Saying “No”

by teresalaynebennett

photo of resistant customer in furniture store

How long before a pro gets him to say yes?

Learning when to say yes and when to “just say no” (á la former First Lady Nancy Reagan) has to be one of life’s most valuable discernments.

If you’ve ever had an encounter with a professional salesman (as opposed to the non-professional hordes who greet you in most retail stores), you know the alarming consequences of not having developed this ability. After an unfortunate engagement with one of these guys, you wonder what hit you.

Why did you buy something you can’t afford and didn’t even think you wanted that badly? You bought because he’s an expert at moving you along to that holy-grail-YES – the one which earns him a juicy-fat commission – and that all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii.

How does he do it?

Here’s a clue from my last professional-salesman skirmish. See if you can spot it.

Pro: “Gorgeous day, isn’t it?”

TLB: “Yes, it is gorgeous out there.”

Pro: “You looking for [whatever his store is selling]?”

TLB: “Actually, I am.” Duh. why am I there otherwise? (Notice he didn’t ask if I were “looking to buy,” just “looking for.”)

Pro: “I expect you’d like to be left alone and look around for a while.”

TLB: “Yes, thanks.” Yes. Please DO go away.

A little later.

Pro: “I notice you keep coming back to this [whatever I’ve been circling back to over and over].”

TLB: “Yeah. I guess I have.”

Pro: “Would you like a brochure about it? I think that manufacturer left us a few.” 

TLB: “Yes, thank you.” A “few”? A cartload, I’ll bet.

Pro: “Here you go. Nice, isn’t it? This manufacturer really goes all out on their advertising.” (Translation: If a manufacturer spends this much on their advertising, just think what they’re willing to sink into their products!)

TLB: “Whoa. This is nice.”

Enough of that. You were paying attention and found the obvious clue. After only six minutes on the battlefield, I’d already said yes or its synonym six times. Count ‘em: six. AND the two of us hadn’t discussed anything remotely involving product features, benefits, prices, terms, etc. in this introductory sparring. He was good.

And I was embarrassingly

  • Outmaneuvered because Mr. Pro kept plying me with seemingly innocuous questions to which the only reasonable answer was yes. He never gave me a chance to just say no.
  • Outmaneuvered again when he deftly asked questions about my mental wish list.
  • Outmaneuvered yet again when he circled around with questions that lured me into signaling possible willingness to part with my credit card for a few seconds.

In minutes, I became a conquered blob, so accustomed to saying yes that I couldn’t help (later on this bloody battlefield) but say it one last, fateful, costly time.

That’s how the yes mentality works; it’s a habit, a way of thinking and responding. The professional salesman simply encouraged me to slip into this otherwise healthy habit as skillfully as a Lord of the Rings swordsman backs an Orc into a corner.

As we saw in Saying Yes, living life with a will-do, yes habit is a good thing. But there are situations, like this area of spending money, in which we need to decide we’d rather eat glass than fall into our normal yes habit. So how do we prepare ourselves to say no to these sales-guy pros (and even the not-so-professional sales guys and gals)?

You thought I’d never get here, didn’t you? Check out my disarmingly simple tricks for learning how to say no to spending in my next post. And, as always, pay attention!

© 2014 Teresa Layne Bennett

red box with white text: "Too many people spend money they haven't earned to buy things they don't want to impress people they don't like." – Will Rogers

Will Rogers got it right – 80-plus years ago!