Ghosting in GovCon

Ever been ghosted? It’s not just for those navigating the dating scene. It happens in business…a lot.

Ghosting is essentially the act of having someone you are engaged with disappear on you completely. No returned phone calls, no emails, no texts. What’s worse is that the person who ghosted is still very much alive and well. Professionally, you could still see them at networking events, posting on LinkedIn, or even receive their newsletter. They just clearly don’t want to talk to you or your company, and there was no reason or rationale given.

Here are some common examples and potential reasons for why someone would ghost:

  • Active Candidate – this happens more and more these days and it drives recruiters absolutely nuts. When the market is hot, active candidates may be playing employment offers off each other and your offer wasn’t the best. You may have had a great phone screen, schedule an interview and then the candidate doesn’t show up and you never hear from them again. They may also have decided to stay with their current organization and “ghost” to pretend they never strayed. Another reason is that their spouse may have felt it wasn’t best for the family, and the candidate didn’t want to come back with “my wife/husband doesn’t think it’s a good idea”. Finally, they may just not like your company based off an interview, glass door reviews or rumors in their network and don’t want to hurt your feelings.
  • Teaming Partners – How many times has your company signed a teaming agreement and then absolutely NOTHING happened as a result? Workshare was promised, executives had visions of revenue…and then nada.

    Common reasons for ghosting here include:
    – the teaming partner deciding to no-bid (and does not want to admit they wasted everyone’s time)
    – wanting to take you off the street as a potential competitor (potentially increasing their chances of a win, but nothing for you)
    – they suffer from shiny syndrome…where every new bid seems like an amazing opportunity with the right teaming partner, only they don’t have the resources to deliver.

  • Prospects – To the ire of sales folks and BD teams everywhere, prospects will spend hours of the team’s time in meetings, phone calls, proposals, and follow up, only to completely vanish. What makes a hot lead go completely stone cold? Loss of funding, their needs changed, or they really were just shopping rates and went with a lower cost option, but don’t want to tell you in case they need you if the lower cost option doesn’t work. We’ve also seen where an eager beaver goes to the trouble of finding a proposed solution for whatever ails the company, only to not have the resources or approval to move forward.

So, what can you do to reduce ghosting? Stay on top of active candidates and make sure you respond to any inquires quickly. Treat your candidates, and your employees as valued and your reputation will be a huge asset. Not everyone cares about if you have a foosball table in the break room.

They want to know, “do you do what you say you will and are people treated with respect?” That’s what matters.

Think through teaming partnerships and don’t be too quick to sign any paperwork (other than an NDA). Look into your perspective teaming partners’ background and ask questions in the industry. Some of the large System Integrators are well known for locking people up in exclusive teaming agreements, with nothing to show for the teammate.

Look at how you are prospecting. Drill down on questions in the initial interactions that will save you from endless, useless follow up. Critical Questions – do you have the budget established and authorized and how much is it? Who is making the final decision? When is the company looking to make a decision and move forward?

Finally, know that it’s an incredibly small world, despite how large the industry is. Reputations for ghosting do come out and people DO talk. Listen to the grapevine before thinking you’ve landed an amazing candidate/teaming partner/prospect. Sometimes they disappear…like a ghost.

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