How to stop being ghosted in business

So how to stop being ghosted?

Yesterday we talked about the explosion in business ghosting, how it is no good for anyone but looks very much like it is here to stay as the new de facto response to a proposal.

Today we are going to talk about what you can do to limit your exposure to ghsting and the amount of time it wastes.

1) Qualify out in the first place

Take the time to think about what you are going to get out of a request from a potential client and what the chances of that actually coming to fruitition and then act accordingly. Don’t let your good nature provide the information requested just because you have been asked to do so. It is after-all what nice human beings do, they help other human beings out because they wre asked to do so.

But your ghostee knows this.

So for example, at Fresh Milk Software we get a lot of enquiries from people imposing time constraints on when they need this information. It usually goes something like this. ‘Hi, I am some growing company and I have seen your software and I am very interested. I really need to make a decision on it this week so can you blah, blah, blah’

This is a classic close where the potential customer has created a compelling event, encouraging you drop what you’re doing and prioritise a response to their requests so that  you don’t lose out on an opportunity.

But the reality is, this type of enquiry never goes anywhere and you will be ghosted. By all means send them something if it doesn’t take any time, but then don’t expect anything back. Think about it. Who leaves themselves that short amount of time to make what should be a big and important decision? Only someone who already has made the decision and maybe looking for a benchmark or a sanity check to reassure themselves and re-affirm the decision they have already made to purchase from your competitor.

In fact, the chances are they actively do not want to purchase your product because they will have to re-assess what they think they already know. However, they will waste your time to give themselves the peace of mind they are looking for.

Similarly, on the service side, we get many, many enquiries from people doing the same thing. ‘My boss has asked me to get this to her by tomorrow.’ Or ‘This tender needs to be returned by Monday’ from someone you have never done any business with. These are unsolicited requests from non-decision makers looking for you to get them to do their job for them with a time pressure close similar to the one above. So again, unless it is painless for you to get them what they want – and you really want to, just don’t bother with these. They will not bother with you once they have what they want.

2) Charge for your knowledge and expertise

This is a quick way to gauge whether someone is messing you around and likely to ghost you once you have given them what they want. Ask them for some money to provide them with what they want.

So, for example, if we suspect that someone is not genuine in our flooring company we offer them a ‘measurement service’. That is a charge for coming out to them to give them the measurements. Often this is what they want for free so they can collect multiple quotes from potential vendors and select the cheapest – but at your expense because you have wasted your fuel and time so they can punt the quote around. So, we simply offer that service for a price and then we are happy to do it.

On the software side when they have a long list of complex integration questions we invite them to purchase our set-up and installation service or offer them a number of days consultancy.

It is not always easy to do this, especially for new companies just starting out that feel vulnerable and are chasing clients to get established. But nevertheless, if you don’t value your products, your time and your services then no-one else will.

3) Get face-time with them

Those people that are likely to ghost you are often those that lack self-confidence. They are afraid of confrontation and dread rejection. Thus, they find it much harder not to respond if you have made a physical connection with them and had a face to face meeting. So wherever you  can, if the opportunity is worth it, meet face to face. If you can’t do that facetime or Skype with them to deepen their perception of a connection.

Of course if you have a sociopathic ghost it won’t make any difference what you do.

What do you do when you are ghosted?

Chances are you are not going to get any response from whatever you do. If you persist you might get a cease and desist type of response which means you haven’t gained anything either.

The best I have heard is to send a last email saying ‘Are we going to give up on this one? Which is a last friendly reach out.

You can post on their Google reviews site or some other medium but it really makes you look bitter and twisted and then they have gained the upper hand from a morals perspective.

So my advice is to move on and forget about it. Sometimes, just sometimes they come back desperately needing something from you again and then you have a serious case of schadenfreude or Epicaricacy (the modern English version I am lead to believe)  to deal with.


Leaving it on a positive note 😊, this has happened on a few occasions to us the most memorable one was not personal but for someone in the office.

So, a potential prospect led us a merry dance,  we (as a company) spent hours with him on demos, answered his endless questions, made several client visits and even took him for  lunch and then… he ghosted us. Nothing, nada.

Several months later he got in touch with a jokey  ‘you know how it is’ reach-out email and to tell us he had to purchase the software because it was a stipulation of the insurance company (that just happened to be a client of ours) that he was about to sign a deal with and could we come and see him again. You can guess what happened there. Schadenfreude.