9

The Situation

Twice this week I have been bothered by persistent individuals looking to sell or market something, but in neither occasions has it been possible to simply walk off.

The first took place at my house where a person attempting to sell a product knocked on the door. I politely informed them that I am not interested in their product, they acknowledged my statement but continued to ask questions, to which I had to interrupt and say "I said that I'm not interested" before closing the door.

The second occurred at a coffee shop where I was having a conversation with another person when someone interrupted and began saying "I'm not trying to sell you anything, but...". Given the material they were holding, they were clearly trying to market a graduate recruitment service so I said "Sorry; we're not interested". Again, they ignored my intent and replied "Not interested in having a job?". They would not accept the fact that we are in fact employed and do not wish to be interrupted, and would not leave us alone until I had to resort again to "I told you we are not interested. Please go away.", at which point they acted as if I had been extremely rude to them (of course, telling someone to go away is rude, but I felt out of options) before attempting to insult me ("I'm glad that I'm not your employer") and finally walking away.

In both of these situations, I wished to stop the person from selling or advertising something that I have no interest in, and both individuals had interrupted something else I was doing. However, it was not possible or desirable for myself to walk away as with the answers in this topic, instead, it required the other person to acknowledge my disinterest and remove themselves, however, both were reluctant to do so.

Question

Is there an efficient way of dismissing such people without them attempting to continue marketing their service, and without appearing as rude to other individuals nearby?

For context, these occurred in the United Kingdom, although I expect answers would be similar for other countries.

  • The text explains why it is not a duplicate of that specific question -- please see the paragraph directly above the 'Question' heading. – CaffeineZ Nov 2 '17 at 12:42
  • out of curiosity, do you make eye contact with them when speaking? – faustus Nov 2 '17 at 14:48
  • 1
    I'm finding this sufficiently different from my own question (that's linked as a duplicate here) to not warrant closing as a duplicate... OP is true in their assessment that I could walk away, while they can not. I'm curious how to deal with these situations myself as well :) – Tinkeringbell Nov 2 '17 at 15:08
  • Similar (for the home case): interpersonal.stackexchange.com/q/249/106 – Monica Cellio Nov 3 '17 at 4:04
14

Who cares? If a bunch of strangers in a coffee shop, whom you most likely will never see again, think you're rude, what does that matter?

This sales tactic relies on your lack of desire to be rude. Any response you give them will be a reason for them to argue with you to try to push the sale. The only response you need to give is "not interested, thanks" and keep repeating that. if you are worried about appearing rude, who will people think is ruder: the person who continually says "not interested, thanks" or the person who won't listen to that?

WRT your door: it's your door. Tell them "thanks, not interested" and close the door. It's not rude. As long as they have you talking, they think there's a possibility to make a sale. YOU own the door; you get to decide who you converse with there. Much like a telemarketer on the phone, the only way to get them to stop the conversation is for you to end it and they will try to keep you talking as long as possible for the reason I stated above. Any response you give them will only encourage them, even if it's to say something to "Not interested in having a job?"

It's not necessary to be harsh or cruel; they're trying to make a living. But saying you're not interested repeatedly will get the point across and closing the door will prevent that person from wasting their time on a sale that won't happen. And that is more polite than arguing with them about why you don't want their product and wasting their time.

5

As a rule of thumb, the seller/street fundraiser that receives two "no" knows that in most of cases they already failed to sell to that person and insisting is only going to waste their time, so saying no twice is sufficient. (Source: a friend working as a street fundraiser.)

There are some other strategies you can follow:

  • The white lie

    It's an excellent product! I already have it /I already worked for them/I already fund this charity! Bye!

    This being told with the warmest smile and while making eye contact. It works very well with street fundraisers.

  • The thoughtful customer

    My dear, I don't want to waste your time, I'm not interested.

    Always telling it in the nicest way.

  • The counterattack

    Ehi! Nice to see you, are you having a good day? Did you find nice people? How much time until the next pause?

    In short, assail them (nicely) with lots of questions. Their work is based on making a good impression on people, so they will answer and you will have the time to slip away.

From a general point of view, the most important thing is to be extremely nice. Being a seller or street fundraiser means that people tend to be cold with you, to say the least. Giving a really nice message both with words and with the body language is already something they do not expect, even more if mixed with a "no". Plus, they will appreciate it and the interaction will be more pleasant from both sides.

  • 1
    the thoughtful customer response is my favorite. – baldPrussian Nov 2 '17 at 17:32
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    I wouldn't call the "2 no's mean no sale" a rule of thumb. You have a friend that abides by this guideline. There are many, many philosophies and strategies for selling. – bluescores Nov 2 '17 at 20:32
2

The first took place at my house where a person attempting to sell a product knocked on the door.

BEFORE opening the door, ask "Who is this" and if it is not someone you know politely state "I am not interested" and walk away without opening the door.

The second occurred at a coffee shop where I was having a conversation with another person when someone interrupted and began saying "I'm not trying to sell you anything, but...".

This is a rare case that I believe you need to break my golden rule of "always be nice". As soon as someone says "I am not trying to sell you something but.." immediate raise your voice just an octave above theirs and say "Then don't".

Sales people by nature are a bit pushy/persistent and are used hearing a standard version of the answer "no".

What you want these unwelcome sales people to hear is your version of "Hell No". Having began my career in sales, most professionals will recognize it and move along. Those that don't you either have to ignore or walk away from.

2

If someone is trying to sell you something, which you don't want, and politely informed them of your lack of interest, and they still continue to talk you into it, then it's not you who is being rude, but they are.

IMO it's not bad manners or being rude to tell someone like that to go away, or to close the door in their face. In case of the coffee shop, if they still don't comply with the request to go away, talk to the proprietor or server and they may kick them out. It can't be in their interest to have people in their shop who molest the patrons.

But in any case, don't worry that the sellers may think you're being rude, because you're not. They are.

1

I believe that the only thing you can really do is to either state that you have no interest two times, as in your examples, or very strongly the first time.

When you state your disinterest the normal and polite way they will most likely think that they can still convince you and will try to do so until you state it firmly that you REALLY have no interest.

The second way would be to say something like "I'm sorry but I have no interest in your product and wish that you would leave me be. Have a good day" Which most likely would sound strong/harsh enough for them to not try it a second time.

They would not accept the fact that we are in fact employed and do not wish to be interrupted, and would not leave us alone until I had to resort again to "I told you we are not interested. Please go away.", at which point they acted as if I had been extremely rude to them (of course, telling someone to go away is rude, but I felt out of options) before attempting to insult me ("I'm glad that I'm not your employer") and finally walking away.

In your second example you actually were pretty rude to the person which most likely felt offended. You definitely could have said that nicer, but you will never know how soon a person feels offended so there actually is not much you could do against that.

Simply be firm but friendly and in most cases they will leave you be as there would be no point for them to stay with you when they cant sell you anything.

  • 4
    "In your second example you actually were pretty rude to the person which most likely felt offended. " Although it may come off as rude completely out of context (and even perhaps to this person pitching); in context it didn't really seem rude. They just had their conversation interrupted from some sort of recruiter, who wouldn't leave them alone even when asked to. At that point it's not really rude to be blunt. – JMac Nov 2 '17 at 13:00
  • @JMac I never said that it was unjustified but bluntness can come of as or sometimes simply is rude no matter if the other person is impolite/rude himself. From my experience politeness mostly gets the job done as well. – MansNotHot Nov 2 '17 at 13:08
1

tl;dr: unsolicited sales pitches are not a social interaction and should use different standards of politeness.

You have no obligation to listen to unwanted sales pitches. People who do cold sales for a living or an income are used to being brushed off and it is not at all rude to cut them off quickly and efficiently. Your desire to be polite and refrain from rudeness is abused as a wedge to increase sales opportunities.

It is more polite to cut off the conversation quickly so they can find the next target than to draw out the interaction.

In the case of the caller at your door you already found the optimal solution: say "no, thanks" and close the door. Anyone with any experience in door-to-door sales calling will realize there is no opportunity and move on. (If you are on a targeted list of high-value customers they may ring again, in which case you are perfectly free to dispense with being polite.)

In the case of the marketing brochures pushed on you at the cafe, if you didn't want to appear rude in front of other people, you can say something like "I am trying to be polite, but please go away." That makes it clear to everyone around you that you are not deliberately being rude. (We will ignore the case of people who loudly claim that they are trying to be polite while taking impolite actions.)

(As other people have said, this was the point where you could have reasonably asked the cafe staff to help you out, though that may have made you appear to be the one being rude. Most cafe staff would want to be notified if someone is bothering their patrons, as it is bad for business.)

And again, once someone has pushed their way in front of you with an unwanted sales pitch, this is no longer a social interaction, this is a business interaction, and a social level of politeness is not only no longer required, it is a vulnerability the sales person has been trained to deliberately exploit.

Source: personal experience, including selling giant lollipops door to door long ago as part of a youth group fundraiser, and working as a phone customer service rep with mandatory upselling.

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