Ghosting is the Worst Response

Checking for a reply, there’s no “yes”, there’s no “no”, there’s nothing. You’ve been ghosted.

I’m imagining a text or email conversation around a business transaction, but this applies widely. Let’s look at an inspired-by-true-events example. I was recommended on Facebook as someone that could deliver a marketing website. A carpet cleaner reaches out. (Real story: not a carpet cleaner.) He asks me to set up a time with his assistant to discuss details, which I do, and it takes about an hour.

Then, nothing. The owner hasn’t replied. The assistant hasn’t replied.

The plot thickens: I get an alert three weeks later on Facebook Messenger from the business owner. Excited to perhaps finally have an answer, I log in. What I got is obviously a mass-sent promotional message. I sent back a message, “Hey, good to see you doing marketing. Did you come to any decisions about the website work I discussed with your assistant?” Response: a thumbs-up emoji. My question, no reply.

Ghosted. Sucks.

I am totally okay with a “no.” Since I sell a higher-end product, I get “no” plenty of times because it is often difficult to know up front if I’m dealing with a price-only prospect. Those that say “yes” recognize value and are almost always great clients. As they advise cold-callers, if you make $1000 on yes and nothing on no, with a 10% close rate, you can think of every call as worth $100 regardless of the answer. Every no is one step closer to the yes that will come.

I’m even more okay with a “yes”, of course. Feel free to pick up the phone, call me, and just say “yes”. I can fill in the question for you after.

If I stop with just the above, then I’m simply whining. What I want to point out is how the person doing the ghosting damages his own business.

That he is the prospective buyer and I am the prospective seller in this particular transaction has two effects. First, it is true that I am not owed a response one way or another. Second, it is also true that the situation could be reasonably reversed in the future. In fact, it could be reversed many times: He is considering one purchase from me, but I could purchase from him and could also refer many others to purchase from him.

This carpet cleaner (not his real profession) has demonstrated through actions how he values business communications. Instead of granting the courtesy of a reply, regardless of his decision, he has avoided answering (which eventually is understood as a “no” or at least a “not now.”) In addition to the time I gave to answer his questions, I am spending more energy on follow-up until I come to that conclusion on my own.

Now say I need my carpets cleaned, or someone I know has that need. What is my experience with this particular guy? “Ghosted. Sucks.”

I give referrals, a lot of them. After eight years of business networking in Maryland, everyone I knew understood that if they needed ANY service, they could call me up and I would either have someone I knew could do it or that I could find someone recommended promptly. I don’t have quite the breadth of reputation and circle in Vegas yet, because it takes time, but there are some people that already ask me like that.

How much business does the ghost block for himself by not responding?

One more quick counter-example: I had a meeting about website updates with a woman who owns a home care company (her real profession.) Let’s call her Charlita Teagues, at At Peace Home Care with website address, because that’s her real name and company and website address.

I told Charlita a price. She immediately said, “I would never pay that for this, I don’t have that budget.” This was in no uncertain terms and while I had a very awkward moment right then, I moved the conversation to how to find her someone else that could do what she wanted within her budget. We parted company on good terms.

I respect Charlita because she answered. That responsiveness reflects well on how I will expect her to run her business. It built trust with me and if you need someone to handle home care, I suggest you call her. It wasn’t the specific answer that mattered, it was the fact there was an answer at all.

My suggestion: stop ghosting and say no respectfully. What you are actually ghosting isn’t that one person, but all the future business that could come from them and their connections.

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