Nope, we’re not available. Ever. Sorry.|
We didn’t want it to come to this, but there are more of them than there are of us. “Them” are salespeople. While we don’t begrudge them trying to make a living, and we never thought we’d become the kind of people who won’t accept or even return calls, we have other things to do, like run our gyms.
Rob went so far this week as to literally unplug himself. He’s taken the phone extension out of his office. Our rule is simple — if you don’t know our mobile phone numbers, we don’t want to talk to you.
It’s a shame, but it’s just gotten ridiculous. Credit-card processors. Electricity-generating utilities. Cash-advance providers. Equipment-leasing companies. IT firms. And those are just the behind-the-scenes businesses that most people have never heard of.
With the explosion of advertising outlets, it seems like we’re being chased constantly. Local radio. Internet radio. Newspapers. TV stations. Specialty publications — and their requisite Web sites — for kids’ sports, yoga enthusiasts, local shopping, general health, medicine, tourism, local sports teams. Then there are coupon books for local nonprofits, newsletters for community groups and churches, the place mats for local restaurants, and the advertising that goes onto shopping carts at the supermarkets.
We’ve also been driven to this by the tactics used by some salespeople to get to us. Since we don’t have assistants (how nice would that be?) our front desk staff, many of whom are young and inexperienced, can be easily bamboozled. “Is Rob or Barry there? It’s Bill!” has all too often resulted in an unwanted call making its way into the office.
What makes it worse than just the phone calls is that when we’ve tried to be courteous and speak with some of these folks, they all want to meet. Really? You want to take more of our time? Please, we’ve begged, just send details in an e-mail and we’ll consider your product. If that’s not good enough, then…well…just forget it. There’s really no need to meet.
What most of these folks seem to have forgotten is that they have contacted us, so when we give them a polite “no thanks,” we’d like them to accept it. Do we really have to be rude and explain that we have other things to do and, trust us — if we are intrigued by your product, we will get back with you?
Some people do take us up on our offer to look at e-mailed details, but forcing us to say “no” in three e-mails in order to allow them to reach their Sales 101 quota of how many times they must be told “no” just gets tedious. And if we don’t respond? No, it’s not that your e-mail got lost in our spam. We just didn’t respond.
It’s been hard for us to view ourselves as the business owners who don’t take calls, return messages or respond to e-mails from people we just don’t have time to deal with. But it has come down to simple math when it’s only the two of us against all of them. Might we be considered rude by acting this way? Sure. But we were being forced to be rude so often, we figure we’re saving everyone a lot of time and trouble.
Now, they can’t even bamboozle the staff. We’re never available. And even if we were, there’s no phone to ring.