Coming up to Halloween it seems the right time to write about this.
If you’re not familiar with the term ‘ghosting’ it’s defined on Wikipedia as:
… breaking off a relationship by stopping all communication and contact with the partner without any apparent warning or justification, as well as ignoring the partner’s attempts to reach out or communicate.
This is mainly experienced by people in a dating context.
However most people who’ve been involved in sales for any length of time with recognise the same thing happening with prospects, particularly after sending a proposal. With professional relationships it’s hard not to put this behaviour down to ignorance and rudeness. And it’s hard not to take it personally. But what’s really going on behind the scenes? And what are some things you can do to prevent post-proposal ghosting?
First if you’re being ghosted on a regular basis you must take responsibility for your communication.
The meaning of your communication is the response you get.
And there are three reasons you might not be getting the response you want:
1. You’ve not talked directly to the most important person in the buying process.
This is the person whose budget your project funding is coming from – The Economic Buyer. Often we talk only to other buying influencers. That is User Buyers, or Technical Buyers. It’s these types of buyers who tend to ghost, because they don’t have the authority to give final approval to buy. The reason they are ignoring you is because they are scurrying behind the scenes trying to get your proposal approved from the Economic Buyer. The antidote to this situation is simply not to submit proposals to non-Economic Buyers. [It’s pretty easy to spot the difference between these three different types of buyer. Economic Buyers focus on outcomes and ROI. User Buyers look at the operational impact to their job. Technical Buyers want to know about specifications and standards.]
Have you elicited what’s important about this project to the Economic Buyer?
2. You’ve talked to the Economic Buyer, but not ‘nailed their feet to the floor’.
I’ve written briefly about the simple antidote to this obstacle here. Before leaving the Economic Buyers office you want them to have agreed a plan of specific actions, one of which is your next time and date for contact.
Have you agreed precisely what happens next after the Economic Buyer gets your proposal?
3. Your offer simply isn’t important enough, or strong enough to maintain the Economic Buyer’s attention.
The thing with executives at this level is that they have multiple priorities. While they are meeting with you they’ll give their attention to the issue you can potentially help with. Then they’ll be onto their next meeting and potentially competing priority. Unless the issue you’re talking about is shown to move the Economic Buyer’s business agenda forward significantly it will move down their attention stack as soon as you walk out the door.
Have you influenced your proposal’s ranking within the Economic Buyer’s agenda?
The bottom line
Next time you’re feeling ghosted and inclined to blame the prospect turn and look in the mirror. Be honest with yourself and review the three reasons above. How will you change your communication?
Please let me know how you get on. And, if you want more guidance for structuring powerful and productive sales meetings with clients do get in touch.