We’ve all been there.
After some hard work at outreach, you finally find an interested client. You talk, email, send samples, references, and friendly voicemails. You might have known that client for a few days or a few months.
Everything’s going great … until they drop off the radar entirely.You follow-up with calls, texts, voicemails, and emails. However – no matter how hard you try – you just can’t raise them. They’ve ghosted you.
What Even Is “Ghosting?”
“Ghosting” is the act of cutting off all communication with someone without any notice or explanation. Unfortunately, “ghosting” has become more and more common in the business world.
It started in romance and slowly found its way into our professional lives. Your first ghosting experience may have been after a first date, and now you’re seeing it in your workplace. But, frustrating as it may be, it all traces back to a common desire to end a relationship without drama.
Ghosting can be frustrating, disheartening, and demoralizing. Nobody likes to watch their hard labor burn up in the flame of their client’s apparent apathy. Unfortunately, it’s a phenomenon largely out of our control. This article will focus on the aspects of the relationship in our control and how we can leverage them to minimize the chance of being ghosted by clients. Let’s dive in!
1. Vet Your Clients
If you’re fishing in a sewer, you can’t complain about the quality of the catch. Similarly, if you’re not vetting your clients, you don’t have a lot of room to complain about their behavior. You need to take the time to research and ascertain if pursuing them is worth your time.
Are they in your target demographic? Do they have enough revenue to afford your services? Are they patient with deadlines and understand that you might not deliver overnight? Before hitting that “send” button, ask yourself every question that might qualify or disqualify a potential client.
The biggest mistake you can make in finding clients is a haphazard “shotgun” approach, where you simply send emails to everyone who might fit your target demographic. A more precise “sniper” approach will be more work but enormously more effective in scoring high-value clients who are team players.
2. Be Transparent
Imagine a small business consulting with an SEO agency about using their services. Every aspect of the sales call goes well until they ask about the agency’s pricing. The agency responds with a figure that’s way out of the client’s reach, and the client promptly ends the call. Now all the agency’s time spent with that client has been wasted – a situation entirely preventable with proper transparency.
Being transparent with your client is not only good business; it’s also massively pragmatic. The SEO agency could have saved a ton of time simply being up-front with their pricing in the above example. Being open with their expensive pricing may net them fewer leads overall but will yield leads of much higher value.
The principle of transparency doesn’t just apply to preventing sticker shock – it applies to everything else. The more you hide the less-appetizing aspects of your business from your leads, the more likely you will experience ghosting. As mentioned above, this practice might decrease total leads, but an increase in quality, ghosting-averse clients – a net win overall.
Transparency is essential in your entire professional life, not just with your clients. If you don’t want your potential clients to ghost you, never do the same to those who reach out to you asking for help or business advice – you’ll never know what those relationships might turn into.
Gaetano DiNardi, VP of Growth at Aura, recommends: “Never ghost anyone. Always respond, even if it seems inconvenient at the time. The path to professional success isn’t glamorous; there are tedious moments too, but they’re worth it.”
3. Keep a Servant’s Heart
No matter how comfortable you are with your clients, make sure you consistently maintain an attitude of humility and service. Never feel entitled to anything, and treat them like royalty. Remember that you’re dealing with real people paying you their hard-earned money.
If you ever act entitled with the people enabling your livelihood, you’re just asking for a friendly competitor to come and sweep your client off their feet (and out of your pocket). Always act as if you are still trying to win them for their business – because you are.
If you show your clients that you’re always ready to serve them, that will go a long way towards creating customer loyalty. So be there for your clients no matter what, and train your customer support team to have a servant’s heart.
A solid customer support experience is arguably the most aspect part of your business. If you can provide a stellar customer service experience, your clients will choose you over competitors every single time and never ghost you.
4. Perform Well and Instill Confidence
This goes without saying, but it’s essential to do an excellent job for your clients if you want to keep working with them. If you’re not giving your clients your best performance, don’t be surprised if they don’t give you theirs.
Take some time to look in the mirror and ask yourself:
- Are you easily accessible?
- Patient and not argumentative?
- Meeting deadlines?
- Delivering the quality of work promised?
A happy client will want to keep working with you, and a frustrated client won’t. So if you’re failing to deliver upon a client’s expectations, don’t be surprised to end up on the business end of ghosting.
5. Assess Their Interest and Act Accordingly
It’s good to be honest with yourself and admit that not all leads will be genuinely interested. You may run the best firm in your field, but that doesn’t mean that you should expect all clients to act like you’re the best thing since sliced bread. For example, just because a client joins your email list does not mean they’re going to buy something from you.
As you might imagine, the less interested clients are more likely to end contact with you. There may be room to revitalize some interest, but sometimes you’re just going to have to move on. If they ever expressed interest, feel free to keep sending follow-ups. However, don’t be distraught if you never hear back.
Meanwhile, do your best to stay in the minds of those who are genuinely interested. If you have a client who understands the value of your services, make sure that you’re sending follow-ups, making phone calls, and leaving voicemails. These leads are super valuable, and a solid approach to maintaining their high interest will do wonders to keep them from ghosting you.
6. Don’t Be Too Pushy
There are right ways and very wrong ways to maintain your clients’ interest. As mentioned before, following up is essential to keeping your relationships with your leads and converting them to paying customers. However, there comes the point when those friendly check-ins border on harassment and desperation. Guess what that kind of outreach leads to? Being ghosted.
That begs the question: what makes the difference between friendly follow-ups and uncomfortable advances? There are a few things to think about:
- Frequency: Don’t contact your client too much. Unless there’s something essential at stake, have an appropriate cool-down between outreach
- Medium: Imagine if a new restaurant opened near you and started DMing you on Instagram to come and try their food. That would be a little freaky, no? Instead, mail would be more appropriate in that scenario
- Tone: You may not realize it, but you may be putting off your clients by the way you phrase things. Analyze your communications for any unintended aggressiveness – passive or otherwise
If you can consistently avoid making your clients uncomfortable with pushiness, you’ll be much less likely to be ghosted. Just how pushiness is terrible for romance, it’s awful for your business too.
If you want to avoid being ghosted by your clients, treat them like you would a significant other:
- Make sure they’re right for you.
- Be transparent with them.
- Live up to your promises.
- Assess their interest honestly.
- Don’t be too pushy.
- Treat them like you just met them.
Remember, the term “ghosting” has romantic roots. This advice is good for romance, and it’s good for business. You’re dealing with people, after all.