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Archive:

There isn't a single person that hasn't extended him or herself to a some one else and come up empty handed.

What do most of us do when that situation occurs? We put our tail between our legs, crawl away and think of excuses why they didn't follow our directions, heed our advice or buy our products. That's the natural response, and it probably won't make us feel better and it certainly won't help us promote and sell our products.

Let me begin this article with a story involving my 10-year-old son, Craig, when he was cut from a "major" baseball team that he wanted to join. Upon hearing the devastating news, he came home and shed a few tears and thought about how miserable the summer would be playing in a "minor" league.

I suggested that he write the coach a letter to thank him for giving him an opportunity to try out and for all the instruction he received during the month of try-outs. My son just sniffled and told me that he was only ten, and he couldn't do that. That evening I came home and found a letter that he wrote to the coach. He expressed his appreciation for giving him a chance to make the team, and that he felt his baseball skills had improved as a result of working with the good players and the coach. He also wished the coach and the team good luck, and that he would come around to cheer and root for them. Upon reading that letter, I awakened my son and congratulated him on hitting a home run.

The coach wrote to my son and told him that in 15 years of coaching he had never received a letter like that from a player who made the team, let alone from a player who was cut. He also mentioned that Craig had class and character and that he would be a success both on and off the field and that he was looking forward to his trying out next year.

My message is that if a ten-year-old boy can say "thanks" when the coach says "no" then all of us can say "thanks for giving me a chance to show you my products or my services" when the customer says "no". I can assure you, that just like Craig's coach, it will be the only thank you that they will receive from a doctor or a sales person when they don't use your products or services.

Does this work? Yes, but not always. I recall a sales representative that called on me for several months and encouraged me to switch to her product, which was very similar to one that I had been using for nearly 15 years. She wrote me several notes and each time said, "thank you for seeing me and learning about my product." Nearly 6 months later she came in for a visit and gave me a laminated copy of an article that appeared in Pharmaceutical Representative. That day she received my undivided attention, and her kindness and persistence resulted in changing a 15-year prescribing habit. All this for a few letters and a few dollars to have the article laminated.

Another time a medical manufacturing representative came for a visit and I told him that I used his competitor's product and was satisfied with the product and the service. He said that he would be by on a regular basis and would be available if the situation ever changed with the competitor's product or service. After every visit he sent a note of thanks and promised to come back in a month. After nearly 15 visits, he came when a window of opportunity occurred and he was there to fill a void that occurred that was not being met by the competitor.

I recall having seen a patient that came to discuss surgery, and who had visited with several other doctors in the community and decided to have his surgery elsewhere. When I heard he was in the hospital, I went by to visit him after surgery and wished him a speedy recovery. He called me several months later and thanked me for the visit and requested an appointment to see me concerning another health matter.

Would he have called if I didn't stop by to visit? I don't know. But as my wise Jewish mother would say the visit didn't "hoit."

Bottom Line: Let's take a lesson from Craig and those sales representatives who said, "Thanks for saying no". If everyone said 'yes' to all of our sales presentations, we wouldn't need representatives at all. We would be out of a job. One way to hopefully insure a sale is to thank those customers, clients and patients that say 'no". I can assure you that eventually this kind of response on your part will change 'no's' to "go's"

P.S. Craig did well in the minors and worked hard all winter and tried out and made the "majors" the very next summer!

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