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Ghosted by a Prospective Customer? 5 Tips to Handle it Well

Updated: Jun 23

It's a scenario many of us know too well: We’ve been working with a prospective customer, and then suddenly, they become nonresponsive. This sudden silence is so common that there's now a term for it: ghosting. According to Psychology Today, the term “ghosting” means abruptly ending communication with someone without explanation. While it's often discussed in the context of romantic relationships, ghosting also occurs in professional settings, leaving one party feeling anything from mildly confused to deeply betrayed. The sting of ghosting can hurt even more than outright rejection because we don’t have any clues about what went wrong.

How can we handle being ghosted with poise and continue pushing forward? Here are five strategic tips to manage and mitigate the silence:

Don't Take It Personally

It's easy to spiral into self-doubt when a prospect suddenly becomes non-responsive. You might wonder if you've done something wrong or if they dislike your proposal. You might start to feel down, unmotivated, and hesitant to reach out to others, allowing a single ghosting incident to ruin your day or even your week. This reaction is not only emotionally draining but also highly unproductive. In this situation, it’s essential to remember that non-responses often have more to do with the other person's circumstances than anything you've done.

Consider your own reasons for not replying to emails or calls at times. Were you too busy? Perhaps you forgot, or maybe you were unsure of what to say. It’s likely your prospect might be facing similar issues. Grant them the same understanding you’d hope for if you were in their shoes.

By not taking ghosting personally, you protect your mental energy and stay focused on productivity. Remember, the silence might not be about you at all. Recognizing this can save you a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Send a Gentle Reminder

If you haven't heard back, it's advisable to wait a week before sending a reminder or follow-up message. This timeframe shows you’re considerate but still keeps the conversation relevant. When you’re drafting your reminder, avoid simply forwarding your last message. This can come off as pushy and might make the recipient feel guilty for not responding earlier. Instead, write a new message that perhaps improves upon your previous one, politely asking for a reply at their earliest convenience.

It’s also important to be mindful of the timing of your emails. Avoid sending follow-ups during evenings or weekends, as these are more likely to be overlooked or dismissed. Sending emails during business hours increases the likelihood they’ll be seen and attended to promptly.

Lastly, too many follow-ups can be detrimental to your professional image. Being overly persistent may be perceived as desperate or pushy, which can harm your reputation and brand. Always strike a balance. Show your interest without becoming an annoyance.

Consider Reaching Out in a Different Way

If you are connecting with a prospect for the first time and they aren’t responding to your email, it might be time to try a different method. Given that many people receive a high volume of emails daily, your message might simply be lost in the mix. A text message or a direct message via social media platforms could be more effective, as these are often perceived as less intrusive and more immediate forms of communication.

Calling on the phone can be hit or miss. While phone calls can sometimes expedite discussions, they are increasingly becoming a less favored option, particularly among younger audiences such as Millennials and members of Gen Z. These groups may view phone calls as overly time-consuming or invasive compared to other digital communications. As such, you should reserve phone calls as a last resort or for contacts who have shown a preference for voice conversations in the past. Always be mindful of the communication preferences of your audience. When in doubt, digital messaging is a safer, more universally accepted approach!

Understand Their Discomfort with Saying No

Many people find it difficult to outright reject an offer, and according to Dr. Elizabeth Scott, this is particularly true for those with people-pleaser tendencies. They may hesitate to say no due to a fear of disappointing others, a desire for approval, or simply not wanting to hurt someone's feelings. This reluctance can be even more pronounced when they're already stressed, over-committed, or too busy to take on more responsibilities.

Therefore, if a prospective customer doesn't respond to your communication, it's possible they are indirectly saying no. They may not be comfortable confronting the situation directly, possibly to avoid conflict or because they don't want to close the door on future opportunities. While this may not provide the clear closure you desire, understanding this perspective can help you interpret their silence more constructively. Recognizing that their lack of response could be their way of saying no without having to articulate it directly can prevent misunderstandings and save you from further frustration. 

Being ghosted sometimes means no from a prospective customer.

Move On and Keep Prospecting

Once you've tried various communication methods, sent a gentle reminder, and haven’t received a response, it's reasonable to conclude that the prospect may not be interested in what you have to offer. However, this doesn't mean all efforts are lost. Remember the 90-120 days rule in sales: What you do today can often lead to returns in the next three to four months.

Continue to focus on other prospects and make the most of your time by being productive in your business operations. It’s essential to keep identifying new opportunities. You might be pleasantly surprised when a prospect you thought had ghosted you suddenly reappears, ready to engage. Stay proactive and patient.

Bonus Tip! Let’s challenge ourselves to be more responsive in our own business communications! It’s important that we strive to improve at replying promptly. After all, that’s how we’d like to be treated, right? A helpful tip is to respond as soon as you receive an email or text. If a message slips down the list in your inbox, it's easy to lose sight of the email and never get back to it. Keeping on top of your messages ensures nothing important gets overlooked.

Are you navigating the challenges of building and maintaining business relationships? As a dedicated business coach and growth strategy consultant for women entrepreneurs, I'm here to guide you through enhancing your communication and prospecting strategies. My goal is to help your business make a significant impact in your market. Connect with me for a complimentary session to discuss personalized strategies that can transform your business interactions and improve growth.

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