But social selling will help you better than legacy sales methods, that often just make the situation worse.

What is ghosting?

For those not familiar with the term "ghosting", it is when someone you had been in contact with is no longer responsive or reachable.  You make a call and they don't respond, you send an email and they don't respond.  Sometimes it is expected, like when a prospect shows little interest or engagement during a call.  Then there are instances when it is a total surprise, when you felt certain there was strong interest, you may have submitted a proposal and they spoke highly of your solution.  

Why is ghosting a problem to sales and sales leadership?

For a salesperson this is a massive problem as we will have placed a line item in a CRM, which we will now need to "defend" with our sales leadership.

For sales leadership, this is problem as we may have forceast something, how could it just go quiet.  If somebody is interested, then surely, they will still be interested. Right? 

Why ghosting happens?

The truth is that we run up against a mix of best intentions and the corporate politics.  One of my prospects, mother died, another was caught soliciting a male prostitute.  The male prostitute was a policeman.  These things happen.

Many prospects are juggling multiple initiatives and doing their best to stay afloat and employed. They have the same pressures as us, deadlines, children's birthday's, elderly parents etc. At the same time, the priorities of staff and of management are not often aligned, particularly in large organizations.  You also have to deal with people's egos and "personal wins".  This causes mixed signals.  We have all met the person who says they are the decision maker, when it's clear they are not.

If ghosting happens, don't worry and don't take it personally

In Brené Brown book "dare to lead", she poses the question.  "Do we think that people are doing their worse?  No."  Her advice and I totally agree with it, is, we have to assume that "everybody is doing their best."

Some people will be rude and find it easier not to speak to a salesperson and "let them down".  But most prospects are good natured and will contact you after months of ghosting me to apologize for the confusion caused because of sudden shifts in priorities from senior leaders, problems at home, etc, etc.

People generally mean well and are just doing the best they can do. While getting an explanation sooner would have felt better, we should all understand the human nature to avoid embarrassment.

Mitigating ghosting

So how do we mitigate those situations when you are ghosted?

Better qualification – There are most likely a few patterns that can be drawn when you have prospects that ghost you.  The common thing to look for are where your prospects, tell you what you want to hear.  Things like "we need to move fast", "I'm the decision maker, you don't need to talk to anybody else in the company".

Better meetingsBenjamin Franklin said "failure to plan, is planning to fail" you can run a "good" meeting by winging it.  You can run a "great meeting", by preparing.

Meetings are about doing your preparation.  You need to be planning to ask the best questions.  Don't listen with "happy ears", you need to understand and ask, why buying anything, why would they buy anything in the timeframe.  You have to be cynical and curious.

Better follow-up – Customers expect certain things from salespeople and one of those is that you do what you say you will do.  You follow up, you do it timely and you do it when you said you would.

Don't forget it is your job to guide prospects on the buying process, you are the expert and you have worked on many of these before.  When I sold accounting systems, first they business was going to spend $1 million plus and in many cases the buyers had never purchased anything of that magnitude or purchased a project that was going to be that complex.  People want help and are happy for helpful suggestions.

Every interaction with a prospect should have follow-up actions with an owner and due date that lead to outcomes and move the buying process forward.

The Ghosting long game

Despite all attempts to better qualify, manage meetings, and follow-up, there will be situations when you still get ghosted. When that happens, focus on the long game 

Thoughtful engagement – The first thing NOT to do is be a "typical salesperson". You know the typical process of an automated email sequences ending with some funny “break-up email” in hope of drawing a response.  

This will prove that you are not a person to do business with.  This is for idiots and spammers.  People who think a template copied from a book or article will somehow make you original, funny, or stand out as some sort of sales supremo.  It makes you look like all the other people that used the template. A total dork!

A modern salesperson will write a 300 word blog, here are some suggested titles:-

5 issues we see in the XYZ industry that is impacting on cash flow

How inventory management is life science is freeing up cash?

Why Cloud and SaaS has transformed the construction industry?

You get the picture, make it highly relevant to the business issues you are solving and to the industry you are working in. 

(From the questions above you I can see I'm working with a number of supply chain and ERP vendors at the moment.)

When you create this content, no more than 300 words, using the business issues that is stucking your deal.  Then what do you do with it?

You post the content on your Linkedin profile, use the right hashtags for your industry and the relevant business issues. Tag the relevant people in your accounts or industry.

You could even write to your prospect a message on Linkedin and ask them to tell you, what they think of the article.

Content is a great way to unstick pipeline stuck in the forecast.

Go broad – From day one, before you were ghosted you should have built a network within the business.  Gartner say that there are 10 people that make a decision, I am training a supply chain company that they say it's 100.

Let's not forget that for every connection request is an opportunity for you to have a conversation.  It's conversations that create sales.

You should be building that network from day one of the sale, explore other people and departments for other opportunities to engage.  Strong account coverage matters, because the more people and departments you engage with, the more chances you have in securing traction towards developing a winnable deal.

If this article has been useful and you think it would be helpful to your network or individuals then please share it.  Please also tag in the individuals.  

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