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No Apologies (If You Are a Value Creator)

Selling requires confidence. It requires a presence. The way you carry yourself conveys that confidence and gives you that presence. So do the words that you use. That is why you have to stop saying you’re sorry. It’s why you have to stop apologizing for taking your dream client’s time.

If what you have to say is important, say it confidently and with no apologies.

I’m Sorry to Bother You

This is a purely tactical blog post. But this stuff, even if it seems minor, matters a great deal.

If you begin your conversation with the words: “I am sorry to bother you,” then you are conveying a couple of messages. By apologizing before you have even said a word, you are suggesting that what you are about to say isn’t really important. That’s leading with the idea that what you have to say isn’t going to be valuable to the person you are speaking with.

If what you have to say isn’t important, then don’t say it. If it is, then don’t apologize.

Apologizing before you say a word is too deferential. It isn’t polite. It isn’t respectful. It smacks of subservience. It looks like a lack of confidence and a lack of presence. And it isn’t the posture of someone who is a real value creator, and it isn’t the right approach for a salesperson.

Instead, try this: “I have something I need to share with you. I need your ten minutes of your time. Can we cover this now, or can we put something on the calendar for later?”

I Am Only Going to Take a Minute of Your Time

There is no more precious a commodity than time. Once it is spent on something, it can’t be invested somewhere else. No thoughtful person wants to spend their time with someone who intends to waste it. But they will invest that time with people who deserve it.

When you begin with “I am only going to take a few minutes of your time,” you are also suggesting that what you have to say isn’t important. You are suggesting that the other person’s time is more valuable than yours and that they could be doing something better than spending their time with you.

It’s one thing to ask for a low level commitment, like 20 minutes for a sales meeting to qualify an opportunity. It’s another thing to begin your conversation with a statement that destroys confidence in your value creation.

Instead, try this: “I have two important things I want to cover today, and it’s going to take us fifteen minutes. I am going dive in here, and if we need more time, we’ll schedule another conversation. Does that work for you?” If it’s going to take a few minutes, then stop apologizing and get to it.

If you are a value creator, don’t apologize. If the information you have is important to the other person, don’t say you’re sorry. Unless you are wasting the other person’s time, you have nothing to apologize for. If you are a time-waster, then by all means apologize; you probably owe someone as much.


How important are the language choices you make?

How do your language choices effect your dream client’s perception of your confidence and your presence?

What does it mean when you begin a conversation with an apology before any offense has been given?

Is it polite to be deferential? Does it build confidence that you will won the utcomes you are responsible for?

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  • Nicholas @ FastBlink

    Great advice! I never really thought about the negative effects of those lines, having said them myself many times. It definitely shows that we need to carefully consider every word.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Words have meanings. Choose carefully.

  • Brian Ahearn

    Excellent observations Anthony. It reminds me of the typical answer to, “How are you?” Most people say, “Not too bad.” as if bad is the standard and if they can get just a little bit away from it that’s good enough for them. What we say reveals what we think and it matters. Keep up the great work.


    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I answer that question with “I am perfect,” which never fails to draw a smile (people expect, not too bad). Or, for some reason I am not perfect, I answer: “I am wonderful.” If I get to define how I am, and I do, then why not be perfect or wonderful?

      Last week at Chipotle, the girl behind the counter said: Hey, you’re the guy that’s fabulous.” I’ll take fabulous.

  • Mike Rudd

    Great post Anthony!  One that always works for me because I think I am trying to create value and a lot of folks in my industry don’t have the reputation for it is I say “Look I am not going to waste any of your time, why I want to do that.”
    That works more times than not…the reason it does it so many times people do waste their time!

  • The Responsive Edge™

    Brilliant, again.

  • Brian Zimmerman

    Great post – I totally agree.  In my experience while people they trust, they also buy from people they perceive as confident.  Another example is opening with “Let me be honest with you…”  This implies that everything you said was a lie. 

    Keep it up buddy!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I love that! What you being before? Dishonest?

  • SalesPortal

    “There is no more precious a commodity than time.”

    Completely agree with that. If you are going to take up someone’s than it better be worth it. You have to make that person believe that 15 minutes spent with you is going to be well worth it for them in the long run.

  • Bojan Djordjevic

    Love this article. A lot of people need to learn how to be direct and straightforward 

    • Shouvik Mukherjee

      Absolutely., Bojan Smart writing, innovate and cool thoughts.