Did you know that ghosting in sales is probably costing your sales people about a fifth of their time? Read on to discover how we know that and what you can do about it.

So ghosting might be a thing now, but guess what? before the 2000s it wasn’t!

Instead you may have heard the phrase ‘Irish Exit’ (when you leave a party without telling anyone you’re leaving), or even ‘Doing a Houdini’ which refers to you getting out of a tricky situation as if by magic.

The rise in social media and online dating apps (no we are not going into those here, except in passing!) has definitely been a factor. It’s just easier to ghost someone than to have an actual conversation.

The trouble is, ghosting has an impact – a study by Vorsight in 2022 found that the average salesperson spends about 21% of their time leaving voicemails, sending emails and following up with prospects who ultimately never respond.

So a fifth of a salesperson’s work life is wasted!!!!!

Not to mention the stress and frustration this causes, not only for them, but up the line as they struggle to give accurate forecasts.

Here are some of the reasons why ghosting is so common during the sales process, plus some suggestions about what you can do to mitigate and reduce the impact of it:

Fear of Confrontation

Loads of people don’t much like salespeople or conversations with salespeople. You’re shocked I know! However, if your sales team are a bit pushy, you may find customers ghosting them to avoid having an uncomfortable conversation. Of course prospects could just say ‘no’, but if they think the conversation might put them under pressure, then why wouldn’t they take the easy route and just not respond?

And be honest, you’ve probably done it too at some point in your life.

This can be a particular issue with prospects if they have had a bad experience in the past – believe it or not, some salespeople might not be as good or as ethical as yours and, once bitten, twice shy.

Deal with this by training your team to explicitly state that it’s OK for prospects to say ‘no’ and emphasise that you value honestly in the sales process. That way, your people are more likely to get honest feedback and be clear when a deal has been lost.

If your team are encouraged to get a definite answer one way or the other, then it frees them up to concentrate on the deals where they may genuinely have an impact.

Lack of Interest

Prospects might simply not be interested. Or they were interested, then they weren’t. Perhaps something else became more of a priority – stuff changes fast in business and sometimes it can’t be predicted.

This can be particularly frustrating during a long or complex sales cycle.

So keep reminding your prospect how your offering solves their problems or helps them achieve their goals BUT be super respectful of their time – maybe they have got the schedule from hell and if you interrupt, you become annoying rather than helpful.

Demonstrate genuine interest and understanding of their situation and keep focussed on them not you.


It’s ironic isn’t it that in today’s world, communication has never been easier, but also people feel more overwhelmed, especially by unwanted sales pitches? Unfortunately, your pitch might also be perceived as unwanted too.

Deal with this by these simple rules:

1.      Personalise it – tailor your outreach to providing valuable insights for their industry (or interests)

2.      Keep your messages concise, clear and easy to digest

3.      Follow up regularly to keep top of mind

I had one client who emailed his prospect an industry report every month for 2 years before he got an order – it was useful, it was brief, it was tailored and he kept his phone follow up to a minimum.

When researching this, I tried to uncover whether ghosting was more of a challenge in the UK than the US – Americans have a reputation for being more direct and giving a definitive ‘no’ whereas in the UK we often say ‘I’ll think about it’ as a way of avoiding perceived offence by giving a no. I’d be interested to hear your perspective on this particular theory, as I was unable to find any credible statistics to support it. I wouldn’t be surprised though if the statistics are pretty consistent, with relatively small variations.

So is there anything you can do come back from a ghosting situation?

Well, I operate on the principle that if they are not speaking with you, then you have nothing to lose! So here are some other tips that can sometimes work.

  • When you call and get no response, after several attempts, send a text saying “Hi [name] I’m a little bit concerned I’ve turned into a stalker. Would you be kind enough to let me know if I’m reaching out too much and I’ll stop”
  • Keep in touch via social media. Comment and react to their posts, particularly on LinkedIn. Continue to add value and engage. It will keep you top of mind.
  • Send them an email inviting a ‘no’. Something along the lines of “Hi [name] I am conscious I keep contacting you for an update. If it is a ‘no’ this time, would you be kind enough to let me know, so that I stop? I really don’t want to waste your time and if we are not a fit for this project, I really will understand. Thank you.”
  • Use the “I saw this and thought of you” approach. It can literally be anything – a social media post, an article, a joke, something from a trade magazine. All you do is send it to them with a simple covering note – “Hi [name] I saw this and thought of you.” Sign your name. If you can do it as an actual letter in an actual envelope with actual handwriting and an actual stamp even better. No Call To Action, no invitation to get in touch – just that simple note.

Finally, remember that if every outreach from you is chasing the deal, you are failing to build relationships. One of the reasons the last example works so well, is that you are not pitching – and if they are ghosting you, it might be because they don’t want to have a sales conversation, so a simple message with no expectation of a response takes the pressure off.


You know that thing where you tell your children something and they ignore you, but when a stranger says the same thing, they listen enraptured, like it’s The Oracle? It’s often the same thing with sales training – (I know it’s not fair, in fact it’s annoying, but it is true), so if you suspect your team aren’t listening to your own excellent advice, it may be time to call me in, so I can shake them up a bit!

Book a slot in my diary here and let’s talk. We can sort them out together!

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