The week drags on, and you keep refreshing Gmail or Outlook. You watch as the proverbial tumbleweeds roll across your inbox. Your worst fears are realized…

Your prospect has ghosted you faster than your last Hinge date.

What was once a warm lead has now gone cold, and unlike your last Hinge date, you’d love to put a label on it. You don’t want to mark them Closed/Lost quite yet.

The term “ghosting” comes from the dating world.

Ghosting is defined by Google as “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.” More often than not, ghosting happens when one partner in a relationship would like it to end it without conflict or consequences.

Ghosting happens when one partner would like a relationship to end without conflict or consequences.

The practice of ghosting is rampant in romantic relationships, particularly since dating apps. Now, ghosting is occurring more and more in business partnerships as well.

For sales professionals in particular, it’s become far more normal for prospects to drop out of the picture after a seemingly great conversation. Instead of telling salespeople that they’re unable to conduct business with them, prospects cut off communication and render themselves unreachable.

Why is ghosting particularly painful?

Well, for starters, the conversation has already begun. Usually multiple positive phone calls and email exchanges will make it appear as if the deal’s moving towards Closed/Won before the ghosting occurs.

And then, poof. Out of nowhere, your prospect vanishes.

This hurts on both a professional and personal level. Obviously we want to avoid this. The first step is to understand why it happens.

There are four main reasons your deals are stalling and your prospects are disappearing:

Your prospect may have genuinely been excited about your business, its products, or its services. Everything from the language in their emails to their tone of voice when you spoke with them over the phone told you that they wanted to close the deal.

Unfortunately, sometimes there are factors that you’re unable to account for. Issues may arise on your potential partner’s end that you are simply unaware of.

For instance, they may have discovered that their budget wasn’t as big as they’d thought. They might have assumed that they could allocate spending to solidify a partnership with your company, but they were unable to get the approval.

Mirroring today’s dating world, your prospect may find that it difficult to communicate that now’s just “not the right time” to engage in the relationship.

The prospect seemingly agreed, asking you a multitude of questions and appearing absorbed during your pitch and presentation.

Just because the prospect shows interest doesn’t mean that they’re ready to fully commit.

Your contact may have ghosted you because, after thinking it over, they don’t believe the partnership will be a good fit for their company.

Maybe they were inclined to jump on your bandwagon initially. But now they’re hesitant or want to back out. And instead of disclosing their uncertainty or disinterest, they’ve decided that silence would be the best route.

(Just like your Hinge date!)

(Okay — I’ll let that one drop.)

This change of heart may be hard to understand. But it’s very common and can happen for a variety of reasons.

Here are three common reasons prospects change their mind partway through a deal:

Regardless of the specific explanation, they’ve gone quiet because they’re unclear regarding how to communicate their change of mind, or because they want to ensure that they save your company as a backup option if they ever decide to pursue the partnership in the future.

Just like modern dating, your potential client is probably evaluating other options before deciding to move forward with a partnership. To make matters more daunting, there’s a chance that they’re in contact with one of your direct competitors.

They might feel uncomfortable admitting that they’ve been talking with some of your rivals.

If you suddenly find yourself receiving the silent treatment, there’s a high likelihood that they have chosen to move forward with one of your competitors and feel uncomfortable telling you.

Additionally, there’s a possibility that they already have a contract with one of your top competitors. Despite the initial attraction towards your company’s products or services, upon weighing their options, they now feel uneasy about breaking off their partnership, and don’t want to run the risk of ruining their relationship with their current vendor.

They may have decided to stick with the status quo and forgo sending you a response in an attempt to prevent any awkwardness.

What’s the most basic explanation for why you might be getting ghosted by a prospect? A personal circumstance outside of their professional life is now a priority.

Sure, you might feel distressed by your prospect’s radio silence. But ask yourself these questions to quell your anxiety and get your facts straight:

The bottom line? Your prospect deciding to pause or end your conversation most likely has little to do with you or your company, and has more to do with them and their immediate personal or professional concerns.

However, just because they’ve decided to go silent doesn’t mean you should be completely discouraged. There are four things you can do to improve responses and get them moving through your pipeline again.

Stop ghosting before it starts with these four tactics:

The primary objective for any business is to be top-of-mind for a potential customer when they’re in need of a service you provide.

How do you make sure your prospects perceive your messages as relevant and, more importantly, respond?

Alter how you communicate with your prospects to move them through your pipeline faster. The only way to encourage your prospects to reply is by conducting outreach that prioritizes their pain points.

Put yourself in their shoes when composing your follow-up messages. Curate your messaging to align with the problems that their business is attempting to overcome right now.

Each time you interact with potential clients and don’t provide them with something that’s specifically customized for them or their personal interests, you miss an opportunity to make a sale or earn their loyalty. This may sound overwhelming, but there’s no need to panic. Personalization can be basic and simple.

Two simple, yet effective, techniques to help you practice personalization include applying customized messaging and using unique delivery systems.

Use customized messaging

Use unique delivery systems

You’ve tried following up with emails, maybe even phone calls, but have you thought about going back to basics?

One way to incorporate personalization is to avoid your potential customers’ inboxes and opt for old-fashioned, handwritten notes. Additionally, if your company has the budget, consider visiting a few of your prospects’ offices in-person to pick up the conversation face-to-face.

Not everyone prefers emails or phone calls. Cater your methods of communication to your prospects’ personal preferences. This will not only help you stand out, but will also prompt them to WANT to talk with you.

To encourage your potential clients to start talking with you after they’ve already ghosted you, try incorporating an expression of gratitude. Either thank them or do something to show your appreciation.

Thank them

When a prospect’s stuck in your pipeline, saying a quick “thank you” will give you another entry point for conversation while allowing you to avoid coming across as irritating.

Even thanking your potential clients for their time after a phone call, meeting, or lengthy email exchange will help you hold their attention, and it will shift their impressions of you in a positive direction.

Regardless of whether or not your outreach is automated, a brief thank you can help build stronger relationships with your prospects, and it will inherently lead them further through the funnel.

Show appreciation

There’s no doubt that sending a customized “thank you,” curated to your targets’ personal interests, will help you stand out from the BDR or SDR pack.

So set aside some time in your schedule to send gestures of appreciation in the short-term. It will help you build long-term relationships that lead to greater ROI.

It’s not a real breakup if you only ever discussed where you might grab drinks on the first date. Similarly, marking a prospect who ghosted you as “Closed/Lost” shouldn’t mean that you’re completely closing the door on that relationship.

Although you may feel upset or hurt that your prospect has gone MIA, you never know if they’ll reach back out in the next few days, weeks, months, or years when circumstances change.

To avoid getting ghosted, just remember to:

These four techniques will help you become more likable in the eyes of your prospects. Not only do individuals naturally want to conduct business with people they like, but they also look to create additional business opportunities with those that they enjoy partnering with.

And hey, in the rare case that incorporating these four practices doesn’t work with your prospects, they might just score you a second Hinge date.

The post How to Avoid Getting Ghosted by Your Prospects (4 Steps) appeared first on Sales Hacker.