When Prospects Are Noncommittal


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If you’ve been selling for a while, you’ve probably had at least one experience in which your prospects unexpectedly begin to be very non committal or in other words give you the “silent treatment.”

Where prospects are quite for a while after we’ve had great conversations and they’ve expressed interest in our solution — and then all of a sudden everything stops.

You try calling them back once or twice. I even send a follow-up email, but nothing. They just disappear. And you imagine that you’ve lost the sale.  You don’t know what you did wrong, or what to do next.

It makes selling feel like such a painful and grueling process.

If this has happened to you, you may have felt apprehensive and mystified. You may have told yourself, “It’s not as if I’m the one who did anything wrong. How can I rescue the sale if I can’t even get them to talk to me?”


The “Expectation” Trap

There is a pressure-free way to re-establish 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 “expectation,” a funny term that means we focus all our hopes and desires on making the sale.

However, the expectation can be an ambush, because it’s impossible for you to keep in mind your most essential goal: to learn your prospect’s truth.

When we fix our minds on the outcome — making the sale — we customarily begin anticipating how the process will go, and we start anticipating that things will happen as we hope they will.

But if we’re in that frame of mind and our prospect unexpectedly breaks off communication, we feel lost, anxious, frustrated, discouraged, and bewildered. We become preoccupied with what went wrong.

We may even feel deceived.

Is there any way to clear up the doubt?

Of course there is; by giving up your own agenda and learning the reality about where you stand with your prospects –and being satisfied 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?

If you approach your prospect(s) while you still hope the sale will happen, you’ll introduce sale demands into the relationship. This will drive your prospect away from you and devastate any trust you have developed with them.

Instead, you can reduce sales pressure by telling them that you’re all right 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 the big “yes.”


Here’s the bottom line:

When prospects are non committal or give you the “silent treatment,” it doesn’t mean you’ve lost the sale. It just means you don’t know the truth so far.

What you need to do is to call and discover the truth.

Why is learning the truth so important?

Here are 4 fundamental reasons

  • You stop losing confidence in your selling ability. The “silent treatment” threatens our “expectation.” We begin blaming ourselves. We suddenly don’t know where we stand – this is an excruciating position to be in. Our self-talk is pessimistic, and we start to speculate whether the sale is completely lost or where the next one is coming from
  • You must boost your selling efficiency and reduce your nervous tension. Once you find out the truth about your prospect’s situation, you can either stay involved with the prospect or move on. Sometimes a ‘no’ is almost as valuable as a ‘yes. ‘Why? For the simple reason that it frees up your time to find better prospects who want your service or product. This lets you work more professionally because you can quickly weed out prospects that aren’t going to buy. The “tire kickers” as we say. Knowing the prospect’s truth lets you walk away without remorse. And if you give up, then perhaps you don’t have what it takes.

Learning your prospect’s truth converts into tangible results that equal real dollars. More importantly you will put an end to the self-sabotaging stress that comes from living in “silent treatment” limbo.

  • Remember sales pressure pushes prospects away. When you respond to the “silent treatment” with calls and emails, 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 suspicious of you and they will run the other way.
  • The “silent treatment” — totally breaking off communication — is how prospects protect themselves from sales pressure when they don’t feel easy telling you their truth; and the more we press, the more they run.


But the opposite is correct, too. The more we relax and invite the truth, the more straightforward they’ll be with us.

When your prospects are beginning to feel okay about sharing what’s going on with them when they know we’re okay with hearing it. The relationships will be based on mutual respect and understanding.

That’s the place where you want to be.


So How Do we Reopen Communication

It’s simpler than you might think.

* First, simply give your prospect a call if you can.

* Second, take responsibility and apologize for having caused the “silent treatment” in the first place.

Make your prospect’s feel they’re in safe hands to open up and tell you the truth about their situation:

When you respond to the “silent treatment” this way, the end results will probably surprise you. You may even discover that the prospect has genuine reasons for not having gotten back to you.

You’ll also find yourself more productive and less discouraged. It’ll make a world of difference in your efficiency level, your anxiety level, your income, and how much you take pleasure in what you’re doing.


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

So may l say “Can you handle the truth?” It will make you a better salesperson. 

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