When Prospects Give You the "Silent Treatment"

Real Estate Broker/Owner with McCormick Partners Realty


If you've been selling for a while, you've probably had at least one experience in which your prospect suddenly started giving you the "silent treatment."  When this happens, it's natural to feel anxious and confused. You may tell yourself, "It's not as if I'm the one who did anything wrong. I put everything into nurturing the relationship. And how can I rescue the sale if I can't even get them to talk to me?"

There is a pressure-free way to reestablish communication when your prospect starts giving you the "silent treatment." But first, it's important to understand why the situation has happened in the first place.

Most of us who sell get caught up in "hopeium," a comical term that means we focus our hopes and desires on making the sale. But hopeium is a trap, because it impossible for you to keep in mind your most important goal: to learn your prospect's truth.

When we fix our minds on the outcome - making the sale - we automatically begin anticipating how the process will go, and we also begin expecting that things will happen as we hope they will.  But if we're in that mindset and our prospect suddenly breaks off communication, we feel lost, anxious, frustrated, discouraged, and confused. We become preoccupied with what went wrong. We may even feel betrayed.

Is there any way to clear up the mystery?  Yes, by giving up your agenda and learning the truth about where you stand with your prospect - and being ok with whatever the truth may be. "But how can I learn the truth when they're avoiding me?" you may ask. "And why do I need to let go of the sale?"

Let's take the second question first.  If you approach your prospect while you still hope the sale will happen, you'll introduce sales pressure into the relationship. This will push your prospect away from you and destroy any trust you have developed with them. Instead, you can eliminate all sales pressure by telling them that you're okay with their decision if they've decided not to move forward.  In other words, you take a step back instead of trying to chase and follow up with calls because you're focused on getting a "yes."

The bottom line is:  When a prospect gives you the "silent treatment," it doesn't mean you've lost the sale. It just means you don't know the truth yet. What you need to do is call and learn the truth.

Here's some language I suggest that will make prospects feel safe enough to open up and tell you the truth about their situation:  "Hi, Jim, I am calling to apologize that we ended up not being able to connect. I feel like somewhere along the way maybe I dropped the ball, or I didn't give you the information you needed. I'm not calling to move things forward because I'm assuming you've probably gone ahead with someone else, and that's perfectly okay. I'm just checking to see if you may have some feedback as to where I can improve for next time."

When you respond to the "silent treatment" this way, the results will probably surprise you. You may even learn that the prospect has legitimate reasons for not having gotten back to you. You'll also find yourself more productive and less frustrated. It'll make a world of difference in your productivity level, your stress level, your income, and how much you enjoy what you're doing.

Remember,  you haven't lost the sale. You just don't know the truth yet.

This article Used By Permission Ari Galper is the founder of Unlock The GameTM, http://ww.UnlockTheGame.com


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Shonda Blakely
Solid Source Realty - Snellville, GA
thanks for this post.  This is a good stategy to f/u on when you get that silent txmt.  Thanks again.
Feb 29, 2008 05:42 AM #1
Chris Tesch
RE/MAX Bryan-College Station - College Station, TX
College Station, Texas Real Estate
Ruben, to me it isn't about loosing the sale.  I do plenty of sales and sometimes personalities won't jive.  If there is a communication block I try to figure it out and if not refer them to a different agent to be better served.
Feb 29, 2008 05:43 AM #2
Dave Woodson
Dave Woodson - Chesterton, IN
Not the Average Agent
a sale is never complete untill there is a transfer of trust from you to them.  they need to reliinguish the trust to you that you know what you are doing and tha tyou can deliver what you promise
Feb 29, 2008 05:50 AM #3
Cedric (Ced) Reynolds
Covina, CA
(909) 263-4569
Ruben, good post. I do my best to connect with prospects even when they give me the silent treatment.  I leave the charge to them to make the final call.  I "do not beg" for a sell. If they are silent after a certain number of times I've tried to connect, they move done my list of qualified prospects and those prospects who value my time get my time.  There's no hard feelings and we may eventually do business if and when they get ready but I will not give them any indication that I'm desperate for their business.
Feb 29, 2008 05:56 AM #4
Steve Hoffacker
Steve Hoffacker LLC - West Palm Beach, FL
Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor
Good observations. I think that it's our nature to keep pressing when they turn silent and think we can win them over - without understanding what's going on.
Feb 29, 2008 06:02 AM #5
Ruben Colon
McCormick Partners Realty - Chicago, IL


Shonda, Thanks for the comment. 2 way communication is a key to better understanding.

Chris, You are correct, it is not about losing the sale. I agree communication is key. When I can't effectively communicate I also try to refer them to one of my agents that maight be more effective. Thanks for your comment.

Dave, I agree a sale can't happen unless there is mutual trust. Thanks for the comment.

Cedric, The customer definitely has the final call, As you stated. Sometimes you do everything possible to connect with them, but they just don't want to connect with you. You are right "Begging" is not good and not professional. Thanks for commenting.

Steve, The main thing is that we have to try and make friends with our customers and then we try to build trust. If we are unable to do that then they surely will be Silent.    Thanks to everyone for your comments and Happy selling!

Feb 29, 2008 07:45 AM #6
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