Have you ever been ghosted by a prospective client?
Maybe someone signed up for a free discovery call. You had a wonderful conversation with the prospective client for 30 minutes or maybe even longer. They seemed like your ideal client and you immediately knew you could help them achieve their personal or professional goals.
You could tell that they were eager to get started and so you did your happy dance immediately the call ended.
Then along the line, they disappeared without a word.
If this has just happened to you, you’re probably wondering why are they not responding and how you get them to respond.
It may even be that the prospect was the one who contacted you and was eager to meet you but suddenly went missing in action.
This is called “ghosting” and it is more common than you know.
So why do these clients suddenly go dark? Why would a client call you, lead you on and start ignoring you later?
It sucks in the dating world and sucks just as much in the business world. There are several reasons why a prospective virtual assistant client might ghost you and isn’t usually about you.
In this post I will share 8 reasons why a prospective client might ghost you, steps to take when you find out you have been ghosted and how to avoid being ghosted in future. But first, in case you haven’t been ghosted, I’ll share my most recent personal experience just so you have a clear picture of what it looks like. This is important because even if I have been doing this for so long, I am not immune to ghosting.
Here’s How Ghosting Plays Out (My Most Recent Personal Experience)
Only last month I had someone reach out to me because she was interested in my services. The discovery call went very well and she said she was ready to move forward.
It was music to my ears. Her bill was about $1,000 so I was looking forward to not only helping her get the results she wanted, but hitting my income goal for the month by some extra zeros.
Everything was fine until I sent in the proposal, then she went silent. I followed up in my usual fashion and she responded saying she couldn’t afford the full amount in a single payment so we agreed on installments. It was safe because we divided the project into milestones. She was going to pay at the beginning of each milestone before I did any work.
She was excited and happy to start. I was happy and quickly filled in the blanks in my virtual assistant agreement template in minutes. Such a time saver!
I signed my part using signwell and sent it to her for signing.
After some minutes, I got a notification that she had viewed the agreement. That is one feature I love about signwell. There’s no room for “I didn’t see your agreement”.
Days later, there was no response. I followed up twice and still got no response. It felt like she disappeared into thin air, ghosting me just before signing a contract.
In my early years as a virtual assistant I would have been sad, confused, and maybe even angry that she wasted my time.
But from what I know now, that might just be looking at things from the wrong direction because ghosting is not personal..
Here Are 8 Possible Reasons Why A Prospective Client Might Ghost You
1.) They aren’t ready and are just doing it for research.
Some prospects reach out when they aren’t ready. No matter what you say or do at that point, they won’t buy in. They might work with you later. It may also be that their budget isn’t large enough for the service they need or they are spending money on something currently and can’t add more. So rather than giving you the “not right now” answer, they just opt for avoidance.
2.) They didn’t hear from you immediately or lost enthusiasm.
If a client doesn’t hear from you after your first conversation, they’ll probably move on. So make sure your client gets a follow-up call or email from you as soon as possible. I make sure I send a consultation recap email stating our discussions, conclusions, including what they can expect and when to expect it. This sets expectations and leaves a paper trail that might come in handy in future. It may also be that your pitch was interesting, the client was impressed on the phone or video but lost interest when they slept on it.
3.) They are genuinely busy and/or overwhelmed.
Prospective clients have their own lives too and may not always be available.
People hire virtual assistants because they are busy. If they get too busy, they might take a couple of days (or even weeks to reply).
Some years ago, a new virtual assistant I was coaching had a prospect who had gotten on a discovery call, agreed on price, deliverables, and other details very fast.
She was super excited and ready to start. Then the prospect went silent.
She would not reply to her calls or emails and she was left in the dark for a couple of days.
On the 3rd day, she sent her a long email giving her a piece of her mind and letting her know she wasn’t going to be at her beck and call.
When she still didn’t get a reply, she concluded that the prospect realised her services weren’t worth the 100k she asked for so she had bailed.
The prospect later reached out and explained that she was dealing with a family emergency.
The best part? Her tantrum email to the prospect was stuck in her outbox so she never received it. Thank God!
So if it appears they’re ghosting you, it’s possible they might be busy with something else or what you’re offering isn’t top of their priority list right now, so don’t give up. Your client may be interested in working with you but there may be other factors working against you. If you realise this, don’t put more pressure for a while. If they value what you provide, they’ll respond when their schedule clears up.
Remember they haven’t signed a contract so technically, they aren’t your client yet. The best you can do is follow up 3-5 times in a very non-desperate way.
I ensure I inform the client from the get go that my proposals have an expiry date. Usually 30-60 days from when they receive it. This is to prevent prospects coming back months later after I have probably raised my rates hoping to pay the old rate.
This protects you as a virtual assistant and encourages prospective clients to reach out before the duration expires.
4.) They aren’t interested but don’t know how to tell you.
It’s possible they don’t see the value, don’t have the money or think you’re too expensive. They may feel telling you will be unpleasant especially if they have a non-confrontational or avoidant personality. Because of this personality flaw, they don’t care enough to let you know they don’t see the value, don’t have the money or think you’re too expensive. This is not your fault. You aren’t oxygen so you can’t be right for everyone.
5.) They’re working with (or considering working with) your competitor.
Some prospective clients feel weird admitting that they’re working with your competitor. They may feel like they’re cheating on you or going behind your back. Most prospects like weighing their options so of course, your competitors are probably in talks with your prospective client. So if they suddenly go quiet for too long, know that they might have chosen your competitor. This is why you should have a unique selling point. If you have the exact same offer as the next virtual assistant and charge more, they might just have the upper hand. So if you charge more, make it a no brainer why your prospective client should pay more.
6.) Your solution doesn’t fit their needs.
This doesn’t mean that what you’re offering isn’t good but it just doesn’t work for that particular prospect. So even if your pitch was so captivating that it attracted them at first, they’ll draw back when they realise it’s not what they’re looking for.
7.) They are not your ideal client
If you attract the wrong people, you’ll never be able to make them see the value you provide or pay your rates. It’s either it will be too high or two low for them.
Or they might need someone who’d be available at specific times. If you’re like me and prefer to have a flexible schedule, then the relationship will never happen.
8.) Your discovery call sucked
If you aren’t able to handle client objections during your discovery calls, they’ll find someone who can. And they might not have the heart to tell you they don’t want you, so they’ll enter the ghost mode.
This is why it is important to take your discovery calls very seriously. Prepare for them and show up confidently. The client discovery call workbook is a step by step guide to help you prepare for your discovery calls, show up confidently and ace the call and then make signing up easy for your prospective client afterwards. It also contains a consultation recap email template to ensure you don’t leave prospective clients hanging after the call.
4 Smart Steps To Take If A Prospective Virtual Assistant Client Ghosts You?
If you have never been ghosted by a client, chances are that it will eventually happen. So here are 4 smart steps to take if you realise you have been ghosted. These steps have helped me win back at least 50% of clients who ghosted me in the past. I hope they bring you even better results.
Step 1: Ensure That There Was No Miscommunication
This is a no brainer. You have to make sure you weren’t caught up in a bubble during the call and heard “sure, let’s do this!” when they said “maybe” or “I need to think about things and ask my spouse”.
Additionally, you may feel a connection or vibe that wasn’t even mutual. Maybe the prospect didn’t enjoy the discovery call as much as you think they did.
Step 2: Follow Up Without Sounding Desperate
If there was no miscommunication, then you should reach out with concern. Don’t go from the place of “I need you to move on to the next step and pay me”.
Instead, ask how they are doing and state you are reaching out because you know they were excited about getting started but you understand that life gets in the way sometimes. That’s a good way to reestablish connection based on care.
They would know that you aren’t just reaching out because you want to take their money. But because you care about them and their goals. Then remind them of where they dropped off.
My favourite line is: “Have you had a chance to review the proposal? Remember nothing’s carved in stone. So I’m happy to answer any questions you might have”.
It always gets serious prospects to reconnect. By reminding them that nothing’s carved in stone, they get to open up if money is the problem or say something else they were looking forward to seeing but you weren’t offering.
One question I get asked a lot is “how often should I follow up?”
I usually say 3-5 times. However, it depends on the amount of feedback you are getting from the prospective client.
I’ve had prospective clients who were happy to jump on a quick call to iron out their concerns before signing up and others who replied to every single email.
Another thing you shouldn’t do is assume they can’t afford to pay your rates and then offer a discount. Don’t make any assumptions. Until they say they can’t afford it, they can. Don’t water down the value of your services. And if they say they can’t afford your rates, there are other ways to handle things without lowering your rates.
Step 3: Keep The Relationship Alive No Matter What
If you still don’t hear back after following up, send a final email letting them know that you have tried to reach out and gotten no response so that would be your last attempt to reach out concerning the project.
If your proposal has an expiry date (it should!), remind them of the expiry date. Tell them you’d love to stay in touch regardless of if they work with you or not and would be happy to help them when they are ready.
I can hear you asking “How can I stay in touch? What would we talk about?”
Industry news is a good place to start.
A simple “Hey, I was just going through XYZ and saw this information on ABC I know your brand strongly advocates for and your audience would appreciate a heads up”. And if they are on social media or have an email list you can follow them or sign up for their list and when you see they are doing something interesting, let them know and clap for them. The goal is to stay top of mind so that when they are ready, you’ll be the first to know. If you play your cards right, they might even recommend you even if they don’t work with you.
Step 4: Move On And Focus Elsewhere
If the prospect still ghosts you, move on.
That could just be a blessing in disguise and an indicator that they are not the kind of client you need.
See it this way, the absence of a wrong client creates room for the right client to find you. This was very true, even for me. Days later, I signed up another client for a little above the same amount. The new client was eager to get started and we completed the onboarding process in days. If that client hadn’t ghosted me, I wouldn’t have had room to take on the new client.
Trust me, you want prospective clients who see the value you bring, are forthcoming and excited to get started even if they are nervous. You don’t want to have to chase them.
So save yourself the stress and don’t think it’s about you or you aren’t good enough. It’s mostly about them so don’t let it dampen your spirit. A person’s actions says more about them than you.
How To Avoid Prospective Virtual Assistant Clients Ghosting You
I’ll be the first to say you can’t completely avoid being ghosted by a prospective client. However, you can significantly reduce the chances of being ghosted by doing these three things.
Tip 1: Attract Only Your Ideal Clients And Repel Everyone Else
In my books, doing this alone will reduce the chances of being ghosted by 50%. All your marketing materials -Social media, Website copy, Email content etc. should focus on speaking to the pain and pleasure points of your best fit clients.
So when they come in contact with your content, they should already be sold before even getting on the discovery call. A prospects decision to sign up starts way before the discovery call so ensure you are doing this right to reduce the pressure you are putting on your discovery calls. Try to share your prices or at least give a price range of what it costs to work with you so prospects who can’t afford it or aren’t willing to pay your rates won’t bother booking a call.
Repelling everyone else might seem like a recipe to lose potential clients especially if you are a new virtual assistant or desperately looking for clients. But you’ll get more people who are serious about working with you when you are upfront about who you want to help, how much you want to charge and who would be better off with another virtual assistant.
Tip 2: Ace Your Discovery Calls
I realized quite early in my business that pre-qualifying prospects before getting on a discovery call with them is gold. It sets you up for success and just weeds out unserious people.
Before the discovery call one thing you must do is set up a prospect prequalification form on your website or even free platforms like Google forms if you don’t have a website yet. Ask questions to assess if the prospect is a good fit or not.
There are other important steps to take before, during and after the discovery questions including specific questions to ask in your prequalification form, ask during the call, things to not say and how to handle client objections. If you need all that information, you should get my discovery call workbook for virtual assistants. It will make your life easier.
Tip 3: Know That Not Every Prospective Virtual Assistant Client Will Become A Paying Client Immediately or Ever
You need to make peace with the fact that not every prospective client will become a paying client. Some people might be interested but leave their dreams on the back burner. Others might move on to new ideas.
Someone might reach out because of shiny object syndrome perhaps to start an online business and need a VA but then lose the shine days later and stick with their job or start a brick and mortar business.
If you’re like me that does not work with clients who have brick and mortar businesses, that’s the end.
Other people need weeks or months to consider it and maybe save towards it. I’ve had people reach out and then sign up a month or two later. The sooner you accept that, the more easily you can avoid getting attached to any outcome.
That said, whether the prospect got swallowed by a whale, or lost at sea with no means of communication or “something came up,” you may never know. So don’t assume anything or take it personally.
Sometimes no matter what you do, a prospective virtual assistant client will still ghost you. Just make sure you do your part well to avoid attracting client who are likely to ghost you and then take the right steps if you realise you’ve been ghosted. At all times remember that it’s still possible your prospect is still interested. So don’t give up on them. Follow up before giving it a rest.
Have you ever been ghosted by a prospective client? How did you handle it and what did you learn from the experience?