From Proposal to Close- How to Avoid Getting Ghosted at Every Stage of the Sales Process
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From Proposal to Close: How to Avoid Getting Ghosted at Every Stage of the Sales Process

- Venkataraman Subramanyan

In the high-stakes world of sales, one of the most frustrating and disheartening obstacles you may encounter is the phenomenon of “ghosting.” 

This term, often used in the context of personal relationships, refers to a situation where a customer suddenly ceases all communication and becomes unresponsive after the initial engagement. 

You put in a lot of effort into a customer engagement and suddenly it goes cold.

They suddenly go missing or become unavailable. 

In some “polite” cases, they will entertain you, but there will be no progress.

Has this happened to you anytime?

In this blog post, we delve into three common scenarios where ghosting can occur in the sales process and I’ll share practical advice on how to prevent it from happening. 

If this resonates with you, 

Subscribe to the CXO Sales Playbook Newsletter.

Every Friday morning, I’ll email you 1 actionable tip to get your sales teams to overdeliver. (other benefits include a big bonus and company-wide recognition :). 

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Let’s get started. 

Scenario #1. Your Proposal is Met with Silence

Imagine you’ve spent countless hours crafting a meticulously detailed proposal for a potential customer. 

You confidently submit the document, expecting a prompt response. 

Instead, silence ensues.

It’s key to understand that good customer engagement skills are not a substitute for poor selling skills. 

Don’t rush into a building and submitting a proposal. 

Always ensure a modicum of reciprocity with your customer. 

Ask them, what specific actions will be taken on their end if you send a proposal? What criteria would they apply to evaluate it? How would they choose between competing submissions?

Engage in a conversation about their next steps, such as scheduling a follow-up meeting to discuss the proposal, or setting a specific deadline for a response. 

This approach not only helps to create a sense of mutual commitment but also reduces the likelihood of your proposal being used merely for comparison purposes with other vendors.

If there is no reciprocity, then there is a possibility that your proposal will end up in what we call “column fodder”. They just want it for comparison.

Always ensure that you know the customers’ next steps, the timeline and the progress markers before you send a proposal. 

Scenario #2. Vanishing After a Proof of Concept

You have put in a lot of effort into your Proof of Concept (PoC). The customer looked very engaged during your PoC and on your query on next steps, they respond that they will “get back to you”. And you are still waiting for their call…… 

There has to be a better way

Before doing a proof of concept, it’s key to gain clarity on the following:

  1. What specific outcomes is your customer expecting from your PoC?
  2. How will those outcomes show up on their measurable business results?
  3. Who are the key stakeholders and what are their criteria for success and decision-making? 

Always remember: Never make a deal needlessly more expensive by investing in PoCs, whose criteria for evaluation are unknown.

Fully understand all the key elements of the customer’s evaluation criteria before you jump in and commit to a POC. 

Scenario #3. A Lot of Executive Engagement, But No Meaningful Progress

There are times when you spend a lot of resources when dealing with customers.

You get your customer to visit you in the office or get their teams to fly across the world to participate in Executive briefings. 

There are multiple meetings, discussions and dinners.

You go through different scenarios and gain the confidence of the customer, you also see them giving you their best attention.

Despite these positive interactions, progress grinds to a halt once everyone returns home.

It is always best to exercise a bit of caution when inviting customers overseas for Executive engagements.

I tell salespeople that they should build what I call a customer scenario prioritization sheet, where you list out all the scenarios that are most important for the customer and get it prioritized by the customer. 

Think deeply and fill that sheet with all the business outcomes that are important to your customer and how your offerings will make that possible. 

You must be able to connect the dots between your efforts, their experiences and their outcomes.

To conclude, 

  1. You should never make a deal needlessly more expensive, in terms of time, energy, money and scope.
  2. Good customer engagement skills are never a substitute for poor selling skills.
  3. Never do something for nothing.

Hopefully, these 3 scenarios around ghosting give you perspective on how you can become proactive rather than being reactive.

If this resonates with you, 

Subscribe to the CXO Sales Playbook Newsletter.

Every Friday morning, I’ll email you 1 actionable tip to get your sales teams to overdeliver. (other benefits include a big bonus and company-wide recognition :). 

Join The Tribe

Venkataraman Subramanyan is a Global Leadership Development Expert & Sales Coach. He is the Founder and CEO of Tripura Multinational. Venkat’s mission is to touch and transform a hundred million lives by 2025, and a billion lives by 2030. With over 30 years of experience, Venkat is passionate about 2 things – Leadership Transformation and Sales Acceleration. His trademarked deal qualification framework is licensed worldwide by organizations and filters over $3Billion in deals annually. He is an accredited member of the Forbes Coaches Council.

Tripura Multinational is a dynamic sales organization dedicated to empowering sales professionals and organizations to achieve unparalleled success. Originally established as a platform to address skill gaps in the sales industry, Tripura has evolved into a multi-faceted entity that offers comprehensive engagements for Sales Managers and Sales Leaders. Through the transformative power of Sales Coaching, Tripura enables sales organizations to elevate their performance from good to great and ultimately reach a world-class level. Our approach focuses on optimizing sales skills, management expertise, and leadership capabilities, helping clients plan more effectively, qualify leads better, orchestrate sales processes seamlessly, and expand their business with confidence. 

Our organisation is the trusted choice of market leaders across various industries and segments, relying on our expertise to elevate their performance to new heights. Recognized for our ability to enhance excellence, we are entrusted with the task of making the client’s best even better.

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