I thought that topic might get your attention… So, naturally most businesses get tired of fielding calls and emails from salespeople. Don’t hate them, they’re doing their job. You (or your employees) are probably selling stuff and so are they. It is very possible that the stuff they’re selling is worthless, or you already have it, or you just don’t need it.
It is also possible that they may possess something you thought you didn’t need but could really help your business. Blowing off salespeople is a double edged sword in that regard. I had once walked in on a business with a pure solicitation. The owner, who was very successful, was open minded and took the time to speak with me. In the end he wasn’t going for what I had to offer, but he was cordial and told me that he’d once blown off a salesman who had a product that his competitor took on in an exclusive deal and it cost him over a million dollars. He said from that day forward he wouldn’t blow off salespeople.
He also was cool enough to refer me to someone who turned out to be a source of business for me. I am not going to deny the fact that there are many people in sales who do not know when to back off, are peddling crap or who call way too much. That’s going to happen. If someone establishes that they do not know how to handle themselves, just tell them you are not interested. The WORST thing you can do is to not give a clear message to them. It will result in their continuing to call, annoying you and wasting their own time.
As a person who has been involved in sales for many years, there is one mistake that I see a lot of business owners make which I think is just asking for trouble and creates a lot of frustration for both them and the person hoping to do business with them (in this case me). If you express to a person who is making an overture to speak with you that you are open or interested to speak, you have opened that door and it is not inappropriate for the salesperson to assume that you meant what you said. They will follow-up and seek to set a meeting or make their pitch. If you are avoiding them, you are again inviting an uncomfortable situation.
Likewise, if you have gone so far as to take a meeting with a salesperson and have let them know that you remain interested in their offering, expect them to follow-up. Of course things happen, situations change and purchases will be made in the timing that the customer chooses--but if you have set a certain expectation and are not following through, a salesperson is going to continue to reach out until they are told that the timing has changed or the opportunity no longer exists.
The best advice that can be offered is to be honest with salespeople. If the situation has changed, if your GM has quit and you are having to do two jobs and don’t have time, if you are not in a financial position to move forward right now, if you have other priorities and need a month--just pick up the phone or respond to the email and let them know. It is much easier and less uncomfortable to do that than to avoid calls and emails. Deliver the message clearly and succinctly and either let them know that you are no longer interested and why, or how much time you will need before they follow-up. If they can’t handle that, it is not your problem.
Most of all, they’re people and they expect to be dealt with honestly and with respect, just as you would want the same. As someone who has dealt with being blown off far more than I would like, I can tell from experience that it makes the follow-up process and the eventual call that gets through much less comfortable for both sides. I go out of my way to let the prospect know that I am not intending to pressure them, only to get some clarity as to whether or not their interest remains and how I’m supposed to follow-up with them moving forward, if at all.
So, if you want to get rid of those sales calls you don’t want, my advice would be the following:
Take a brief initial call and see what it is they do or have to offer. You don’t want to turn away something of value without knowing what you’re saying no to. If you have to, tell them they have 30 seconds to share what they have to offer and give them the opportunity to sink or swim.
If it isn’t an area of need, let them know whether to take you off their list or call back again in the future. A good salesperson is happy to get a flat no because it means no more wasted time continuing to call back.
Do what you said you were going to do or let them know otherwise. If you’re not ready to move forward or the situation has changed, just communicate that quickly, simply and clearly and if they have any social graces they’ll listen and accept it. If they’ve done something that rubbed you the wrong way, tell them. Perhaps they’ll learn and grow from it or maybe it will be revealed that there was merely a misunderstanding.
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