Ghosting: How to Respond When Prospects Go Silent

ghosting

Ghosting isn’t just for dating; salespeople often deal with prospects who suddenly go dark, cutting off all communication. It’s a confusing situation because you don’t want to come across as annoying, but it also can be very frustrating when a contact stops responding. So, what’s a salesperson to do? “Don’t panic. And don’t give up.” That’s the advice from Claire Murdough, who recently shared her advice on this topic in an article for HubSpot. 

Ghosting happens

First and foremost, don’t get angry. “It’s easy to assume a no-​show is the result of a flaky or ultra-​busy prospect, then let that belief color the rest of your interactions with them,” Murdough explains. You need to first consider that there may be a valid reason for the silence. By adopting this thoughtful mindset, you keep yourself from making inaccurate assumptions and jumping to conclusions.

When crafting a response to ghosting, pay extra attention to the tone you use, whether you’re communicating with your voice or written words. She acknowledges that yes, you might feel resentful, especially if you’ve invested a lot of time into the relationship. But, keep in mind that this is just an inconvenience and not worth immediately lashing out over. “We're all human, and we all make mistakes,” Murdough writes. “Without knowing the circumstances (as described in the previous tip), it's not advisable to chastise the prospect. Plus, it's always best to keep things professional.”

How NOT to respond to ghosting

Avoid guilt-​tripping the prospect. Yes, ghosting is a frustrating thing to experience. Trying to make someone feel guilty doesn’t accomplish much good; it essentially emotionally manipulates people into doing something they aren’t comfortable doing. This won’t reflect well on you or your company, and you do not want to cloud your reputation with such negativity. 

Also, Murdough strongly advises against harassment. While this should be an obvious no-​no, reps can easily find themselves tip-​toeing into this territory. “…You’d be surprised at the lengths some sales reps go to get a hold of a prospect,” she writes. “This includes calling alternative numbers found on LinkedIn profiles or emailing a prospect’s personal account.” While ghosting isn’t cool, neither is using alternative sources to track down a prospect. While it’s ok to get creative to reach out, remember that there’s definitely a line between persistence and harassment. 

How you should respond

When reaching out, be upfront and honest about what you’re writing about. If you tried reaching out via phone, tell them that you tried and didn’t get a response. Did they miss a Zoom meeting? Point that out. “Stating what happened outright helps you establish the facts from your perspective and avoid making ‘assumption’ statements that aren’t all that motivating,” Murdough explains.

Then, once you’ve acknowledged the ghosting, add the value you had planned to showcase during the missed connection. What information, resources, insights, and materials were you planning to share? Use this outreach to share them and reveal that value. “Sending resources gives your prospect an opportunity to educate themselves on why they should choose your product or service, as well as get up to speed on missed information without slowing down the process too much,” Murdough writes.

These steps will get you on your way to creating a thoughtful, professional response when you find yourself being ghosted (check out Murdough’s entire article for the rest of her tips, including email templates). Ghosting isn’t fun, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of the road with a prospect. And, it can also be a learning moment. As she points out, “…Never stop thinking critically about how your process could be improved. It’s 100% worth it to analyze why a prospect may not have shown up…These are things that will inform your approach the next time and the time after that, and adding them to your playbook will make you a stronger sales rep.”

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel and Media Sales Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.