Being honest in life is surprisingly hard work. Being honest in the business realm is even harder work. It’s not that you want to be forced into telling a few white lies or half-untruths, it’s just that other people tend to push you into an uncomfortable corner.
Unless you live in a state of glorious isolation or are lucky enough to have retired (even then you won’t escape all of the hassle), you will undoubtedly be dealing with the same problem as everyone else, in terms of the daily deluge of sales and client calls as well as the on-going blizzard of emails.
It is very tempting to take the temporary brush off approach with both calls and emails. What do I mean? Well, you know how it goes…
“Thanks for the call but I can’t do anything at the moment but you can call me back in a few weeks time…”
It’s a well-trodden route because it doesn’t involve you having to metaphorically close the door permanently on someone! Very uncomfortable for the English-psyche. Unfortunately, all this does is put that time-wasting call to the back of the queue. It’s still there, waiting for you in a few weeks time.
Likewise, with the email approach, where on paper it should be easier to put an end to the approach, it can be just as difficult, particularly if you are likely to bump into the person at the next networking event or they are a friend of a friend. The pure numbers of emails received on a daily basis can be just overpowering and also often daunting in terms of the aggressive opening language used. What do I mean by that? Examples of this include
“I have reserved you a space at Flim-flam Expo in November, please confirm your attendance”
“My colleague is in your area on the 25th September and we have booked in a time to come into your office for a meeting”
or the follow follow-up…
“Mr Jones, we contacted you a week back but are still waiting for you to reply”.
Pushy, pushy, pushy… and also fairly annoying.
How do you deal with this attack on your time and patience? Nobody really wants to offend anyone (well, not most of the time anyway!) but it’s time to get some control back. Here are some suggestions as to how you can achieve this:
1. If you receive a call you are not interested in, use the following reply as a standard response. This looks like you are doing them a favour and empathise with them (vary as needed):
“Thank you for the call. I have looked at this option in great detail before and it does not work for us. To save your valuable time, as I know how difficult it is to make sales calls, I would suggest you try another potential client as we can’t help you at the moment.”
You can switch this around to involve a lack of budget as needed. That is also effective but you have to hold your ground.
2. If you receive a call from someone who wants to put a meeting in with you right away, this response has proven to be effective:
“I get, between, 30 to 40 sales approaches every week. As you can imagine, it’s completely unrealistic for me to put meetings in for every approach. If you wish to, you can send me some details of the product/service and I will have a look at it when I get a chance and will contact you if we are interested. Please don’t follow up after sending the email though. Thanks.”
3. If you get a call from someone you know and really do not want to offend I think you just have to front up and say something along the lines of
“It’s a good product/service (if it isn’t, tell them but be constructive!) but I really can’t use it at the moment. I do mention it to other contacts and colleagues though when I think they may have a use for it. I’ll see you at the next event and perhaps we can see where there are other areas, such as marketing or a joint event, we can work together on.”
Most of the time this is 100% true as no one wants to offend someone who may be a referrer or provide a marketing conduit for what you are doing.
4. With all emails the initial practice you want to adapt is putting aside an hour every couple of days to ‘unsubscribe’ from the emails that you are not interested in. After a couple of weeks, you will find that your inbox is considerably less cluttered. You will then be able to deal with any new emails you want to ‘unsubscribe’ from as they appear one by one.
5. If you receive emails without any ‘unsubscribe’ option, reply as follows: ‘Your email has no unsubscribe option. This is what is expected of you if you are using direct email marketing approaches: https://www.gov.uk/marketing-advertising-law/direct-marketing . If you believe I have subscribed to receive your emails please provide evidence of this or remove me from your mailing list immediately’.
6. If you want a swift but polite reply to any spam, just answer:
“I am not interested. Please remove me from all future contact. Thank you.”
Simple but usually effective.
7. If the sender is based overseas and ignore all your responses, investigate email address blocking software from your email provider and block them with absolutely no hesitation at all.
These are just a few suggestions which I have found to be helpful over the past few years. No doubt, you may have developed your own tactics. Whatever you do, just remember it’s your time and do not be intimidated by any ‘heavy approaches’. If they really annoy you, just terminate the relationship. They may then get the point!
Need some advice on anything addressed in this article or on any other area of law?
Chris Hunter, Business Development Manager – rhw Solicitors LLP July 2017