Complete Story


Why Prospects Ghost You and What to Do About It

By: John Chapin

As salespeople we’ve all had the situation where a decision maker told us they were interested, asked us toScreenshot 54 follow-up at another time, and now after several follow-up calls and e-mails, we can’t get ahold of them and can’t get them to return our calls. So, why are prospects ghosting you and what can you do about it?

The #1 reason you get ghosted: The prospect was never really interested to begin with. Solution: Make sure people are actually interested. If someone tells you to get back to them at another time, you can’t let that sleeping dog lie, you’ve got to ask some questions to make sure there’s actual interest. It’s as simple as saying, “Absolutely, I’d be happy to call you then. Let me ask you, are you truly interested or are you telling me to call you back because you just don’t want to tell me ‘no?” Keep in mind that the average person does not like to say ‘no’ so instead, they tell you to call back at another time so they can get rid of you for now. If they say they are truly interested, you have to go at least one question deeper and ask something like, “So, is there a particular reason you’re interested in looking at what I have?” Ideally, you’ll get into at least the first few questions of your Initial Appointment Questionnaire. That way you can qualify them a bit further. Either way, it’s important to ask direct questions in a nice way to ensure someone is truly interested.

The above works well for most call-me-at-another-time situations. That said, if they give you a long time frame like, “call me back in three months”, open with, “Sure, I’d be happy to call you back then. Let me ask you, what will be different in three months?” 


Bottom line: ask at least two questions to gauge interest. The average salesperson won’t question perceived interest because they don’t want to lose the lead. They’d rather pretend they have a real lead when they don’t.


Reason #2 you get ghosted: While the prospect may have been interested on the initial call, they’ve forgotten why, they may have even forgotten who you are and that you even called on them.

Solution: Treat your follow-up calls like a cold call. First, why does someone forget why they were interested or even, who you are? Simple, once you left their office, or ended the phone call, their regular life ensued. They got back to their 73-item to-do list, the 52 hours of work stacked up on their desk, the 46 e-mails in their e-mail box from this morning, oh, and the school nurse called because Johnny fell down during recess and injured his knee and he might have to go to the doctor. After three or four days of this, they get your follow-up call and e-mail. Do you think the prospect: a) remembers specifically what you talked about, b) remembers why they may have been interested in talking to you further, c) is in the same state of mind as the first time they spoke to you, and d) even remembers who you are and that you spoke at all? Especially if this is only your first follow-up call, the odds of the answer being ‘yes’ to all of those questions are astronomically low. To remedy this, it’s imperative that you remind them why they were interested in talking to you. After you identify yourself on the follow-up call, immediately give them your WIIFT (what’s in it for them) Statement, as you did on your cold call.


For example, an insurance agent might say, “Hi, John Smith with ABC Agency, just following up as promised. Again, I’d really like to see if we can save you up to 23.4% on your workers’ comp insurance.” Also, if they mentioned some things on a previous call, or calls, as to why they are interested in hearing from you again, repeat those. So, for example, after giving your name at the beginning of the call you might say, “Again, I’m getting back to you because I know you were interested in (whatever one, two, or three primary things they were interested in).” A quick note here: you want to use as few words as possible and you want to get the reason or reasons out quickly but, it’s critical to remind them of why they were, or might be, interested in talking to you.


By the way, you want to use this format on all follow-up calls, whether it’s the second, third, or nineth call. People need to be reminded of the benefits you can provide. They have too many other things going on to remember the reasons they should be talking to you. Whatever you do, avoid the typical follow-up call, “Hi, it’s John Smith from ABC Company, just following up as promised”. Nine times out of ten, the prospect is thinking “who?” or, “Hm, what exactly did we talk about and why did I agree to talk to him again?” Then they delete the message.


Bottom line: on every call, after you identify yourself, remind them of what’s in it for them to talk to you again.


Reason #3 you get ghosted: The prospect is simply super-busy.

Solution: Be persistent with your follow-up. Back to the 73-item to-do list, 52 hours of work, 46 e-mails, and all the other things people deal with during the day. People are busy and you’re not always their top priority. Keep in mind that 81% of appointments are set after the fourth contact and 80% of salespeople never make it to the fourth contact. You have to follow-up with people at least 13 times before leaving your final message about calling them again in six months.


Reason #4 you get ghosted: The prospect already made a decision that doesn’t involve you. Solution: Persist with your follow-up and ask for “the courtesy of a quick response.”


Here are some other things to keep in mind…

  • Use different contact methods to reach people.
  • Try reaching people at different times throughout the day.
  • Stay positive and keep a good attitude.
  • Always schedule your next call at the end of the current call and lock it down.
  • Speak with energy and enthusiasm, though not over the top, and speak clearly.
  • Again, always give people a compelling reason or two to talk to you.


John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to:  John has over 34 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail:


John Chapin

#1 Sales Rep w 34+ years’ experience, Author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards) – also the largest sales book on the planet (678 pages).



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