Stop being ghosted by your customers


Ryan Dohrn | for publisher and publisher

Ghosting is a relatively new term that describes a phenomenon familiar to most salespeople, especially those of us who sell advertising. “Ghosting” someone is to suddenly cut off contact, without warning or explanation.

Every ad salesperson encounters this once in a while when a customer suddenly gives you “the silent treat.” Despite all efforts to connect, the customer does not respond inexplicably. The challenge is to keep the customer engaged, especially after a sales call. I have discovered strategies that help keep the lines of communication open.

STRATEGY: Manage expectations

At the start and end of each sales call, be clear about meeting expectations and plans for follow-up. For example, I could start the conversation with, “Thank you very much for your time today. Here are some things that I hope we could discuss, and at the end of our conversation, I would like to set up a follow-up plan. “

In other words, start your sales calls by preparing for success.

STRATEGY: Take ownership of the monitoring

After you set expectations for follow-up, follow them. Often times, salespeople take a passive approach, expecting the advertiser to contact and make the follow-up call. A proactive approach is preferable. You stay in control and a customer can be grateful for your initiative.

For example, I could end a sales call and send a calendar invitation for a quick follow-up call or a virtual meeting. That way, when the meeting appears on the advertiser’s calendar, it’s only a short engagement and less likely to be canceled.

STRATEGY: Be accommodating

We have so many ways to communicate today. While my preference is always a face-to-face meeting or a phone call, advertising clients may prefer other methods of contact. It is essential to ask the customer how they want you to follow up: walk-in or scheduled appointment, video conference, phone call, email or text. Texting is growing in popularity and some customers may prefer to communicate this way. However, given the personal nature of texting, it’s important to get permission before texting.

Customers are slowly becoming more comfortable with face-to-face meetings, but as someone who has survived COVID-19 (and wouldn’t wish my worst enemy), it’s important to be safe and to put the customer at ease. I find that most of the advertisers I work with agree with face to face meetings.

In-person meetings tend to be more effective than virtual meetings, and we know that virtual meetings are better than phone calls. But the goal is the same: to be in front of your advertisers. Having time face to face, or as close to that experience as possible, is essential to being an effective salesperson. It is also more difficult to “ghost” someone with whom you have had a face-to-face conversation and developed a relationship.

STRATEGY: Invite comments

If you feel a customer is reluctant or has concerns about a follow-up, invite them to provide feedback. For example, you might suggest, “If you think this is a marketing idea that interests you, I think it deserves follow-up, but if you think it’s not right for you, please let me know.” know. My goal here is to help and don’t waste your time. “

STRATEGY: Maximize Every Minute

Be prepared to come up with ideas right away. Participate in every call armed with a proposal full of great ideas. Too often, salespeople make the mistake of waiting until the end of the meeting to create a proposition, convinced that they can’t create one until they know the advertiser’s needs. With a little advanced work, an ad salesperson can research the advertiser’s past ad purchases, upcoming news or new products in the market, and other information that helps the salesperson create an informed and relevant proposition. During the sales call, you can tweak the finer points to better meet the advertiser’s needs, but a proposal gives you a foundation to build on; from there you can come up with options and discuss the possibilities.

If you leave a sales call and then need to create a proposal, that’s an invitation to be ghost.

STRATEGY: Be prepared

If you’re a regular reader of my column, you know my goal is to have an organized plan of attack for sales calls and follow-up expectations. I like to be a little unorthodox sometimes, because breaking failure patterns is essential to success. It is therefore essential to be prepared and to be agile.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you don’t plan, you plan to fail. In ad sales, ghosting does happen, but planning ahead for these strategies will ensure that it is less likely to happen to you.

Ryan Dohrn is a 30 year veteran of media sales, professional and marketing experience. He is an Emmy Award-winning motivational speaker and is a sales coach for over 200 media companies. Find it at

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