When Prospects Give You The Silent Treatment

When Prospects Give You The Silent Treatment

When Prospects Give You the​ Silent Treatment

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.

Anthony described this dilemma very poignantly when he called me a​ few weeks ago:

Ari, I​ don’t know what to​ do when I​ get hit with the​ ‘silent treatment’ -- you know, when I’ve worked with a​ prospect for​ quite a​ while, and​ we’ve had great conversations, and​ they've expressed interest in​ our solution -- and​ then all of​ a​ sudden everything stops.

I try calling them back once or​ twice .​
I​ even send a​ follow-up e-mail, but nothing .​
They just disappear .​
And I​ figure I’ve lost the​ sale, and​ I​ don’t know what I​ did wrong, or​ what to​ do next .​
It makes selling feel like such a​ painful and​ arduous process.

If this has happened to​ you, you may have felt anxious and​ confused .​
You may have told yourself, It’s not as​ if​ I’m the​ one who did anything wrong .​
I​ put everything into the​ relationship .​
How can I​ rescue the​ sale if​ I​ can’t even get them to​ talk to​ me?

The Hopeium Trap

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 can be a​ trap, because it's 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 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.

Why is​ learning the​ truth so important?

Here are 4 important reasons:

1 .​
You stop losing confidence in​ your selling ability .​
The silent treatment threatens our hopeium .​
We start blaming ourselves .​
We don’t know where we stand -- a​ painful state of​ limbo .​
Our self-talk is​ negative and​ full of​ self-blame, and​ we’re on pins and​ needles wondering whether the​ sale will still come through somehow.

2 .​
You increase your selling efficiency and​ decrease your stress level .​
Once you learn the​ truth about your prospect’s situation, you can either stay involved with the​ prospect or​ move on .​
I​ often say, a​ ‘no’ is​ almost as​ valuable as​ a​ ‘yes.’ Why? Because it​ frees up your time to​ find prospects who are a​ better fit with your solution .​
This lets you work much more efficiently because you can quickly weed out prospects who aren’t going to​ buy .​
Knowing the​ prospect’s truth lets you walk away without that guilt-laden voice whispering, if​ you give up, you don't have what it​ takes.

Learning your prospect’s truth translates into tangible results that equal real dollars .​
You’ll also put an​ end to​ the​ self-sabotaging stress that comes from living in​ silent treatment limbo.

3 .​
Sales pressure pushes prospects away .​
When you respond to​ the​ silent treatment with calls and​ e-mails, you’re really telling them that you’re determined to​ move the​ sales process forward -- which means you’re looking out for​ your needs, not theirs .​
This makes them mistrust you and​ run the​ other way.

4 .​
The silent treatment -- totally breaking off communication -- is​ how prospects protect themselves from sales pressure when they don’t feel comfortable telling us their truth .​
The more we press, the​ more they run.

But the​ opposite is​ true, too .​
The more we relax and​ invite the​ truth, the​ more straightforward they’ll be with us .​
Prospects feel okay sharing what’s going on with them when they know we’re okay with hearing it.

How to​ Reopen Communication

After Anthony and​ I​ had talked about some of​ these issues, he said, This all makes a​ lot of​ sense, Ari, but I’m still not sure what to​ say when I​ make that call.

It’s simpler than you might think.

* First, simply give your prospect a​ call .​
(E-mail and​ voicemail are very impersonal, so use them only as​ last resorts if​ you can't reach your prospect after several phone calls.)

* Second, take responsibility and​ apologize for​ having caused the​ silent treatment.

Here’s some language I​ suggested to​ Anthony that will make prospects feel safe enough to​ open up and​ tell you the​ truth about their situation:

Hi, Jim, it’s Anthony .​
I​ just wanted, first of​ all, to​ call and​ 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.


You haven’t lost the​ sale .​
You just don’t know the​ truth yet.

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