Ghosting is a relatively new term that originated in the early 2000s.
Though it’s more commonplace in pop culture as something that happens in relationships or between potential love interests, ghosting in sales is common and just as hurtful.
In a survey by Sales Health Alliance, 26.9% of salespeople pointed to ghosting in sales as one of the top three things that affect their mental health.
Why do prospects ghost you? How can you keep them engaged through the sales process? Let’s find out.
Why do your prospects go “ghost” on you?
Ghosting in sales, like in relationships, can happen at any point. It could be after your prospect agreed to a meeting and didn’t show up. It could be after a lively conversation that made you feel like you left a good impression, then **crickets**
There’s a reason most people agree that a yes or no is comforting. That radio silence is killing. You begin to wonder where you went wrong or even doubt your intuition.
Ghosting in sales is hardly personal. Here are six reasons your prospects might ghost you.
1. They are considering other alternatives
It’s easy to assume that a killer pitch and excellent rapport with your prospect means you’ve won the account. Though they are positive signs, it is unlikely that you are the only one in conversation with your prospect. Most companies will consider different proposals before making a final decision, especially in the B2B industry, where buying decisions are pretty high-stakes.
2. Poor lead qualification process
61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales; however, only 27% of those leads are up to snuff, according to HubSpot.
Poor lead qualification is equal to shooting darts in the dark. It’s unlikely you’ll convert when you try to nurture prospects that don’t fit your target account. The modern B2B buyer goes through different stages before making a buying decision. By not qualifying your leads, you could end up sending marketing qualified leads to sales, which may deter them from becoming customers.
3. Poor product positioning
As a salesperson, you want to focus on the features of your product when pitching your prospect.
If you fail to show the prospect why your product is relevant, there’s no incentive to do business with you. Poor product positioning is not just a failure to communicate the features of your product. It’s failing to show your product solves a problem for your prospect. This common error can lead to ghosting in sales.
4. You are talking to the wrong person
Spend some time researching the right contacts at an organization. Be sure that your contact can make a buying decision or at least has an influence over it.
Speaking to the wrong person can lead to ghosting because even if they see the value of your product, it’s not in their power to make the buying call.
5. Your case study is irrelevant to the prospect
Take a step back and analyze the meeting you had with your prospect. How did you present your product? Which use cases or case studies did you use to show your product in action?
If you have an in-depth buyer persona, you should have a case study that addresses the pain points of your ideal customers. A relevant case study allows you to show a prospect how your product can solve an existing problem.
6. Undue pressure
Your buyers are people, too. So avoid underhanded or sneaky sales tactics. When you repeatedly reach out to prospects without giving them time to consider your proposal or listen to their concerns about your product, it can come across like all you care about is your quota and commission.
In addition, hard-sell tactics will only make your prospects wary of your company and product. Your work is to show them the value of your product, not implying that their business will fail if they don’t become your customer. Know when to back off an account without being unprofessional.
Now that you’ve figured out why your prospects ghosted, here’s how you can prevent it from happening again.
How to prevent prospects from ghosting you
1. Leverage social selling
If you’ve been ignoring your social media platforms, now is the time to take it more seriously. Traditionally, B2B sales rely on in-person events for networking. However, Gartner reports that 75% of B2B buyers today use social media to research products before making a buying decision.
The Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated that and led to a reduction in in-person events. As a savvy salesperson, you already know that meeting your customers where they are is one of the first rules. B2B buyers are online now, and social selling allows you to meet them there.
Is social selling the same as sending Linkedin messages to prospects requesting a meeting? No.
Social selling involves building a relationship with your target audience and nurturing them into leads. Hootsuite describes social selling as the practice of using a brand’s social media channels to connect with prospects, develop a connection with them, and engage with potential leads. Here’s how you can do this
- Optimize your social media profiles: Decide which platform(s) you want to use and optimize them for visibility. Most B2B salespersons use LinkedIn to engage with prospects and have gained success on the platform. Use professional photos and display recommendations from past and existing clients.
- Post valuable content: You can attract and educate prospects on your product with your content. Share use cases, testimonials, case studies, and blog posts that show how your product solves a customer’s problem.
- Engage with your prospects: Your prospect doesn’t have to follow you on social media, but you can show up on their posts and engage with them. Sharing insightful comments and opinions is an excellent way to get them to notice you and your brand.
2. Simple check-ins can do wonders
Don’t write off your prospects immediately. Your prospects have busy schedules and a life outside work. So they might have forgotten to get back to you, or something came up at that time.
You can start by sending them a check-in mail 30 minutes to an hour before your meeting to confirm if they’ll show up. This can also serve as a reminder for them if they’ve forgotten your meeting.
Alternatively, send them a follow-up email inquiring if they are still interested. Blaise Bevilacqua, a Senior Account Executive at UserGems, says, “when all else fails, I send this email and with a little humor, typically it helps find out why.”
Letting them know you are open to rescheduling can also help to re-open up the conversation. However, if you reach out and the prospect doesn’t respond, it might be time to move on or find another contact within the account.
Focusing on one prospect in a company is appealing and often considered the norm. But in B2B, where there are multiple decision-makers, it’s vital to have more than one contact within an account.
Multithreading in sales allows you to connect with different decision-makers and influencers at an organization. This way, you don’t have to depend on one prospect’s feedback. If your contact ghosts you because they don’t have the authority to further the conversation, you can easily reach out to another. This can effectively shorten the sales cycle and accelerate deals and reduce the possibility of ghosting in sales. Here are three questions to guide you and your sales team when multithreading:
- Who are the key decision-makers on this account?: In the B2B buying journey, there are multiple decision-makers. According to Gartner, there are six to ten decision-makers in the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution. Research and pinpoint who you should add to your contact list.
- Who are the influencers?: Don’t forget the influencers! It’s easy to overlook them when prospecting, but the right B2B influencer can move the needle on a buying decision. For example, your contact might be the VP of sales while the influencer is a team lead. Winning their trust means that you have someone advocating for your product.
- What do they care about?: Know what they care about and tailor your proposal to match their goals and objectives. The VP of Sales might want a cost-efficient product, while the team lead is looking for the most effective solution that makes their job easier. Think about their goals and show them how your product can help them achieve what they want for the success of their company.
4. Take advantage of warmer paths into an account
Warmer paths are sales trigger events on your target accounts like job changes, mergers, and new funding announcements. Leveraging these sales trigger events ensures your pitch is timely and relevant to the prospect.
Forbes found that at least 40% of people are changing their jobs this year, and this is an opportunity for salespeople to win new accounts and recover lost closed accounts. How? Track job changes at your target accounts and closed opportunities. When a past or existing customer moves to a new company, they can influence the buying decision at their new company by advocating for your product.
In addition, they can also provide a warm introduction to another contact in the company, which wins their trust faster than cold outreach.
5. Review your lead qualification process
A tight lead qualification process helps you sieve out unqualified prospects at the beginning of the sales cycle.
This is not to debate whether cold leads are better than warm leads, but if your prospects are cold leads, you will not know their needs or whether your product is relevant to them, which leads to sending them irrelevant information that they have no use for.
The importance of warm leads in prospecting can’t be over-emphasized. Focusing on warm leads allows you to prequalify before passing them on to the sales team.
How do you ensure you pursue the right leads?
- Assess the prospects' needs: Find out their current challenges and how your product can solve them. When you are aware of their needs, you can be confident they match your ideal customer profile.
- Know their budget: Some sales cycles drag on, and when it gets to pricing, everything falls apart. If you are upfront with costs, you will avoid the radio silence when they realize it doesn’t meet their budget.
- Verify the level of their influence on the buying process: Confirm that they can move the needle on buying decisions. If they can’t, you can request a warm introduction if they are familiar with your product.
- Confirm their timeline: Know your prospect’s stage on the buying journey so you can provide a personalized experience. Some prospects are still at the research stage and considering other options. In contrast, others are ready to buy if your solution meets their needs. Knowing their timeline gives you room to reassure them, answer questions on your product, and also create a time cadence you can follow to check in on them.
6. Add value to the buying process
Every interaction with a prospect during the buying process is an opportunity to provide value. UserGem’s Senior Account Executive, Derek Wang, agrees: “Best way to not be ghosted is to build value and deliver value - this isn't always easy.”
Did you find a new report that could be a game-changer in their industry? Share it with them. Do you have a case study on a similar company that just reached some goals with your product? Don't be shy about showing it off.
Your strong value proposition will set you apart from the competition and ensure long-term success for your company.
Warm leads are the future of prospecting
Ghosting in sales can happen to anyone. It doesn’t mean that you are not good at your job. However, analyzing your sales process helps you discover your weak spots and engage your prospects throughout the buying process.
Though you can't guarantee if you will win an account or not, you can improve your chances from the prospecting stage by focusing on warm leads. With warm leads, you can confirm that they need your products and leverage open opportunities to make your outreach relevant and timely.
UserGems helps companies generate more revenue by combining relationship data with trigger events to surface the most likely buyers for each company. With UserGems, customers get a bigger pipeline and win more often.