Selling – Are You Pitching Too Hard?

Several months ago a new neighbor moved into my complex. I, being my friendly and effervescent self, stopped by after I saw curtains up and introduced myself. We hit it off and within a few weeks began dropping by each other’s apartments for chit chat.

At about the same time I was having a problem with the windows in my living room and the building’s management team wasn’t very responsive. This came up in conversation one afternoon and my new neighbor asked if I had a lawyer. I laughed it off and said I didn’t think it was going to get that serious, but before I knew it I had a lapful of brochures and a hard sales pitch for prepaid legal services aimed right between my eyes. I remained amiable, told her I wasn’t interested at the time but took the brochures anyway.

After that, anytime I saw her she’d ask if my windows had been repaired and when I admitted they hadn’t, we were right back at the sales pitch. It got boring very quickly and I actually began to avoid her whenever I could. I wanted to tell her what my mother had told me growing up about dating, “No means no!” The firmer she pitched, the more firmly I resisted. It got to the point where I’d see her and instead of a cordial hello, I’d say, “I’m not buying anything.” She’d laugh and shake her head as if I was missing out on the biggest deal of the century, treating me as if I was stupid and not merely disinterested. While I wouldn’t have been interested in any case, what concerned me most about the service she was trying to sell me was that it sounded like a multi-level marketing scheme, where the real money was in getting others to become affiliates and then sell the service to even more people.

One evening as I was arriving home from work, she was sitting outside by the garden and crying. I went over to ask what was wrong and she explained that she hadn’t recruited enough new people and that she was about to be cut off from the program – the same great service she’d been trying to sell to me. I invited her in for a glass of wine and we talked for awhile and she pleaded with me to help her out now, explaining how simple it would be for me to pull in a few of my friends while helping her out in the process. Honestly, at that point I expected Ashton Kutcher to jump out of my closet exclaiming, “You’ve just been punk’d!” I didn’t want to buy in when she seemed confident; I most certainly wasn’t going to buy in now when she was crumpled up on my couch begging me to be her lifeline. Shortly after that she moved and I have never heard from her again. To this day, I don’t know if the tears were real or if she was just trying to tug at me emotionally when her other sales tactics didn’t work.

Which brings me to the questions for discussion – in your line of business, how hard do you sell and what’s your indicator to back down? How many no’s does it take for you to relax your pitch? What cues do you take from your prospects that indicate whether that no is a maybe or a firm no? 

In this particular case, we might have become friends or associates in which case, even though I wasn’t interested in her services, I might have gladly suggested them if I came across someone in need of such services. However, with her initial sales pitch being so rigid and unpleasant (regardless of the tears later) I wouldn’t have been pleased or proud to introduce her to anyone else and have her tick them off as she had done me. The people I introduce others to reflects directly upon me and my credibility so she blew future possibilities by pushing way too hard.

And by the way, the windows were replaced shortly thereafter. A few of my well-worded letters cc’d to the right people always get results!

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