Why It’s a Gift When Someone Tells You “No”

LasStop-womant month I wrote a blog post called “Are You Paying Close Enough Attention to Your Direct Sales Customers?”. I talked about learning details about your clients and hosts and then using that personal touch to follow up with them. I always share my blog post to the groups I’m a member of on LinkedIn and there was a lively conversation about this post. I wanted to share one particular exchange with you because I thought it was very interesting and that it might support you.

Elizabeth Mindermann asked me the following question: “I try hard to follow up with personal contact via phone or when I see a customer in person on how they liked the product. I also ask if they have any questions because I do not want my customers collecting products 🙂 I want to show them how to use the products. I do have a question for you though – what do you do about customers or potential customers who just don’t want the contact or relationship. I have had a few people who have said to me point blank “I don’t want follow up. I’m just buying once for this, that, or the other thing.’ How do you handle that in a world that seems like people want less personal contact and more on-line shopping?”

This was my answer: “Honestly, Elizabeth, if someone told me point blank not to follow up with them, I would consider that a gift. You’re not wasting your time following up with someone who isn’t wanting to hear from you and they’re being honest and clear about what they want (or don’t want ) from you. The problem comes when we assume that’s what people mean even if they don’t say it. There’s a big difference.”

Then she posted this follow up question: “I do have some people who have told me point blank but then there are those who ‘say’ it more with body language, distancing themselves, etc. I have never wanted to do direct sales because I am VERY turned off by pushy people and never wanted to be seen as a pushy person. With that in mind I feel like I take extra care to find out what a customer wants and needs and help them with that but not push them to achieve my goals, if that makes sense. What do you do personally with people who back away from you when you try to offer good customer care?”

And here’s my answer (it includes a good script that you’re welcome to use): “I’m a very straight forward person, Elizabeth, and if I sensed that I was turning someone off or they were backing away, I would probably tell them point blank that customer service for my clients was a big priority for me and that I find most of my clients really appreciate it when I follow up. I would tell them that I never follow up with the intention to leverage then to do anything but in the interest of making sure they’re getting all the information and follow up care they need from me. If their body language didn’t change at that point, I’d probably ask if they would prefer that I not put them on my follow up list. Their answer gives you a clear direction as far as where to go from there. For me, that’s just easier than trying to figure out what they’re thinking or not thinking.

(And just FYI, about 90% of the time when I think I know what someone else is thinking, I’m wrong and they say, ‘absolutely, follow up, please!’)”

The bottom line is, you can only feel “pushy” if you’re being inauthentic and trying to “force” something onto someone. I have just found that honestly and authenticity are the best policy, for you and the people with whom you interact.

What do you think?