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Catfishing, Ghosting and Submarining - they don’t just happen on Tinder

Catfish: noun A person who pretends to be someone else online, often to lure in romantic prospects.

Ghosting: verb Ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

Submarining: verb Resurfacing in someone's life after ghosting them, without explaining the cause for your disappearance.

You might have heard of ghosting, catfishing and submarining as a dating trend, but these behaviours have entered the sales world too. In fact, you might have spotted these trends amongst your own prospects. So, what do you do when you experience them?



Your prospect seemed like a great prospect. They said all the right things, you arranged a meeting and it all seemed to move well. But, it comes to the meeting, you sit down to discuss the product and it becomes apparent that you’re not speaking to the right person. Or worse, you’ve had a commitment to buy and you’re speaking to the wrong person.

But, without asking ‘are you the decision maker?’, it’s not always clear who has the power to influence or commit to the product.

It’s worth remembering that everyone wants to feel important, even if the person you’re speaking to can’t sign the dotted line. As well as understanding that even if someone cannot make the commitment, they can influence.

The best thing to do is to ensure that you completely qualify your prospect. Including questions around the approval process or, who else will be involved with the project. It’s also worth spending some time researching the business through LinkedIn or the company site.



It’s a story that every salesperson knows far too well. You’ve researched, got past the gatekeeper, pitched hard and it’s paid off. You’re ready to seal the deal and then, out of nowhere, your prospect drops off the face of the earth.

First of all, you need to figure out why your prospect is ghosting. What objections had you handled during your initial conversation? Was the timing not quite right? Are you speaking to the right person?

Once you have an idea as to why your client has gone all ‘Caspar the friendly ghost’, you can start a new objection handling process. We asked some of our Senior Consultants for their advice and they suggested the following:


Ask a specific question - You’re not calling to ‘touch base’ or ‘catch up’, ask a specific question or response. Ideally with a timescale built into the question

Pick up the phone - If you’ve been emailing, then pick up the phone, vice versa if you’ve been calling, shoot your prospect an email. Switching up the way you contact your prospect can change the entire conversation.


The main thing to remember is that whilst persistence can pay off, stalking your client will not.



You had a hot prospect that turned into a ghost. You tried everything, but, nope. Not going to happen.

A few weeks later, the prospect reappears. Once again, you get back to work and, once again, they ghost you.

So, what next? Let’s start at the beginning, remember that as with most things in sales, a bad qualification is often the reason your prospect won’t sign on the dotted line. Really clarify their budget and priorities from the get-go.

If you did this, then now is the perfect time to remind that prospect of their needs. Once again, persistence pays off. Or possibly their needs have changed? You’ll never know unless you find a way to break through and resume a dialogue.


Still need some help?

If the catfish, submarines and ghosts are getting you down, then it’s time to call Pareto.

Our training will re-invigorate you and your team, and provide you with the essential techniques and strategies you need to overcome almost any sales challenge!

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