it to your desired buyer’s consideration stage before they ghosted you. So how do you make sure that your prospects perceive your messages as pertinent, and most importantly, respond?

The only way to encourage your prospects to reply is by conducting outreach that prioritizes their pain points. Even if they know you well, since 57% of email recipients consider a message to be spam if it isn’t applicable to their needs, your communications need to be crafted towards their goals to get them to reach back out and ensure that you’re not losing their business. 

Put yourself in their shoes when composing your follow up messages in order to view the potential deal from their vantage point and devise ways that you can curate your messaging in alignment with the problems that their business is attempting to overcome.  

Connect Leader claims that 67% of B2B buyers list relevant communication as a major influence for choosing one provider over another. So if your contact has ghosted because he or she is in the process of choosing between you and one of your competitors, implementing relevant communication is of the utmost importance in order to ensure that you stand out and receive a desirable reaction. 

2. Practice Personalization

You’re aware that it’s difficult to stand out amongst the myriad of emails and voicemails that your prospects receive. A second surefire way to get back in touch with connections that have gone cold? Include personalization in your messaging.

Each time that you interact with your potential clients and don’t provide them with something that’s specifically customized for them or their personal interests, you miss an opportunity to make a sale or earn their loyalty. This may sound overwhelming, but there’s no need to panic: personalization can be basic. Two simple yet effective techniques to help you practice personalization include applying customized messaging and using unique delivery systems

Apply Customized Messaging 

Since the majority of your outreach is being conducted via email, note that tiny tweaks to your email drafts will make a big difference. 

For example, try naming your lead in the subject line for a personalized, attention-grabbing touch. It takes little effort to add a recipient’s name to an email subject line, yet the results can be impactful. In fact, including a recipient’s first name in the subject line of an email can boost your open rates by 29.3%.

Use Unique Delivery Systems 

You’ve tried following up with emails, maybe even phone calls. But have you thought about going back to basics? 

One option to incorporate personalization is to avoid your potential customers’ inboxes and opt for “old fashioned” handwritten notes. Additionally, if your company has the budget, consider visiting a few of your prospects’ offices in-person in order to pick up the conversation by conducting it face-to-face. 

Not everyone prefers emails or phone calls, so catering your methods of communication in accordance with your prospects’ personal preferences will not only help you stand out, but will also prompt them to continually converse with you. 

3. Learn to Leverage EQ

If you want your potential clients to continue responding, an additional method is to leverage emotional intelligence (EQ), or the ability to understand other people, what their motivations are, and how to collaborate with them, by concentrating on the collaborative partnership in your outreach

Again, it’s as easy as adjusting your email content. To make sure that you’re incorporating EQ in your email comms, use the following five suggestions: 

  1. Imagine your email exchanges as in-person conversations.
  2. Start by using friendly greetings such as “hi,” “hello,” or “how are you?”
  3. Evaluate your email “voice” to see if you’re maintaining a positive and friendly tone.
  4. If you’re making a request, explain your reasoning so that your “ask” doesn’t come across as a “command.”
  5. Keep in mind that emails can be forwarded. Before hitting “send,” determine if you’re okay with your message being shared with others in addition to your intended recipient. 

To test how EQ can help you generate more revenue, start by regularly acknowledging the people who are already giving you business. You’ll find that their appetite for genuine affirmation is unlimited.

Keep in mind that your targets are people too. Even though you may not be able to immediately convince them to meet or swiftly mark them as “Closed/Won,” by prioritizing the relationship that you’re trying to build, they’ll be more inclined to partner with you in the future if and when the opportunity arises. 

4. Incorporate Expressions of Gratitude 

To encourage your potential clients to continue conversing with you after they’ve ghosted, try incorporating an expression of gratitude in order to provoke a response either through thanking them or demonstrating gestures of appreciation.

Thank them

When a prospect’s stuck in your pipeline, saying a quick “Thank You” will afford you with another entry point for conversation while allowing you to avoid coming across as irritating. According to a study discussed by The New York Times, recipients of an emailed expression of gratitude felt much more “ecstatic” than writers expected.

Even thanking your potential clients for their time after a phone call, meeting, or lengthy email exchange will help you hold their attention, and shift their impressions of you in a positive direction.

Regardless of whether or not your outreach is automated, a brief “thank you” can help you build stronger relationships with your prospects, and can inherently lead them further through the funnel. 

Demonstrate Gestures of Appreciation 

Research conducted by Inc. confirms that showing appreciation to your customers and potential buyers can help you build brand loyalty. So by demonstrating gestures of appreciation before deals become closed, not only will your prospects be primed to respond to your messages, but you’ll also be ahead of the game if and when your prospects become your clients. 

There’s no doubt that sending a customized gesture curated to your targets’ personal interests will help you stand out from the BDR or SDR pack to stay memorable in your leads’ minds. Setting aside some time in your schedule to send gestures of appreciation in the short-term will help you build long-term relationships that lead to greater ROI. 

How to Handle Being Ghosted

“Closed/Lost” Shouldn’t Mean “Closed Door”

It’s not a real “breakup” if you only discussed where you might grab drinks on the first date. Similarly, marking a prospect who ghosted you as “Closed/Lost” shouldn’t mean that you’re completely closing the door on this relationship. 

Although you may feel upset or hurt that your prospect has gone MIA, you never know if they’ll reach back out in the next few days, weeks, months, or years when circumstances change. That’s why it’s essential to incorporate the following four key takeaways to avoid getting ghosted by your prospects and ensure that you’re taking a relationship-first approach with your potential clients: 

  1. Use relevant communication
  2. Practice personalization 
  3. Learn to leverage EQ
  4. Incorporate expressions of gratitude

These four techniques will help you become more likable in the eyes of your prospects. And not only do individuals naturally want to conduct business with people they like, but they also look to create additional business opportunities with those that they enjoy partnering with.

And hey, in the rare case that incorporating these four practices doesn’t work with your prospects, they might just score you a second Hinge date. 

Tired of getting ghosted? Thnks makes it easier to ensure that your prospects won’t stay stuck in your pipeline. In a matter of seconds, you can search for the perfect gift, personalize a note, and send it off via SMS or email. Interested in learning more? Sign up for a demo, or click here to learn more about expressing gratitude in business!