19 Nov

How do you Deal with Unwanted Folks?

How do you deal with people trying to sell you something you’re not interested in? We all buy from salespeople but most of us don’t buy what we don’t want, right? However, I find myself racked first with guilt and then pity when I turn them down, ever since my experience with the Kirby Salesman– and of course due to my people-pleasing issues.

This week so far I have had three episodes and guilt would not let me tell them I wasn’t interested.

The first incident happened on Tuesday evening, she was a smallish lady from Fresh Foods. As soon as I  set eyes on her, a story wrote itself about her life, from her leaving the rice fields of India to trawling through the UK’s immigration system, being betrayed by her fiance and now living with her uncle, as a blemished non-bride. The plot carried on right through her many jobs from McDonalds on Oxford Street to how she came to be standing at my doorstep in Bromley. I understand that there are often different levels of commissions for sales people. Getting an appointment for example might be 1 tier, gaining a one-off sale takes you to tier 2 and obtaining a 12 month subscription catapults you to level 3 as a books or in this case Fresh Food sales guru.

I usually let them speak to me because although I know I would not be fast-tracking them to level one, I can at least be the bearer of warm feelings of acceptance by not shutting the door on them. So I listened to Bharti, I was weary from a long day at work and I was cooking dinner. My ears were tired from #4’s incessant chatting- a new skill he picked up is to paint himself as a martyr while he relates every episode of  play and fight that occurred that day at school.  
The woman activated her script mode.

“Do you like food?”

(Why don’t you just ask if I eat, to which I will answer ‘yes I do’?)
“Yes, I do.”

“Good!!! have you heard of Fresh foods?”

“Yes.. I think so”

“So fresh foods is….”

I honestly didn’t hear a word she said as I was straining my ears to pick up crackling sounds from my pot of rice, I didn’t want it to get burned.

I deduced from a few words I picked up that the company possibly sold cooked foods.

“I cook my own food, I don’t buy cooked food”, I protested.

“Well, blah, blah, blah…”

I zoned out again this time to check on the stew and returned almost immediately.

“I only cook Nigerian food. ” I dared her to offer a comeback. Would she now tell me Fresh Foods offer pounded yam and okra as well?

“Our founder travels all over the world and brings different cuisines, you and your lovely children ( yeah right!) would be able to sample some of the best dishes in the world.”

I know the word ‘sample’ came from the script. It’s a simple enough word, but it typically doesn’t make its way into ethnic-food related sentences.

I realised at this point that not only was I punishing myself, I was also falsely misleading her which will do her more harm than good. So much for my saving humanity.

I told her I was sorry, it was a bad time for me and I wouldn’t be buying.


(Here I am trying to help and you’re throwing it in my face!)

“I can’t afford it.”

“Thanks and have a lovely evening.”


Today it was an American salesman calling the London number on a business-related issue, also known as advertising in a magazine. Before he even called I knew the answer would be ‘no’. In fact before I was born I knew the answer would be ‘no’. The trouble was I felt really sorry for him. He was breathing heavily, and I pictured him an overweight, southern man just trying to make ends meet. He is wearing a khaki coloured suit and the tie is skewed to the left because of his protruding stomach. He smokes 10 a day and finds walking, no matter the distance to be laborious. His home is furnished in ’80s furniture, his wife is fed up of his ‘ways’- whatever they are. His boss is on his case constantly threatening him…I’ll stop now.

Anyway I felt very sorry for him.  So I let him carry on. While he was speaking I thought of a nice and easy but final way to get rid of him. I decided to tell him the truth, but not all of it. That I was making some major changes to the business which will last well into 2015. We dialogued about it back and forth, and finally ended the conversation. I don’t tell him I will not buy advertising from them, nothing personal but advertising costs money.

However, I wish I could go back in time to Monday morning, I was at the bank when someone called and left a message for me.

“Please call Dave at (posh sounding double-barrelled name estate agency), we have a project for you”.

Instantly I picture this stunning house, a mansion, where the owners are just desperate for some design work to be carried out by moi.

I put on my business mindset and call him back, carefully choosing the right voice for this auspicious conversation about to take place.

“Hi Toks, yes I have a project you’ll be interested in, you left your information at our office”

“Yes, I did, how are you Dave?”

“Good thanks. We are in the process of producing a brochure, and we would like you to come on board.”

Oh, not that type of project, exciting still. I think about my beautiful, high quality, well-designed brochure which I previously left in their office. They must want me to design one for them. I decide I will not in my excitement discuss price until I have all the facts. There are many ways to make money and folks, I just became a graphic designer!

“It will be seen in every home in the area.”

Hold on a minute, this guy is selling to me. I thought he had a job for me and I just wasted my greeting, mindset and voice on him!

“Err..” was all I could muster as I searched for my original voice and normal state of mind.

“When next are you in the area?”

I’m trying to remain professional.

“I’ll be near you later on today actually.”

“Great! We usually take a deposit before hand, the balance is not due until early next year, bring your credit card. I presume you are the decision maker right?”

It was in a state of shock, mouth agape that I staggered out of the bank. I, of course did not attend his meeting, and when he called the next morning, I explained I typically do not make business decisions like advertising while standing on the line in the bank. He responded by saying it was a shame he couldn’t help me. Imagine?

But now I feel I should have hammered him. How dare he presume he successfully sold me something I don’t want? He didn’t even have the courtesy to tell me how much they were charging.

How do you deal with unwanted sales people?

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