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Sometime last year, I shared an Instagram post about “what to do when a client ghosts you (i.e. doesn’t reply to your messages or phone calls). One person posted a comment on that post to the effect, “If they ghost me, I just block their number and block them on social media.” I thought to myself (but didn’t say), “Woah…that is a bit harsh.”

Rather than chalking up the client to be the next great emotional abuser in my life, I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that something more pressing is going on in their lives or business. A client “ghost” doesn’t mean it’s over. Oftentimes it just means the client has a temporary “more significant pain.” Let me give you an example from my person life.

The Saga of the Postponed Cabinets

A few months ago, during the doldrums of winter, my wife and I decided to finally pull the trigger on getting some cabinetry built around our fireplace. We were excited about it and started talking with a couple contractors to get some pricing.

We liked one of the contractors and he drew up some plans along with exact pricing for the project. We were headed toward approving the project and paying the deposit to get things started.

Then January came around. Winter was filled with unprecedented snow, gray skies and gloom. In addition to the unfriendly weather, we had some unexpected health challenges arise in our family. As we juggled those challenges, the thought of “adding construction” to our busy lives was just too much and we decided to postpone the cabinet construction project.

The contractor called a couple times to check on our decision making process. We told him that we were going to hold off on the project for a bit. We just had too much going on.

We still want to have cabinets built, but as I write this, we are now heading toward summer. We are booking a few trips and are excited to for the warmer weather ahead.

Everyone Is Dealing with Some “Stuff”

We aren’t the type of people who “ghost” others when we’ve expressed genuine interest in working with them. I’m not sharing this story with you to justify ghosting. I am sharing this story to highlight the fact that “people have stuff happen” that makes them delay a project. Live, for everyone, is filled with unexpected challenges. We are all just trying to juggle our stuff.

I prefer assuming that a potential client who ghosts me “just had some stuff” that became a higher priority to them for the time being.

A client ghost doesn’t always mean “No.” More often it means, “Not right now, I’m dealing with some other stuff at the moment.

What Should You Do When a Client Is Ghosting You?

If our contractor was doing his “sales” job, he would be wise to check in with me once a month, or so, with a message like this, “I know you guys were excited about the cabinets. We would still love the work with you when the time is right. Just let me know.”

And maybe the following month he could text me something like this, “I know life gets busy. Just texting you to stay on the radar if you decide to move forward with the cabinets we were talking about.”

Whether I reply or not, the contractor is STILL on my radar. The touchpoint still worked. When “life settles down a bit” and we are officially ready to start the project, the contractor who kept in contact with us will undoubtedly be the first person we call.

Everyone Is Dealing with “Stuff”

People get busy. Everyone has stuff they are dealing with. And the people who are trying to grow a business seem to have even more things that might delay starting on a project… even if they seemed excited about it during your previous conversations.

Make your touchpoints. Stay on their radar. Don’t assume that a ghosting client isn’t interested. Many of them will appreciate your consistency and can be converted into future projects.

Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.