The Art of Following Up: Preventing Ghosting in Your Agency

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In this episode, we delve into the common problem of ghosting agencies face when prospects fail to respond after receiving a proposal. Rob shares how agencies can prevent ghosting by better qualifying prospects before sending proposals, better understanding their budgets and timelines, and building strong relationships from the beginning. We also explore how creating a sense of urgency and providing clear next steps can help move prospects towards a decision while following up effectively and being tenacious in pursuing them can increase the chances of closing a deal. 

Tune in to discover how to tackle ghosting and win long-term business.

Time Stamp

[00:00] Introduction: Rob introduces the topic of ghosting in the agency world, and provides a brief overview of the key facts that will be discussed in the episode.

[02:07] Qualifying Prospects: Rob explains the importance of properly qualifying prospects to prevent ghosting. He discusses how agencies can better understand a prospect's budget, timeline, and overall fit before agreeing to send a proposal.

[04:01] Building Relationships: Rob emphasises the value of building strong relationships with prospects from the beginning of the sales process. He explains that by positioning yourselves as experts and understanding the prospect's needs, agencies can increase their chances of winning and retaining long-term business.

[4:58] Creating Urgency: Rob shares tips on creating a sense of urgency in the sales process. He discusses how clear next steps, deadlines, and time-limited offers can help move prospects towards a decision.

[6:39] Following Up: Rob emphasises the importance of following up effectively and being tenacious in pursuing prospects. He shares tactics for following up with prospects, such as using personalised messaging and checking in regularly.

[08:41] Conclusion: Rob summarises the key takeaways from the episode 


“Preventing ghosting begins by qualifying prospects thoroughly. It's not about rushing to get a proposal in front of them, it's about truly understanding their needs and identifying whether they are a good fit for your agency." - Rob Da Costa
“By positioning yourself as an expert and getting to know the prospect's business, you can build trust and confidence that you are the right fit." - Rob Da Costa
“Following up is key to prevent ghosting, but it's important to do it effectively. Focus on creating urgency and clear next steps, and don't be afraid to be tenacious in pursuing prospects." Rob Da Costa

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 Full Episode Transcription

Welcome to The Agency Accelerator, the podcast for marketing agency owners who want to grow their businesses faster and more profitable. I'm your host, Rob Da Costa and today's episode is all about ensuring that your prospects don't ghost you. Now, ghosting is a common problem for many agencies and it can be really frustrating and demotivating when you put so much work into getting that proposal across in a short deadline and then can't get hold of the prospect again. However, with the right strategies, you can prevent ghosting and keep your prospects engaged. And that's what we're talking about in today's episode. So let's get started. I'm Rob de Costa, and this is the agency Accelerator Podcast. As someone who has stood in your shoes, having started, grown and sold my own agency, I know just how it feels in the ups and downs of agency life. So this podcast aims to ease your journey just a little by sharing mine and my guest's experiences and advice as you navigate your way to growing a profitable, sustainable and enjoyable business. Does this sound familiar? So someone has asked you to write a proposal. They seem like a good fit client, but they've given you a fairly short deadline to write it. So you spend hours and late nights getting that proposal written in a rush and you get it sent over to the client and then you try and follow up a few days later, but you just cannot get hold of them. And you try emailing them and you try phoning them and they just don't return your call. Isn't this so frustrating that it happens when we get ghosted by our prospects? And in today's episode of the podcast, I want to share with you some ideas to give yourself the best chance of not being ghosted when you have agreed to write a proposal or do a pitch or get some information over to a potential client and then they just won't respond to you when you try to follow up. I know this is a bit of an epidemic right now for agencies because I have this conversation with my private clients and my group coaching clients as well, where they have tried many things, but this ghosting still happens. So let's start off by understanding some of the reasons why you might get ghosted when you have agreed to send a proposal. And one of them is because you haven't qualified the proposal well enough in your enthusiasm to win the prospect. You agree to write the proposal, but you haven't really done your due diligence. So this is one of those slow down to speed up moments. This is one of my favourite expressions where you really need to slow down and you need to make sure that the client is not just a good fit for your agency in terms of they are an ideal target client and they fit in the niche that you work in, but they genuinely have a budget and they genuinely have a timescale. So you want to make sure that you are understanding all of that before you even agree to speak with them, let alone put pen to paper and write a proposal for them. You also want to understand what the landscape is. Are they asking lots of agencies or have they reached out to you directly? What is the timescale for them to make a decision? And if you do all of that due diligence then you are going to give yourself the best chance of not being ghosted. Now, it doesn't mean you won't get ghosted, but it means you're giving yourself the best chance to end up focusing your time you're giving yourself the best chance to focus your limited time on those really hot prospects. Rather than those kinds of time-wasting info-gatherers who are actually just asking for a proposal so they can kick their incumbent agency up the backside. Or maybe they're thinking about engaging your service but they don't really know how much it costs. So they're using you to give them a sense of what their budget should be. And when that happens, it's very rare they'll actually use you. Six months later they'll have put a proper brief together because now they understand the budgets and they will go somewhere else. So that's kind of like the first part where we are understanding why Ghosting might happen. And what you need to do is to slow down, to speed up and better qualify your prospects and actually walk away from those that you instinctually feel may not be a good fit or are potentially time wasters. Now, once your prospect has got through that kind of qualification process, you need to make sure that you are building a strong relationship with them from the beginning. So maybe they've just sent you an RFP and you haven't had any conversations with them. Well, you need to make sure that you do speak to them on the phone and that you understand their need, and how their need fits in the broader context of their business. And you can start building some rapport and some kind of relationship and also positioning yourself as that trusted partner and that expert rather than that imbalanced relationship of customer supplier which a lot of agencies find themselves in and then they kind of get beat up by the customer or they're seen as a very tactical offer. So by building a strong relationship from the outset, you start to position yourself in a peer-to-peer way and you start positioning yourself as the expert consultants. And of course that gives you more chance to not only win the business but retain it for the long term. Now, whether you like it or not, creating kind of a sense of urgency is always going to be a good way to help get people across the line or to make them make a decision. Because I think human beings are fundamentally pontificators and if we don't create some kind of deadline, we'll always put off tomorrow what we can do today. So that is true in terms of your prospect making a decision. Now, one of the ways you can decide without sounding too salesy or pushy is just to talk about the availability of your team and how you can schedule time with your team to work in this period of time. But if obviously they delay it, then that would delay the start of their project as well. So that's something that you definitely want to do, is create that sense of urgency with your prospects. And you also need to make sure that you are really clear about your next steps and some deadlines for their decision-making and of course, understanding their deadlines as well. And perhaps the biggest, most important tip I'm going to give you in this episode is that before you send your proposal, make sure you have a date in the diary to either go through the proposal or debrief with them or get some feedback. If you don't get that date before you've started writing the proposal, then before you send the proposal off, just call the client up and say, I forgot to include something in the proposal, can we have a quick chat? And on that call you say, I forgot to get a date in the diary when you've had a chance to read this, or indeed a date for you to walk them through the proposal. So that is super important to get that next step so that you can keep the conversation going and you don't end up being ghosted. And my fourth tip is about following up effectively, and that is that you need to be a Rock filer. And what I mean by that is that if you are going to invest the time, energy and money in writing a proposal, then you also have to be super tenacious in following it up. And there are really only two, maybe three outcomes from follow-up, which is hopefully, yes, I want to work with you, or no, I don't want to work with you, or potentially I want to work with you, but we can't actually go ahead right now. Although that's not really a good reason because if you qualified them earlier, you would know what their time scales are. So the only option you haven't got is just to let it fizzle away to nothing because they've ghosted you and you feel a bit uncomfortable about following up. So I want you to be really tenacious and be a rock violer and pursue it to the nth degree. And if you've applied some of the tips I've already shared, then that won't be so difficult. And don't just do it by email. I think a lot of people like hiding behind email and of course, the other person can hide behind it as well. So make sure you've got their phone number and pick up the phone and actually speak to them to keep that relationship going and that momentum going to the point where they make a decision. Now, you can use technology to support a lot of this by putting reminders in your diary, by using some automated follow-up sequences, although I would really encourage you to be very personal about this and use things like video messaging, which is a great way of keeping the prospect engaged. I use Loom for all of my follow-up when I'm giving feedback to people and you can perhaps use it in this case as well if you can't reach them on the phone. So make sure that you have a CRM system that's reminding you when you need to follow up. Do it in a timely manner and always pick up the phone if you possibly can. So there you go. Those are my sort of five tips on how to give yourself the best chance of not being ghosted after you have sent a proposal to a client. Now, I can't guarantee that if you apply all of this, you still won't get ghosted, but I think you're giving yourself the best chance of not being ghosted. Now, the key to all of this is starting by having clarity on who your ideal target customer is and your niche, and making sure you are qualifying people really well before you agree to write a proposal. I always say to people that your time should be the inverse of the sales funnel. So if you think of the sales funnel, it's wide at the top, where you've got lots of kind of cold potential clients dropping in. In the middle, you've got the prospect stage, which is what we're talking about, which is narrower. And then the bottom, you've got the bottom of the funnel where people drop out as customers. Well, your time is the inverse of that. So a triangle, if you like. So at the top of the sales funnel, you really shouldn't be investing much time, and then the further down they get, the more of your time you should invest. This is why you want to use some of these qualification tools early on to qualify people in or out before you even jump on a call and spend half an hour talking to them to find out that they've only got £500 to spend on a brand new website. So make sure you apply all of this and you will give yourself the best chance of not being ghosted. As I said, this is something that I see going on with both my private clients and the members of my self-running agency implementation group. So I know it will be an issue for you and if you're lucky enough to have never been ghosted, then good for you, but it may well happen in the future. It certainly happened to me and as I said, it's happened to my clients. So apply those five tips and you're giving yourself the best chance of not being ghosted. So thanks for tuning in to today's episode of The Agency Accelerator. I hope these strategies have helped you and got you thinking a bit differently. And if you enjoyed the episode, please do consider leaving a review and I tell you exactly how to do that in the show notes. And of course, share this episode with your colleagues as well so I can reach more people, which means I can impact more people. But other than that, have a great rest of your week and I will see you next week for the next episode of The Agency Accelerator podcast.

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