PCI rings in October with a 3-part Halloween-inspired blog series. First up: Frances Reimers on business relationship “ghosting.” What happens when a sales prospect suddenly disappears without warning?
If you are or recently have been single, there is a good chance that you’ve endured the behavior now referred to as “ghosting.” Ghosting is when someone you’re dating, usually for a significant amount of time, ends the relationship by cutting off all communication out of the blue with no warning or explanation. Although it never feels good to be ghosted by a potential love interest, you can at least walk away knowing that the relationship wasn’t meant to be. But what do you do when you’re “ghosted” in your professional life? What should you do when it’s a potential client that disappears?
Those who conduct business development know all too well that ghosting happens on a regular basis in the professional world. Despite your frequent and persistent follow-up, that once scorching-hot lead has now flatlined. You’ve sent the “We’re closing out the account, are you still interested?” email without any response. Nobody in business development wants to see a sale slip away, so here are a few tips to keep the sale from completely disappearing:
Get back to relationship building
It could be that you turned off your prospect by pushing too hard for the sale. Bring it back to basics and offer to take the prospect to lunch or to a concert or sporting event with no strings attached (and no talking shop). In some cases, you may realize that there was no chemistry with the prospect to begin with. When that is the case, think about building relationships with other people in the organization that are relevant to the project.
Be a thought leader
The timing might not be right for the prospect, but that doesn’t mean they won’t consider you in the future. Stay helpful and top of mind by providing the prospect with consistent, useful and unique content. This content can come in myriad forms, from a newsletter to social media posts or frequent webinars. You’re more likely to remain on the prospect’s vendor shortlist if they can count on you for useful industry info.
Phone a friend
The prospect might have something going on that has nothing to do with the sale. If you have a mutual contact you might want to inquire about the prospect. The mutual contact might be able to provide intel that allows you to move forward or let go. The mutual contact might also give an indirect nudge to the prospect on your behalf to get the project back online.
In sum — don’t get discouraged if a once-hot lead suddenly goes cold. Rekindle the relationship by reaching out, staying present, staying helpful and seeing how your network can help reignite the flame.