Are you being ghosted by leads?

Being ghosted is not restricted to the dating world. With an increase in professional ghosting, how do we deal with leads who suddenly go cold?

Are you being ghosted by leads?

Being ghosted is not restricted to the dating world. With an increase in professional ghosting, how do we deal with leads who suddenly go cold?

If you have any role within the recruitment process, you may have found yourself at the end of ghosting. You know, when you have some excellent conversations with a prospective franchisee (or employee, or even customer) and they seem keen. Then suddenly, nothing. Nada. Zilch. All communication falls off the face of the earth, and you’re sat there reading back through messages wondering what went wrong. 

Unfortunately, the practice of ghosting has crept out of the dating world, and into the professional world. Sure, it’s disrespectful, and frustrating, but there’s no point in wondering what you did wrong. The old, “it’s not you, it’s me” phrase comes to mind – to borrow another dating ending from a bygone era. 

So, what actually is ghosting?

Professional ghosting can hit any of us at any point in a new business / work-related relationship, from recruitment and networking, to clients and collaborative partnerships. It’s when your new contact suddenly goes cold, without any warning. One day they’re hot and ready to start a journey with you, the next they’re unresponsive to all attempts you make to connect with them. 

And yes, it can leave you feeling let-down, disappointed, even confused. But it’s not the end of the world, and you can learn valuable lessons through it.

Bear in mind, it can also be experienced by your lead, and they’re the ones left reeling by your silence. A LinkedIn poll a couple of years ago, saw 93% of respondents indicating they’d been ghosted during an active hiring process. At Coconut, we’ve also had conversations with people who tried to connect with a franchise, only to find they were left hanging for information, for weeks. So they move on. And then franchise recruitment managers wonder why they don’t have a response when they finally try to reconnect.

How do I know if I’ve been ghosted?

You’ll know simply by the disappearance of a hot lead, after they’d been responsive to you. This isn’t someone who sent an initial enquiry, but then ignores further correspondence. This is someone with whom you arranged a Discovery Day, and they’re a no show. You arranged a call, and they let you go to voicemail, but never return your call. This is even someone who was about to sign the franchise agreement, but they don’t turn-up. 

Your hot lead, suddenly went stone, cold, dead. Without any explanation, or any indication they weren’t ready to onboard with your brand. 

But, why do people ghost?

Trying to make sense of human behaviour, is more than I can do in this short editorial! But, I can offer a basic insight, based on what is known about the human psyche. 

The following isn’t a definitive list, but it might help you gain perspective on your situation:

Avoiding perceived anxiety. They may have realised your franchise isn’t for them, but don’t know how to say so, without it causing – in their minds – some kind of conflict or hurt to your feelings, so it’s easier to say nothing. 

Avoiding awkward or difficult conversations. Some people don’t have the emotional tools to communicate how they feel, or why, so it’s easier – in their minds – to just disappear.

You’re not right for them. They may have been keen and super excited, but then took a look in more detail and realised you weren’t what they were looking for, after all. It’s just easier to walk away, and find the right opportunity for them.

They’re not ready to commit. They’re on the lookout for the right brand partnership, but, may be keeping options open, in case there’s something better out there. 

You gave out too much, too soon. They felt they were being pushed into a corner, and it didn’t feel comfortable – if you treat them like this now, what will you be like in the future. It’s just easier to ignore you, than deal with the aggression.

Priorities have suddenly changed. In our personal lives, we can be hit by situations which affect our priorities. Your lead may be going through something big, and everything has changed for them.

They became busy. Life happened, a day became a week, a week became a month, and now it would be embarrassing to walk back into the scene after such a long absence. It’s easier to move on. 

There may be other reasons, such as an accepted culture of behaviour, or they felt ghosted by you when they were trying to connect. There’s no one reason to encompass all your ghost leads. 

But, you can’t take it personally and, if they do come back to you, you need remain professional with them. They may be back as life settles, and they begin to feel more confident. So, understand where they’re at, their communication style, and how to work better with them in the future. 

So, what do I do to avoid being ghosted?

The million dollar question… but I’m not sure we can really do anything we aren’t responsible for in the first place. It would help to check your marketing messaging, your lead pipeline, and the people involved in speaking to those leads, just in case there is something in your process which enables ghosting to happen. But essentially, ghosting says more about the person doing it, than the person on the receiving end. 

Take into consideration the reasons why someone may have gone cold, and work with them. If they had felt you were being overly pushy, tone down your communications. Give them space to explore your opportunity at their own pace, not your timeframe. Establishing trust between you, early on in the process, is important if the ex-communication doesn’t become permanent. And see each lead as an individual person, not just as a lead. 

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask the question, “Is it a ‘no’?” to give your ghosted lead an opportunity to be honest with you about where they’re at. Listen actively, and take onboard the lessons to be learned for the next person – if it isn’t going to work out with them. 

If Coconut can help you better understand your lead funnel and process, speak to us about one of our strategy days. We can help shine a light on any gaps which you may need to look at. 

Paul Clegg
Paul Clegg