What to do when a sales contact ghosts you

Things are going great with your sales contact, you’re making steady progress towards a deal. You’ve had several excellent calls with them. They seem to be fully engaged and enthusiastic about your product. They asked lots of questions during a recent demo and appear to be very excited about your customized proposal. You’re expecting a successful close.Then suddenly… radio silence.

We’ve all had this experience. Everything seems to be going perfectly then unexpectedly your prospect becomes unresponsive. Is there anything you could have done to prevent this from happening? What did you miss? How should you re-engage a sales contact who ghosts you like this?

What causes them to disappear?

First, let’s take a look at what might be causing your prospect’s sudden disappearance.

  • There may be a valid reason. May be dealing with personal priorities that have pushed your deal to the bottom of the list.. They may simply be extremely busy and responding to you now isn’t a top priority. They also may have changed jobs, or any number of other scenarios. I’ve even had a prospect die!
  • The timing might not be right. You never know, something may have changed within their company causing a need to delay moving forward with your solution.
  • Your solution isn’t a good fit. It could be that they found you engaging and enjoyed interacting you but have come to the conclusion that your product isn’t going to meet their requirements.
  • They’re shopping around. There’s always the chance that they are considering their options and checking out the competition.
  • You made an error. You’re only human. It’s quite possible that you made a mistake. Perhaps you skipped a step or missed a key component in the sales process. Did you properly qualify your prospect, dig deep enough into their needs and “close” each call by getting commitment for next steps each time? Failing to do any of these things could mean you’re not dealing with an actual decision maker or someone whose requirements are a match for your solution. Plus they may not have the budget.

Regardless of their reason for becoming uncommunicative, people don’t like to be the bearer of bad news. They know that anything besides a “yes” is not what you want to hear right now. Instead, they find it easier to avoid you in hopes that you’ll go away instead of just saying “no”

Reengage your contact

When your prospect falls off the radar, your goal is to reconnect with them and discover what’s happening. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve lost the sale.
Always remember:

  • Don’t push too hard or be overbearing
  • Don’t panic or appear desperate
  • Don’t refer to the past to make them feel guilty for not responding to previous attempts to follow up with them

These behaviors will only repel your sales contact. They definitely won’t help you reconnect with your prospect to learn the truth about the situation.

Here are some actions you should try, to encourage your mute contact to respond:

Vary your contact attempts by alternating between phone calls, emails, text messages (with prior permission, of course!) and social media messages. Also, try changing up the days of the week and times of day that you reach out to your prospect to increase your odds of connecting.

Try a buried email inquiry by forwarding your original email and saying something like, “I wanted to follow up in case my email was buried in your inbox.” This brings your email back to the top of their inbox again to gives them another chance to reply. This helps when they’re busy and need a nudge to respond.

Offer value by sending them a case study, article or white paper that might aid them in their decision making process. This also sets you apart as a resource, not just a sales rep pursuing the close of a sale.

Be a problem solver by connecting them with a solution to another problem they mentioned during a previous call. Again, making it about the prospect and not about you.

Offer social proof by sharing an existing customer’s testimonial or by putting them in touch with a satisfied customer who’s willing to speak with your prospect by phone.

Leverage an alternate contact within the prospect’s company like another person on the buying committee. They’re probably in a position to provide insight around what’s happening with your primary contact and they may even know what’s happening with the final decision about your solution.

Send a multiple choice email to make it easy for them to respond by saying something like:

“Last time we spoke, you mentioned that you still had X project that might delay your decision. Which of the following best describes where you are now?

  1. I’m ready to move forward. You can give me a call!
  2. This has been delayed for a few weeks, but I am definitely still interested.
  3. I need additional information, a demo, additional pricing or a phone call from you.
  4. I selected a different solution and am no longer interested.
  5. Not sure when I’ll be ready. Feel free to follow up in a couple of months.”

Try sending a sincere video message. This may help you stand out in a crowded inbox and it’s hard to ignore a simulated “face-to-face” encounter.

Give them an easy out but don’t break up. Although tempting at times, you don’t want to completely walk away by assuming the prospect has decided against your solution. Instead, send them an email that says something like:

“It seems like this isn’t a good fit for your company right now. I don’t want to bother you unnecessarily, so I’ll follow up in a few months to see if our goals are better aligned.”

You may end up trying several of these options before your prospect responds. Whatever you do, keep it professional so you don’t ruin your chances to do business with this sales contact in the future.

What have you found works best to reengage a sales contact whose gone silent? Tell us in the comments below.

Recommended eBook: Socratic Sales

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