I Am Not Your Prospect

Tonight, I did something I rarely do. I stepped foot in an office supply store. My daughter wanted a fancy planner, and I needed some new highlighters for books I am reading and documents I need to review. Naturally, I only like one pen, some sort of Uni-Ball gel pen, so I picked up a pack of those and a pack of assorted colors (even though I have no idea when I will ever use them.)

My daughter couldn’t find an acceptable planner, but she did find Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (which upon reflection, might have been more important to her).

As we were checking out, the nice gentleman behind the counter asked me if I had a rewards card. I said that I did not and, naturally, he pitched me. Did I know that I could save on every transaction? Did I know that I could collect points that can be redeemed for merchandise in the store?

I explained that I visit an office supply store on the same frequency of occurrence as Haley’s Comet passing Earth.

Undeterred, the cashier, acting as salesman, adjusted his approach. Was I aware that their program was free? Had anyone informed me that there was no card necessary; I could simply register with my phone number? Politely, I told him that I understood, but I wouldn’t find any value in the program. As what he tried thus far hadn’t worked, he went to time as my likely objection. Did I know it only takes a minute to sign up?

This is a mistake that salespeople make, but in this case, the cashier was trained to pursue an enrollment, and he did his best. But as my daughter was with me, I continued to say no to teach her an important lesson. No matter how persistent someone is, you do not have to agree to what they ask you to do. No matter how polite they seem, you have no obligation to agree to what they ask of you to be polite. If someone refuses to take no for an answer, they are not being polite, and you can stick to your no with no apologies.

And here is a lesson for at least 14 salespeople who have communicated with me through email and LinkedIn over the past two weeks. Not everyone is your prospect. A pulse and blinking eyes are not enough to make someone a prospect. What makes someone a prospect is the fact that you can create value for them—and that they will perceive what you sell as value, even if they say no.

There is no reason to assume that a LinkedIn profile is an indication that one needs a mobile application, a responsive website, better SEO, Oracle Java developers, or lead generation services (all of which I have been offered in the last two weeks). If you sell consulting services, pitching me and sending me a link whereby I can schedule time on your Calendly or TimeTrade link is to misunderstand prospecting altogether.

I may not be your prospect. You may not be mine either.

Filed under: Sales Acumen

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