Preventing ghosting beats resurrection any day.
We've all been there. You researched the hell out of a prospect and hit them with a great email. They responded. You had a quick conversation about their pain points and your solution and they agreed to a discovery call. Discovery goes really well…. And then, nothing.
Now, it's possible that it was just dumb luck. Maybe the prospect you've been nurturing lost their job (it happens more than we'd like!). Maybe it was bad timing. Maybe they were just fishing. But it's also possible that there's something in your approach or pitch or process that you can fix. Especially if you're seeing a pattern to this kind of thing.
Let's get into it.
Why do prospects ghost us?
By and large, it's either because they didn't see the value of what you were offering, or it became easier to ignore you than to come right out and say no, or you lost control of the sales process. In my experience, there are three main reasons why this happens:
You're more committed to your prospect's success than they are.
You may be selling to someone who isn't truly committed to moving out of the status quo. Yes, you asked all the right questions and yes you discussed their pain points and your solution and yes, they saw the value in it. But they're just not there yet. The pain of making the change is greater than the pain of living with the problem.
Fun fact: most of us have a sense of prospects like this. We go ahead anyway. I'd like to suggest an alternative approach: say you actually let the prospect know that you understand where they are. Acknowledge where they're at, and don't show them the product. If they're on the fence, you'll most likely trigger them into wanting to see the product (Isn't psychology great?). If not, you'll save yourself a ton of time.
Your product's USP didn't come across
I think it's safe to assume that every one of our prospects is also shopping with our competition. If your pitch is hitting too many points that your product has in common with its competition, you're not doing your product justice. Remember, the first 4-6 minutes of any conversation (including demos!) is when you have the prospect's full attention. What you cover in that time sticks.
Pro tip: Don't skirt the competition. In fact, I'd go ahead and mention the competition by name, if I have to. You know what your product can do, you know what it can do better than the competition. Those are your differentiators. Hit those hard!
You followed up too much
Purchasing decisions take time. You don't want to be that guy who emails/calls/texts the prospect every day. It's exhausting to have to respond 'not yet' to someone over and over again. It's also very off-putting.
Instead, try asking them when would be the right time to follow up. They know you'll follow up, so ask. Most prospects will appreciate it.
How to prevent ghosting
Let's get back to the three drivers of ghosting:
They don't see value
It's easier to ghost you than give you a response.
You lost control of the sales process
Let's start by showing them value.
Tip #1: Go into each meeting fully prepared. You've done your research, you know the buyer personas, now target each person as effectively as possible. Within the larger meeting, create pockets when you're talking directly to each person there, and their needs.
Tip #2: Show, don't tell. Use disco demos! Who says you can't sell during discovery? Assume that the client is talking to your competition, so give them a taste of your solution right at the get go.
Tip #3: Keep them engaged. Yes, you're working on the demo. In the meantime, keep them warm by sending them demo snippets. I always take permission to send them demo snippets: that way they've already agreed to look at what I'll send them.
Tip #4: Don't take too long with the demo. Work with your sales engineer to expedite demo creation.
Then, make it hard for them to ghost you.
Tip #5: Ask the prospect if they're comfortable saying no. It may feel counterproductive, but if they're going to ghost you anyway, this will save you a ton of time. Moreover, by giving the prospect this option, you part as friends. And that's a huge asset when this person switches jobs!
Tip #6: Engage with more than one person on the team, if possible.
Tip #7: Have one of your peers reach out to them (on your behalf), and if they respond, hand over the prospect to your peer. This gives you an opportunity to learn from the sidelines. Sometimes it's just a personality thing, but sometimes there might be things your peers are doing that you can learn from.
Finally, keep control of the sales process.
Tip #8: Check your lead qualification process. If you're getting ghosted a lot, chances are that there's a problem with your lead qualification. Check with your peers, are they facing the same problem?
Tip #9: Track job changes. If a warm prospect has changed jobs, they can influence the buying decision at the new company, or at least give you a warm introduction to someone who can.
Tip #10: Check in with your prospect from time to time. Particularly if the ball is in their court. It's easy for people to lose track - they may have simply forgotten to get back to you.
Tip #11: Always outline the next steps and set clear expectations. It's very easy for a prospect to fall out of a sales cycle if they don't have a clear idea of what comes next.
Tip #12: Speed up your sales cycle. If you're taking too long, you're creating room for your competition to elbow in on your deal, or for your prospect to lose interest (or have second thoughts because you're taking so long).
Tip #13: BAMFAM. Book A Meeting From A Meeting. Don't leave it open. You've already got all the right people in the room, get everyone to look into their calendars and decide a time right then and there, and book it.
Tip #14: Take control of meeting times. Instead of a "When can we discuss this?" try "Does 11am Monday work for you?" You're taking a 'someday' meeting and grounding it into their calendar.
You can implement all of these tips and suggestions and still get ghosted from time to time. However, it won't be for lack of trying, or due to a gap in your process. As with everything else, always be learning: talk to your peers and mentors and solicit both advice and feedback. People are awesome, and your team, however competitive, wants to see you succeed. Especially if you're one to pay it forward and pay it back.