You know when you’ve been “ghosted.” No, I’m not talking about when a love interest stops returning your calls and text messages (that’s your business, not mine). Instead, I’m talking about when a lead, prospect, or even a client, suddenly falls off the map, and you never hear from them again.

When someone you’re trying to do business with stops communication without warning, it’s really frustrating. Unfortunately, it happens all the time.

Top Reasons Consumers Ghost Businesses

Smart business owners know not every lead will convert into a paying customer or client. Regardless, you do everything in your power to communicate well and provide excellent customer service in the hopes they will.

You can work yourself to death providing the perfect experience. Still, people will ghost you.

Why do so many people still walk away from your business without explanation?

They’re not convinced they need what you sell.

When you went into business, you probably had a pretty good idea of whether or not your product or service would appeal to the masses, or if it had a smaller, niche target consumer.

If what you sell appeals to the masses, great. If it’s fairly essential, it’s less likely to contribute directly to your business’s ghosting problem.

But if your product is more niche, however, you may have a tough time. If you sell something non-essential that relies on consumers having expendable income? A little tougher.

Do your best to ensure you understand each lead, prospect and client’s needs so you can communicate your business’s value proposition sooner rather than later. Use terms they can understand and relate to. Talk less about your product or service and more about how their lives will improve after purchasing.

They’re afraid to break the bank.

The more expensive or complex your product or service is, the lower your conversion rate is likely to be (on the whole). You probably share estimates you’re proud of and endure lengthy sales processes…but still come up short every now and then. You probably also remember prospects who, at some point along the way, decide your business isn’t a good fit, but fail to communicate that.

The best way to protect yourself against consumer sticker shock is to use the tried and true sales tactic of gaining affirmations throughout every sales conversation. Confirm potential customers are in agreeance with what you’re saying with “yes” or “no” questions, and do it often. These regular check-ins make it much easier to predict when a consumer isn’t as invested as you might have hoped.

If you sell even bigger ticket items, like vehicles, homes, home renovations, or in-ground swimming pools, you might consider conducting a credit check early in the bid process. This is another way to weed out not-so-serious window shoppers.

The competition lures them in.

Sometimes the competition swoops in at just the right moment (the wrong moment for you, of course) and steals your customer. Perhaps they use special promotions and giveaways to do it.

The best way to get ahead of the competition is to keep tabs on what they’re up to. Chances are, they use the same marketing channels you use to market to a similar or nearly identical target audience.

Follow their social media accounts, sign up for their newsletters, and check in with their website regularly. By understanding what the competition is doing to win new business, you’ll be able to preempt their attempts to carve market share away from yours.

Pro tip: Thryv’s social media manager helps you view the competition’s posts from one screen. You can even clone them and customize them to fit your business, so you never fall behind.

They get spooked.

It’s entirely possible your ghosting problem has little-to-nothing to do with you, and everything to do with your reputation. Particularly, your online reputation.

91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Those statistics are especially relevant to small businesses. On one hand, if your local community loves you, you have a huge opportunity to outshine the big guys on business listings and review sites. On the other hand, a few missteps, paired with your failure to address issues when reported online, could spook new customers or turn them away for good.

The best way to understand if your reputation is causing scaring away potential business is to check your ratings and reviews online. It can be hard to know everywhere your business information exists online, especially if you don’t actually own all of your online listings. Thryv helps businesses lock their online listings, keep tabs on their online mentions, and respond on the spot.

You put the nail in your own coffin.

Related to your reputation, the issue could also have less to do with the product or service you sell and more to do with how you sell it and the customer service you provide. If you don’t align your staff with a solid process for interacting with customers, you have a major issue. One little hiccup can easily ruin a deal in the works.

Also, if you’re not asking clearly and confidently for the close, you’re practically asking for leads and prospects to walk away from your business.

Don’t Get Ghosted This Holiday Season

Leads, prospects and clients don’t have disappear unexpectedly. It’s on you to keep the lines of communication open, and stay on top of how your online presence (and those of your competitors) is affecting your business.