Avoiding The Awkward Silence

SOLD A PROPERTY? What happens next? Carl Quested looks at how you can continue to build on the relationship instead of waiting for years until the client is ready to sell.

If you remember your dating days, you’ll recall that moment on a first date. You’ve covered the basics, ordered a drink or meal, and then it happens – the awkward silence.

What do you say next? The wrong thing could mean the end before it’s even started.

There are a lot of comparisons between real estate and dating (rightly so; they are both relationship businesses), and the one that needs to be addressed is the awkward silence. It’s that period shortly after you have turned a buyer into a new property owner. What the heck do you talk to them about now?

Clearly you can’t start promoting properties to them – they’ve only just purchased. And the stats show the average sales cycle is seven years; that could be a really long and awkward silence.

As real estate agents, there isn’t a suite of different products and services that you can continue to promote, upsell and cross-sell. Take a stationery shop, for example. You buy a pen, but they can promote paper, office supplies, furniture, printing, even office fit-outs and on and on. Their ability to be ‘sticky’ with their clients is significant.

But don’t despair – the exact same opportunity is available to agents too. It’s a matter of perspective.

We all need to focus on revenue; it’s what pays the bills. But there are actually three different types of revenue available: cash, trust and referral. Sure, the first one comes right now, the result of selling the house. But the latter two don’t require any real estate transaction to occur. Take tenants, for example. Your interactions with them may be minimal, but they still have friends, work colleagues and so on, exactly the same as a homeowner. Their ability to refer business to you is no different; they don’t even need to have used your service.

This means that you can start associating revenue with those people you had perhaps closed off as an opportunity.

But what does this have to do with an awkward silence? You have seven years’ worth of silence to fill, which is a good amount of time to build trust and referral. And the two can actually help propel each other forward too.

When someone moves into a new home, most agents think it is end of the transaction and speak again in seven years. They won’t become an agent of choice if they don’t stay top of mind. The opportunity here is to start asserting yourself as the ‘sticky’ agent.

If you position yourself as the go-to person for everything in relation to property and community, you get to be sticky. Think about the opportunities that exist: builders, decorators, carpenters, pest inspectors, gardeners. All of these businesses will be needed by homeowners at some point. If you can be the one to present them with relevant information and offers, not only will you become a useful resource to the homeowner, but you will build an amazing level of trust with the business too.

Who are these businesses more likely to refer to in future – the agent who actually promotes them, or the one who has their business card on a counter with 50 others? Get them to provide special offers just for your clients, give them the ability to track the relationships and put special offers or coupons on your letters and emails. It’s going to the next level of value-adding.

Then there is the wider community, where you have the opportunity to keep owners up to date with local matters like council issues, road closures and new businesses opening. Providing this information on a regular basis is useful; it shows that you care and understand the needs of where your clients are right now, not just when they are ready to sell.

Finally, what about your interests outside real estate? People buy from people, so if you go around with your real estate hat on all the time others don’t get to see the real you. If you have hobbies, passions, philanthropic initiatives, make sure you share them. You will be amazed at how much easier your conversations become when you start talking like a human being instead of a stat-fuelled agent. Let a little bit of yourself come through and watch how your listing presentations change.

These are just some examples of how you can avoid the awkward silence with your clients and ensure that you remain relevant and useful – ‘sticky’. From here you create a better chance of being the agent of choice when they are next ready to sell.


  1. Understand the seven year sales cycle
  2. Remember the three revenue types – cash, trust and referral
  3. Build relationships and promote those businesses that add value to your clients
  4. Be active in the community – share information about what is going on that will interest them
  5. Don’t ignore tenants – they can be awesome referrers for your service
  6. Learn what your clients are looking for and be sticky

People buy from people – don’t be an agent all the time.

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Carl Quested

Carl Quested is the director of AgentMail, a boutique mail house that specialises in real estate mail and a licened real estate agent with Explore Property Morayfield