Ghostbusters - How to Face Ghosting in Business
Updated: Oct 3
Working in sales feels like a rollercoaster. Some of it includes great parts that give you a rush like engaging with customers, closing a deal, hitting quota. And it also has some difficult parts: losing a deal, churn and facing rejection on a daily basis.
During my last few years working in sales, I realized that one of the most difficult things for me to embrace is when I am being ignored. Hence, when I try to contact a potential customer/partner/key stakeholder but never receive an answer. Like the dating world, being "Ghosted" is one of the most annoying situations to face. In a magical and a perfect world, my wish would be to make men, and people in general, become more direct and decisive so they will answer a clear “No” instead of not replying or fading away. However, as the famous quote from Stoicism say: “You can’t control someone’s action but you can control the way you do”.
I’ve found 3 best practices that help me face "ghosting" by customers in a more effective way and even sometimes receiving an answer after not hearing from them for a long while:
1. Up to 3 follow ups - I am aware of the classic sales methodologies that encourage 7 touch points with customers. However, I believe that when you articulate your message well and in a way that the reader understands “what’s in it for them”, you won’t need 7 touch points. From my experience, if someone doesn’t reply after an email and 2 follow ups, it’s a sign that I need to check my messaging or find a different strategy to contact that person. Despite the fact that I don’t let go easily and willing to work hard to get to the relevant decision makers, I also want to be cautious with my time and priorities where to put an effort.
2. ”Third time’s a charm” - Many decision makers are overloaded with work and emails, and sometimes a message gets lost. As shared previously. I always send up to 3 follow ups (first email and 2 follow ups). My third email refers to the famous quote: “Third time’s a charm”. I’ve found that humor and keeping it easy makes it more appealing for the other side to engage than leading with repetitive messages that are focusing on generic messages or pushing to a corner.
3. ”Pull a Nico” - When I joined LinkedIn, I received a great piece of advice from a former colleague of mine: Nicolai Dam Hansen. Nico advised me to be confident enough to detach from the customer and give them an opportunity to come back. Believing that we deliver a real value for the customer and building FOMO means that if they don’t reply, they are the ones who stand to lose by not answering. In case I don’t receive any reply from the recipient after 3 emails, I write kindly that I understand “they are too busy” or “it’s not the right timing” and that I don’t want to spam them with emails, so when they want to discuss how I can help them increase their ROI, shortening sales cycles etc., I’d be happy yo jump on a call.
Something with pressing on a point that reflects the pain of the other party while holding the potential solution, might make them want to hear more. And if not now, maybe later on.
My 2 cents moving forward
Continuously pushing forward while you are in a fog of not knowing how to get a reply from the other side could be difficult and demotivating. But there is also an opportunity lying within this challenge- checking your messaging, understand how you articulate the value you promise and if you’ve identified the pain of the other side in the most accurate way. By reviewing each part of your engagement with the customer in critical eyes, you have a chance to improve “on the go” and find the most effective communication with them.