At each entrance to my neighborhood there are signs posted declaring, “No Soliciting Allowed!”
Of course, we all know those signs become invisible to salespeople. Maybe they don’t know what the word soliciting means, or maybe they think their product isn’t considered a soliciting product. I don’t know, but what I do know is that the signs haven’t been effective at all.
So when I answered my doorbell and saw a chipper young man I’d never seen before standing in my vestibule, I’m sure my face expressed the questions that were on my mind. Who are you? What are you selling? But before I could say anything, he started talking and went on, I believe, without breathing for several minutes. I was more fascinated that he wasn’t breathing than by what he was saying. He apparently believed in his product so much, he wasn’t even going to think about giving up telling me about it until he’d actually shown me how great it really was.
When I finally realized he was, Skip, a salesman selling XYZ vacuum cleaners and shampooers, I very kindly, but firmly, told him I wasn’t interested. I had a perfectly wonderful vacuum cleaner and a shampooer that went with it and I was very happy with them both. That didn’t work. He started his “non-breathing” thing again. I tried telling him, nicely, that our neighborhood didn’t allow solicitors and he might get in trouble, but that didn’t work either. He kept talking. I hate to be mean to people, but this guy wasn’t getting my message, so I backed up a bit so I could gently shut the door in his face.
The door wouldn’t shut. I looked down. I couldn’t believe he’d actually used the old foot in the door trick! I had to admire his tenacity. I told Skip I was not in the market for a vacuum cleaner or shampooer and nothing he said or did would change my mind. He said that was okay, he just wanted to show me. He said there was nooo obligation and he’d vacuum and shampoo an entire room for me at no charge just to show me how wonderful his product was.
At this point I realized he was wearing me down and the only way I was going to get rid of him was by letting him demonstrate his product. So I finally said okay he could demonstrate his product in my living room. He looked beyond me eying my fairly cluttered room with furniture everywhere and probably thought he’d do a small area and then, through his eloquence, sell me his cleaner and shampooer.
I, on the other hand, thought, I might as well get my whole living room vacuumed and shampooed while I had the chance to get it done. Effortlessly and free. So I told him okay. He said it would be a few minutes for him to get all his equipment together and he’d be right with me.
While he was outside, I dashed around and stacked my 5 piece sectional sofa in the adjoining music room along with the coffee table, area rug, two torchier lamps, a folding room screen, an antique chair, two side tables, and an antique brass temple brazier, and two floor cushions.
When he came in the front door with all his equipment, his eyes popped at the sight of the empty carpeted room. Well, he’d said a whole room. So he started vacuuming, telling me and gesturing all the time how well it was cleaning. I was reminded of when my son was small and he would call for me to watch him. “Look mommy, look!” And of course, I’d replied, “Yes, that’s really wonderful.”
When the room was all done, it really did look wonderful and I was happy I wasn’t the one who’d had to do all that work, for a change. I did feel a little guilty that I didn’t buy the vacuum cleaner or the shampooer, but after all, I had told Skip that all along. I wished him much success and told him he was very persuasive and a good salesman, but that I was just not in the market for his product. I think we both felt good when he left.
I’d love to hear about your salesperson experiences.
Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.
Join her here each 11th of the month.