Selling Past No Close (Issue 473)

In which we consider what to do when we run into someone who has no need, no hurry, or no money. From the "you probably had to be there and I will give it a shot anyway" department:

I was sitting at my desk on Friday after work when the telephone rang. Without thinking, I picked up the receiver and answered, “Good evening, Nick Miller, Clarity Advantage.” The cheery, young voice on the other end of the line announced that he was from my cable company and that he was calling to ask whether I would be interested in purchasing a new cable package. Roughly speaking, the conversation went like this:

Him: “… and we are now offering a new package that includes four sports channels, 10 new entertainment channels, 25 additional optional channels, all for only $39.95 a month. Do you think this is something you might be interested in?”

Me: “I don’t own a television.”

Him: “Really? Well, maybe you would be interested in one of our other packages that includes more arts and entertainment channels as well as four additional movie channels and a classic TV channel.”

Me: “ I don’t own a television.”

Him: “Ah, hah! Then, perhaps one of our packages that has more of a home and family feel to it would work best for you.”

Me: “You know, I’m grateful for your call, but you are barking up the wrong tree. I do not own a television.”

Him: “You don’t own a television? Every body in America owns a television.”

Me: “I don’t own a television.”

Him: “Why don’t you own a television?”

Me: “I don’t like what I see on television.”

Him: “How do you get your news? I get a lot of my news online, and I still read a newspaper, but television is the best. CNN? It’s so up to date and you get great visuals to go along with the news. It’s fabulous.”

Me: “I understand and… I don’t own a television.”

Him: Well, you know, they are not that expensive to buy. I mean, you could go out and get one tonight, it’s Thursday, and it would probably only cost you a couple of hundred dollars, and then we can get you set up tomorrow night for the premium sports and news channel, and you could have it for the weekend. How does that sound?”

Barely able to stifle myself, I thanked him for his time, I wished them well, and told him I didn’t think I would be buying a television that night or any night and that I was grateful for his call to ask about my situation. We ended the call.

No need, no hurry, and no money are very challenging obstacles to overcome. Although he made the classic sales rep’s assumption that EVERYBODY must need his product, I admired the kid. I don’t know how long he has been making these calls, and I’m willing to bet that I am the first person who has said to him, “I don’t own a television,” and stuck to it. I admired his tenacity and resourcefulness, suggesting that I go out and buy a television set so that he could sell me his product. I don’t hear that kind of chutzpah the calls I take from vendors or potential vendors.

On the other hand, if a hound is barking up an empty tree, no amount of additional barking will produce a raccoon. When we hit “no need,” we should try alternative strategies, including asking more questions. And, at some point, we just need to move on to other trees, perhaps circulating back to the first after some time has passed.

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