Closing Time

Ghosting in Sales: How to Follow Up When Prospects Disappear

It happens every day in every SaaS sales department: Motivated prospect. Pricing finalized. Contract sent.

And yet? Silence.

Boom! Ghosted!

In this episode of Closing Time, Sam McKenna of #samsales Consulting shares how B2B sales reps can capitalize on being ghosted when booking inbound and outbound meetings, the importance of personalizing each and every interaction, and how to avoid being ghosted after sending the proposal. 

But when prospects go dark, how you handle the next steps could mean the difference between signature and silence.

Watch the video:
Key Moments:
Ghosted When Scheduling Meetings

As a B2B sales rep, being ghosted by prospects can be frustrating and demotivating. Ghosting happens when a prospect suddenly stops responding to your emails or calls, leaving you in the dark about what went wrong.

One of the main reasons why reps get ghosted is that they don’t have a proper follow-up process in place after receiving an initial response from a prospect. They get excited about the prospect’s interest in their product or service, and they rush to reply without thinking about how to ensure that the conversation continues.

To avoid being ghosted after you ask to schedule a meeting, you need to be proactive in your follow-up process.

Here are some tips:

1. When you receive an initial response, make sure to CC yourself in the email reply to the prospect and set a reminder in your sales engagement platform or CRM. This will help you remember to follow up and keep the conversation going.

2. Use a friendly and conversational tone in your follow-up emails and calls. Avoid being too pushy or aggressive, as this can turn off your prospect.

3. Be persistent but respectful. If you don’t hear back from a prospect after a few attempts, it’s okay to move on. However, make sure to leave the door open for future communication by sending a polite follow-up email or message.

4. Keep track of your follow-up activity and analyze what’s working and what’s not. This will help you refine your approach and improve your response rate.

Personalizing Your First Interaction

Personalization is key to building trust and rapport with your prospects. Researching and understanding your prospects’ interests and needs can make all the difference in converting an inbound lead into a meeting and eventually closing a deal.

It’s not enough to simply send a generic message to an inbound lead expressing your interest in a meeting. To stand out from the competition, you need to “show me you know me” by personalizing your first interaction with the prospect.

One way to do this is by taking a moment to research the prospect’s LinkedIn profile or the company’s recent news. Look for something you can connect with or show you understand their business challenges. This could be as simple as mentioning a common alma mater or a shared interest in a particular industry trend.

Doing this homework lets you quickly engage with the prospect on a deeper level and demonstrate your expertise in their industry. This will help build trust and establish credibility before you even meet.

Personalization also lets you showcase your personality and bring your whole self to work. Don’t be afraid to toe the line and show your prospects that you’re not just a robot sending canned messages. A little personality and humor can go a long way in building a connection with your prospects.

Proactively Booking

The prospect says they’re interested in meeting, they’re in your ICP, but as soon as you ask for their availability, they ghost you. It happens ALL the time.

One strategy to help avoid this situation altogether is referred to as proactive booking, or proactively sending a calendar invite to your prospect. This shows that you’re serious about the meeting and it also makes scheduling easier for both parties.

When a prospect shows interest in a meeting, don’t ask for their availability, and don’t assume that they’re available right away. Instead, send a calendar invite for a time that’s at least two weeks out. This gives them time to clear their schedule if necessary, and it also shows that you respect their time.

The email can sound something like, “Val, really excited that you want to meet. I know that scheduling is half the battle sometimes. I’m going to send you a calendar invite two weeks from today this time, it’s coming in just a second. Let me know if there’s a better time, and I’ll update it accordingly. Otherwise, looking forward to meeting you.”

Ghosted After Sending the Proposal

One of the primary reasons sales reps get ghosted after sending the proposal is that they send it too early, before establishing key information about the deal.

Before creating a proposal, sales reps should ensure that they have gathered sufficient information about the buyer. Ask yourself: have you established BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing), and do you have a clear understanding of their challenges and needs? If not, it’s likely that you’re being ghosted because you haven’t provided enough value or information for the prospect to move forward.

It’s also important to note that just because a buyer requests a proposal doesn’t mean that they have earned the right to receive it. Sales reps should be cautious and protective of their time and the prospects time. It’s important to qualify the buyer and prove value before presenting the proposal.

Sending a proposal too early in the process can also lead to sticker shock and ultimately result in being ghosted. Sales reps need to resist the temptation to jump into action as soon as they hear a buyer request a proposal. Instead, they should take a step back and make sure that they have the necessary information to move forward. By doing so, sales reps can avoid being ghosted and increase the chances of closing the deal.

How to Capitalize on Being Ghosted

Once you’ve been ghosted by a prospect, there are a few ways to turn the situation around and capitalize on it. Multi-threading early and often is a general best practice for all B2B sales reps.

In practice, multi-threading involves identifying and building relationships with multiple contacts within an organization, each of whom has a different role and perspective. This might include C-suite executives, functional leaders, influencers, and end-users. By establishing relationships with multiple stakeholders, a salesperson can gain a more complete understanding of the organization’s needs, priorities, and decision-making process, and can tailor their sales approach accordingly.

Multi-threading is particularly important in complex sales cycles that involve large organizations and multiple decision-makers. In these situations, relying on a single point of contact can be risky, as the sale may be derailed if that individual leaves the organization, loses interest in the opportunity, OR ghosts you. Building relationships with multiple stakeholders allows a salesperson to create a more resilient and robust sales process less vulnerable to disruptions.

Another strategy is to find new ways to personalize your interactions with the prospect. For example, if a proposal is out there and the person stops responding, you can try researching them to find common ground and use that to re-engage them. This could be as simple as referencing a recent podcast they were on and saying how much you enjoyed it or commenting on one of their LinkedIn posts about a topic you’re familiar with.

It’s also important to shift your mindset and not hesitate to ask your sales leader for help. While you don’t need to involve them in every opportunity, having their input and expertise can be invaluable for larger complex deals. If your sales leader is not great in front of clients, you can bring in cross-functional partners, such as someone from sales operations or a champion on another team to help.



Have you ever had a lead seemingly fall off the planet? We’re talking all about ghosting in this episode of Closing Time. Welcome to Closing Time, the show for go-to-market Leaders. I’m Val Riley, head of content marketing at Insightly and I’m joined today by Sam McKenna. She is CEO of #samsales Consulting, an award winning sales leader, and a brand ambassador for LinkedIn. Welcome to the show, Sam. Thanks, Val. So nice to be here. So Sam, I’m happily married, but I have heard from my girlfriends all about being ghosted on the dating scene. Is it possible that being ghosted by a lead is actually worse? Oh, you know what? I think being ghosted by a lead is actually worse. I would rather be ghosted by my date and still be successful and alone, maybe. Is that the saddest thing ever? No, I totally think that’s the stance, being ghosted by a lead is worse. All right, so let’s start about being ghosted. When you’re trying to set the meeting. So I think a lot of things happen here. One, is sometimes we will go and respond to, let’s say, inbound lead or somebody who responds to us and said we’d love to take a meeting, but we miss a critical part here. We kind of get our happy ears.. We get very excited. We’re like, oh, my gosh, somebody wants a meeting. This is great. And we do nothing but reply.. And so if you think, well, that sounds like the right move, here’s the thing. When you reply, you’re just sending that reply into the ether and you’re not building a process for making sure that that person responds. So let’s make sure they don’t ghost us. When you reply, just CC yourself or make sure you’ve got a reminder set through one of your sales engagement platforms. We want to make sure that we follow up and say, Val, I know you said you wanted to meet.. Just checking back in to make sure there’s a good time we can find, et cetera. Most reps don’t do that. They get so excited about the prospects saying yes, that they immediately reply and then forget about that person, which leaves so many leads unscheduled. I know you’ve talked about like just taking a moment and personalizing that first interaction. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Yeah, you know, what I think is interesting, even thinking about inbound leads, it’s so important that we show them, we know them. We are known for “show me you know me” thinking about how to personalize that. But imagine it takes work to even convert an inbound lead. So if we’re getting an inbound right, it’s not automatic that they’re going to take a meeting with us. So take just one second. Do a little research on them.. We still want to be urgent, right? We want to capture quickly but do a little research, take a look at their LinkedIn profile, take a look at what’s going on with the company. Find something that you can connect on.. Really knock the socks off your buyer. If instead of just saying,. I’d love to take a meeting, you do a little “show me you know me” and do that homework. Yeah. Sam, when we were meeting each other,. I know we went to rival universities so I think I threw that into one of the first messages. And I really think that it got us, you know, quickly engaging with each other on another level. Off on the wrong foot right out of the gate, Val. But you know what? Like, what a great way to show your personality. And I think sometimes we’re afraid to do that in emails or at work, but bring your whole self forward, toe the line a little bit, see what can happen. And what an amazing way to build trust and rapport even before you’ve had the chance to meet. Right. Okay, so we talked a little bit about ghosting with that initial meeting, but let’s talk about ghosting after you’ve sent that proposal. So you send the proposal, then they go dark. What’s the strategy? Yeah, so let’s actually take two steps backwards if we can. So one, I think one interesting thing is sometimes we do get people who say they want a meeting. We follow up, we follow up and then nothing. So they’ve kind of ghosted us there.. What do we do then? What do we do at that point? Right. If we followed all the right steps, one of the things that we always talk about is the proactive booking. So, Val, you tell me if this would work on you, you respond to me, you say you want the meeting, I diligently, non-annoyingly follow up with you. And then I say, you know what? I bet scheduling is half the battle. So I’m going to send you an email and I’ll say, Val, really excited that you want to meet. I know that scheduling is half the battle sometimes. I’m going to send you a calendar invite two weeks from today at this time, it’s coming in just a second. Let me know if there’s a better time that works for you and I’ll update it accordingly. Otherwise, looking forward to meeting you. How would that work for you? I mean, it feels like you’re being proactive. Also, you’re recognizing that I’ve reached out to you at a time that is convenient for me. So potentially that’s a blank spot in my calendar. Exactly. And some people just rush and say, like, I booked time for tomorrow, and I’m like, again, they’re so busy, they can’t even respond. So use a little EQ, book that out two weeks. This works like such a charm. And again, just a good way to capture that booking. Now, the ghosting on the proposal, when we send that out one important thing to think about is the reason we often get ghosted is because that person hadn’t earned the right to the proposal yet. And we just put our happy ears on and created this for them. So you’ve got to just take a step back. If you have an initial meeting and somebody says, yeah, this all sounds good, can you send us a proposal? What do we know about the deal? Do we have BANT established? Do we know their timing, their needs, their challenges, the authority, buying authority, the budget? Do we have all of that? And if we don’t or if we don’t even have two thirds of that, three fourths of that, we have to think, well, we don’t have what we need in order to make this happen. And let me give you a different example here. Sometimes we’ll get on a discovery call and somebody will ask us, Hey, we love everything you’re saying. We want to check your referrals. Well, we would never give up our referrals until we knew they were serious. Right. We want to be protective of our current customer’s time that are going to give those references for us. So we’ve got to think about is the same thing for us. Have they earned the right to this proposal just like have they earned the right to those reference checks? Make sure you’ve got what you need before you take the time to put this together, because oftentimes that proposal goes, they might look at it and then it just goes into the ether and we get ghosted. Gotcha. So you’re saying that the ghosting might be a result of the proposal coming too early in the process? Exactly. I think as reps, we’re so quick to just hear a buyer say jump and we say, how high? Right. That’s our immediate response. And we get excited about things or we even think, well, I don’t think this opportunity is quite right or quite developed, but I really want to show something advanced in my CRM. So I’m going to send out the proposal and then I’m going to show this opportunity at the 50% stage just to make myself look better when in fact we know we still have work to do to qualify and to prove value before we take the time to put that proposal together. I think I think that value is a key step because sometimes, you know, you haven’t done enough work upfront and they get the proposal and then maybe they have sticker shock. Right. Exactly. Well, even think about this too, with pricing. So we get this question a lot in discovery calls. So we’re going through we’re asking these questions or maybe we demo, but we still haven’t had a chance to truly prove value. And we have a customer who says this is all great, but how much does this cost? And as reps, we typically panic. Let’s look at it just very easy example. Let’s say we’re selling a software that was $2,000 a license per year, and let’s say our buyer said we need 100 licenses. So they say, how much is this all going to cost us? And we say, $200,000. If we say that, it’s basically on the first day you’re saying, I want to get married, have 16 kids, the person is going to run for the hills. So back to dating examples there. But instead just think about it like this. If you say we know at a minimum our licenses cost $2,000 and we have a minimum engagement of ten licenses, that is your worst case scenario. $20,000. How many licenses you buy, the tenure of your contract, the speed at which you buy. There’s so many factors that make that price go lower. So we can look at that as we continue to work through this. But for now, just know that’s your worst case scenario, highest pricing. That number doesn’t panic someone like $200,000 does. So just think about that. You give them something, it’s a foothold, but it’s not the big scary number. Right. So you said that maybe there are some ways you can capitalize on being ghosted. So it’s happened. You’re sitting there, your sales manager is like, hey, what happened to this opportunity? It seems to have evaporated. Like what happens next? Yeah. So I think one thing, just to make sure also this doesn’t happen but bring your leadership in and let’s multi-thread early in the game so that when you do get ghosted, you have levers you can pull on your internal team who have built their own connective threads. I think another thing that’s really interesting is just to think about how we need to sometimes make a little effort even for existing relationships we have. So if the proposal is out there, let’s say we don’t far along and then all of a sudden they stop responding or let’s say we have an existing customer, we have a great land and expand opportunity, but then the person stops responding to that. What do we do? We did a really cool thing with one of our female VIPs recently. We had a great conversation going, great expansion opportunities, so much need. But then she stopped responding and there’s only so many times we can just check in. We never do that, by the way, or add value so we changed it up and we employed “show me you know me.” We researched a little bit. We found a podcast she was recently on. We absorb some lessons from that, and then we use that right in the subject line as a reply to the other emails we sent and said, This resonated with us so much. It made us think about sales just wanted to say, we loved your podcast. and we got a response right away when we hadn’t before. You know, I can’t imagine you mentioned bringing in the sales leader. I can’t imagine there’s a sales leader listening to this video who wouldn’t have loved to have been brought in at any phase during a deal that, you know, that the rep might actually end up needing help with? I think sometimes the reps are hesitant to bring in their leaders and really we have to shift that. Absolutely. And think about this like we don’t want to bring a sales leader in for every single opportunity, particularly our transactional ones that have short sales cycles. We can generally work through those on our own. But when you have these larger complex deals, when you have the right decision maker on the phone and you know that this deal has legs and you book your second call, say that to the buyer and say, you know, I want to bring in some of our team as well. I think they could really contribute value to the conversation so even at call two or three, you start to multi-thread right away. And for anybody that’s listening who says that’s great, in theory, my boss is not great in front of clients, you know, or isn’t a good salesperson or jumps to the discount, now what do I do? Bring in your cross-functional partners as well. Bring in somebody that might have the same title as them. Bring in somebody from sales operations or a champion that you have on another team. There’s different ways to pull those levers, even if you’re not blessed with an incredible sales leader. Yeah, I can’t imagine the prospect not appreciating that extra effort and appreciating, you know, speaking to more than one person at your team. I mean, I just I can’t see how that wouldn’t be positively received. Exactly. And I love this, too. You know, when I saw the marketers previously, I would bring in marketers from our team and say, you know,. I want you to hear from them how they use our platform, what they do with it. And then you basically at that point,. I just pay my nails the whole time and then they have their own conversation in their own language. It’s great, but no, this is great. You also want to make sure you know that, again, the opportunity is the right size and then not to inundate them. So I’ve also been in situations where sales reps have brought 14 people to a meeting and it’s just me and my boss and I’m like, this feels aggressive, so make sure it’s a good one to one or so ratio. And not to overwhelm them. All right, Sam, this has been great. Appreciate the conversation. I’m now going to just go chat with my girlfriends at the next happy hour and I’ll be able to totally relate to them and all their ghosting problems and, you know, thank goodness I’m off the market. I appreciate you joining us, though. Thank you so much for having me. All right. So that’s going to do it for this episode of Closing Time, the show for go-to-market leaders. Be sure to subscribe, like, and ring that bell so you do not miss an episode. We’ll see you next time.

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