What are some effective ways to end sales pitches?
March 7, 2013 9:36 PM   Subscribe

How can a nice guy like me, who aims to please in most cases, stop wasting time hearing sales pitches? I hate disappointing others, but am sick of feeling like I'm to blame when I sit through someone's sales pitch and decline at the end.

There must be some quality about my outward appearance that makes me a victim of this. I get approached at least once a week by random people wanting to sell me time shares, home security systems, and every other thing that I'd rather seek out on my own initiative.

I'm partly to blame because I often am curious about what they're selling, but my efforts to have them "stop in their tracks" never works. So, inevitably, I stand there for 20 minutes and at the end squirm my way out of it and they act incredibly offended that I didn't take the bait.

Part of me is also frustrated that a single "no" is never enough. Even when I've stated "I'm not interested" right off the bat, it never sticks.

I guess I'm looking for some clever and effective ways to make them bug off...
posted by bosco_costanza to Society & Culture (31 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Walk away. Hang up. Close the door. They are being rude when they don't respond to "no," and you can go ahead and extricate yourself without worrying about their feelings.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:40 PM on March 7, 2013 [8 favorites]

Tell them you'll listen to the rest of their pitch for $20. Insist on your $20 bill.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:43 PM on March 7, 2013

Even when I've stated "I'm not interested" right off the bat, it never sticks.

That's because you're still standing there/on the phone with them. Of course they're going to continue the pitch.

Here's what I do:
On the phone: "Sorry, no thanks." Then I don't wait to hear what they say, I hang up the phone as soon as the words leave my mouth.
On the street: No matter what it is, I say "Sorry" and continue without breaking my stride. Even if "Sorry" doesn't grammatically make sense because they've attempted to create cognitive dissonance with one of those leading questions like "DONT YOU CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT," I say it anyway.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:45 PM on March 7, 2013 [18 favorites]

When I see people trying to solicit me from stalls outside supermarkets etc while I'm walking past, I don't even break my stride. I smile politely as I keep walking, shake my head and say "No thank you." Their aim is to get you to stop (or open your door, or whatever) so just don't engage in the first place. You can be polite, but firm. You don't owe anyone your time or money. You're waiting for them to accept no for an answer, if they did that, they'd never make any money! You then have to use your feet. Them acting offended, that's just part of the game. Who cares.
posted by Jubey at 9:45 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

The key is to say no (as pleasantly as you like) while at the same time taking whatever specific action is required to bring the interaction to a close -- hang up, close the door, keep walking, whatever. This means you have to let your desire not to be trapped (and to not feel bad/frustrated, etc.) override your curiosity, which is the thing that's giving them the opening.
posted by scody at 9:45 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

"I'm sorry but I only accept solicitations by lettermail"
posted by KokuRyu at 9:49 PM on March 7, 2013

If this is in person, practice the city-dweller's version of the thousand-yard stare: do not make eye contact, do not indicate you have seen them; just keep moving. If you do accidentally make eye contact, smile vacantly and say "No, thank you!" and do not stop! Keep walking.

On the phone: "Thanks, but we don't take solicitations by phone," click.

Your words and your actions need to match.
posted by rtha at 9:56 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used to stand in the mall asking people to do market research surveys. I can assure you that these people do not give a shit if you ignore them. You will not hurt their feelings. They will forget you existed the second you pass out of their view. What's frustrating to them is if you listen to their whole pitch and then say no, which is why they're getting annoyed at you. It would be better for both of you if you just said no and walked on without wasting either of your time.
posted by empath at 10:07 PM on March 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

If they're blocking you, say firmly and coldly : "get out of my way".
You have my permission to roar at them if they don't.
posted by brujita at 10:15 PM on March 7, 2013

All of the above work. If you feel like you're being rude when you ignore them, be aware that you're being much, much ruder by pretending to be interested: you make them go all the way through their pitch, which means you've made them waste 20 minutes of their time.

Just say "no, thank you" and WALK AWAY or HANG UP.

If this seems awful and rude, remember that nice polite people don't try to stiffarm others in the street to demand that they give money to Greenpeace.
posted by jrochest at 10:15 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

“Please remove me from your list.”

*Click* or *Hang up*
posted by oceanjesse at 10:22 PM on March 7, 2013

I am having problems with my phone. It may sound like I have hung up, but ignore that and keep talking. Click.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:31 PM on March 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

You can say "time out" (and if in a face-to-face situation, actually make a time-out signal with your hands) and then tell them you just have one question, ask it, let them answer it, and you are done. Alternatively, you can say "If you can't tell me what you do in one or two sentences, then I'm not interested".
posted by Dansaman at 10:31 PM on March 7, 2013

"So sorry, I'm late for a meeting!" Point at your watch, roll your eyes like you have an alien parasite biting your ass, and then walk right by them.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:32 PM on March 7, 2013

My mom's strategy, which I picked up by osmosis, is a cheery "I don't believe I'm interested, thank you!" (A southern accent helps.) Then completely ignore the other person: hang up, walk away, whatever. Your victim will be too dazed to respond. Try it!
posted by orrnyereg at 10:39 PM on March 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

As a former salesperson (who really hated being a salesperson, but knows the drill quite well):

On the street/in the mall/etc: confident, quick stride, shake head, smile, "nope, sorry, good luck!"

At my door: "sorry, not interested, good luck!" (close door normally - don't slam it, but don't hesitate either)

On the phone (these ones probably have a script and are being monitored for compliance in order to receive commission, so you really can't expect them to pause or break script) : "sorry, not interested" *click*

Don't waste their time or yours. It does nobody any favors, and as empath says, actually harms them, because they are spending time on you that they could be spending with someone who potentially actually IS interested.

And for the people saying to be intentionally nasty or rude to salespeople, please do remember that most of them are really low-wage employees who do it because they have to in order to get a paycheck to pay their bills. I've known a few truly slimy salesfolk in my day, but the vast majority are just trying to pay rent and are well aware how much everyone else hates their profession.
posted by celtalitha at 10:53 PM on March 7, 2013 [11 favorites]

Simply put:

- You get to decide how you spend your time.
- If you're going to be polite you can inform other people of your intentions.
- Then you act on your decision.

It's fleshed out a bit more in this comment.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:10 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Stop being interested by sales pitches - NONE of them are anything you want!

Trust me here, at the end of the day, my job is sales. If you are in my establishment, then my pitch is relevant. You sound like you are being approached by strangers. 100% of the time, those are NOT scams you want to spend money on.

Trust me. People who approach you on the street are scams.

To sales people and/or homeless on the street soliciting money my response is always, "No, thank you." And then I keep on.

Works every time.
posted by jbenben at 11:27 PM on March 7, 2013

I used to say "sorry" or "thanks but no thanks" or any of the good options above. I used to smile, or on occasion think "what poor souls that they must have to take this kind of work". But I've decided life's too short even for that. As soon as I know a telephone call is a solicitation, I immediately hang up without saying a word. If someone is handing something out or whatever on the street, I don't even smile -- I just look right through them and continue on my way.

In case that makes you feel like "not a nice person" or something, well, you have my permission in those scenarios to be not a nice person, if that helps.

I doubt that it will ever actually work out this way, but on some level I am ignoring these people because I anticipate that doing so will prove the ineffectiveness of these types of solicitations, which will cause companies to cease with such solicitations altogether. If it helps you to think of you ignoring a sales pitch as an act for the greater good of creating a world without sales pitches, please stand (or walk or hangup) with me and others in solidarity as we fight for the right to not be bothered by sales pitches.
posted by segatakai at 12:46 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're just "curious about what they're selling" then start by asking for their website. If they don't have one then it's not a company worth your interest. After they give you the url, say "thank you, I'll check it out and email any questions. goodbye"
posted by Sophont at 1:57 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have two thoughts, neither of which are polite:

If you want to head off an interaction as it approaches, you can hold out a flat hand. This sends a direct clear message and blocks contact. It is extreme, but if you have having these interactions often maybe it is time to try something extreme.

If I have a minute or two, you can think of sales pitches as free training in conversational assertiveness. Sales people are often well trained, practice the whole day and use scripts that have been optimized over time to achieve the goal of getting you to the point of saying yes. I like to take a challenge and try to interrupt the sales pitch flow and to take control of the discussion. One way to do this is to ask a lot of questions and don't let up until you get the answer that you want. Often the sales person will quickly get frustrated and end the call / contact themselves. For example, if someone calls us on the phone with a 'survey,' I ask them who has funded the survey. This normally works, because they don't know or can't say. Then I turn it into another discussion.
posted by jazh at 2:03 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

If the first 'no' doesn't work, I usually say 'Look, you're wasting your own time as well as mine'.
posted by Segundus at 4:50 AM on March 8, 2013

A friend of mine recently lost his iPhone 5 to pickpockets pretending to gather signatures on a petition.

My husband was scammed out of $20 by a guy in the Paris Metro who helpfully offered to help us navigate the confusing ticket sales kiosk. I was warning my husband that the guy was going to cheat us, but he is such a nice guy that he didn't have the heart to refuse that helpful offer.

All this by way of saying, those folks reaching out to you don't have your best interests at heart. At the very least they're interested in you for their own purposes--be that political in the case of legitimate petitions. Or they want you to give them your money voluntarily, or in some cases as above they will cheat you or steal from you outright.

You are under absolutely no obligation to give strangers anything more than a civil demeanor as you pass. You don't need to be nice to people who are trying to use you for their own purposes and who may well be intending to harm you in some way. Saying "no thank you" firmly as you pass is for *your* benefit, as psychic self-defense.

This is an incredibly important skill to develop--good for you for recognizing the need. Perhaps you can find an assertiveness training class near you if you want to work with someone to help you develop those skills.
posted by Sublimity at 5:03 AM on March 8, 2013

"Hey, good luck with this, but I'm not going to buy and I don't want to waste your time." Then walk away.

Also, for people coming up to me on the street, I smile, shake my head, and then look away while I walk on.
posted by mskyle at 5:51 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a data point, I've been the annoying person making phone calls to sell you vinyl siding--yes, really--and it was made quite clear to us that if we took no for an answer or stopped pitching before the person literally hung up on us, we'd lose our jobs. Don't feel bad disconnecting--you're probably doing them a favor.
posted by MeghanC at 7:09 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you think you need to be polite, then do so, but you still have to walk away/hang up/close the door. I've used phrases like these:

Thanks for the offer, but I'm not interested.

That sounds really good, but I'm not able to participate.

I appreciate the offer, but no thank you.

It doesn't matter what you say; you can be as rude or as polite as you personally like. But you still need to end the encounter immediately. That's the only thing that will make them stop talking.
posted by CathyG at 7:34 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

You got plenty of advice for saying no upfront, but you pointed out yourself that "I often am curious about what they're selling." If you want to satisfy your curiosity, start out by telling them, "Can you give me the 20 second version?" You can get the point, and it also gives a natural stopping point.

When I do this it usually goes something like this:

"Good evening, Mr. Smith. How are you?"
"Great, because I'm calling to tell you about a great opportunity. My company has a product that will make your life easier. Would you like an easier life?"
"Could you give me the 20 second version?"

Then it's either:
"Well, we'd like to invite you to learn about the timeshare at Ocean City."
"Sorry, I'm not interested."

Or sometimes, when they aren't able or willing to stop reading the script:
"Well, your life is going to be totally revolutionized by our product!"
"I'm sorry, I have to go. Goodbye."

Also, they might be especially annoyed if you actually listen for 20 minutes and then say no. You are not being polite by wasting their time.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:39 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was in sales, so here's the thing, you need to aggressively put halt to the discussion.

On the Phone:

Caller: I'd like to discuss a donation to...

Me: No Thank You, have a nice evening. *click*

The kindest thing you can do to a telemarketer is hang up. They have a manager telling them, "Second Attempt! Third Attempt!" as long as you stay on the phone. Thanks to auto-dialers they'll be off on the next calle.

At the door:

Jehovah's Witness: Hello, we'd like to discuss....

Me: Gosh, now is not a good time. Have a nice day. *close*

At the Trade Show/Boat Show:

Guy behind table: Come here! I'd love to show you a demo of our latest product.

Me: No thanks, maybe later!

At the end of the Pitch:

If you somehow got suckered into listening to a pitch, here's how you decline.

Salesman: So, did you want to order it in Blue or Red?

Me: I'm not here to buy anything today. I'm not even sure if I'm in the market for a frammistanie. I've got to go now, have a good day.

Variations include, "Let me walk you to the elevators" or "No, I have a provider that I work with and I'm very happy."

I'm always superpolite, but that's just me.

You can reject sales people, we're used to it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:24 AM on March 8, 2013

In our neighborhood we get a lot of people who come to our door. I don't even open the door anymore. I look out the window to see if it's someone I know. If I don't know them I will say through the door "Who is it?" When they reply with whatever they would like to talk to me about / whatever they are selling, I just say "Sorry" through the door and walk away. To my mind it's just safer than opening your door to a stranger.

When I had a landline I would interrupt the spiel with "Please take my number off of your calling list", and then hang up. Now that I don't have a landline, if I get a call from a number that I don't recognize, I send it straight to voicemail. If it turns out to be someone I know or someone who needs to contact me, like the doctor's office for instance, they will leave a voicemail. And then I am sure to program their number in my phone so their name comes up the next time they call.

Don't fill out survey cards or "win a free trip" cards at the mall or in your dentist's office or wherever, that's where a lot of the call lists are generated.

I very much like being polite to strangers, such as shop clerks or people I pass on the street, but I don't particularly care about or feel guilty for not being polite to someone who doesn't give a whit about me, who is only trying to use me for their own gain.
posted by vignettist at 11:54 AM on March 8, 2013

The most effective way to end a sales pitch is to not let it start in the first place.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:58 PM on March 8, 2013

Not exactly the same thing but when I get unsolicited sales/marketing calls I give them a sales pitch. It usually cuts the conversation short. And I actually made a sale one time when the caller happen to live nearby. That was unexpected to say the least.
posted by 2manyusernames at 4:22 PM on March 8, 2013

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