Saying No to Pushy Salespeople Can Help You Professionally

I found myself getting annoyed by an extremely persistent salesperson last week. Their initial outreach made it seem like they weren’t selling anything, but after reading daily efforts to engage in a conversation, they went into a hard sell about their solution being the answer to all my problems. I was in the middle of my trying to be nice mode and responded that I appreciated the need for her services, but I was fortunate given the nature of my work to not require what she offered.

sales rep

She didn’t know me and hadn’t researched enough about me to grasp what my needs might be. Rather, I fell into the category of to a hammer (salesperson) everyone is a perfect nail (customer).

It was a useful reminder that if you don’t conform to their conventions, some people just won’t get you. That can be perfectly ok, but it makes it all the more urgent that you understand yourself.  This will ultimately be what gives you the confidence to push back on others in their attempts to direct you.

Of course, understanding yourself and being able to describe a set of goals is important to help you not just turn away the marauding hordes, but also to help align the decisions on which you build the foundation of your career, to network successfully and feel confident in who you are. However, in this scenario where someone tells you that everyone wants to be X, you are in a position of replying that after much thoughtful consideration you’ve been pulled in the direction of Y instead.

Using my recent interaction as a guide. I was being instructed that my goals must be similar to those of other professionals. Her pitch offered that I must prioritize:

  1. Make more money and take on more clients regardless of fit
  2. Focus on becoming a bigger name and getting as much publicity as possible via leveraging my reputation
  3. Expanding further into other businesses or audiences

Her pitch was based on what everyone else wants and that I must clearly want too. However, my goals don’t conform with others.

A) I know that my goal is to work intimately with a small number of people who are making the greatest impact on the world. It isn’t the number of clients, but a carefully selected group of clients. Furthermore, some of them won't have great access to resources, but maximizing income isn't my priority. Maximizing impact is what drives me.

B) The energy it takes to fight your way up the fame hill seems exhausting. It feels like some of those who make it up there pay a price in their overall emotional well-being, the grind of time that can often not have an impact, and I see how it can undermine the trust of those you hope to serve. I place building trust as a partner above the rewards of possible fame.

C) I am not called to spend time on other revenue models or groups when there is so much to be done where I am and where I bring such specific and hard to replace value. I know enough now about my strengths and the needs of who I want to engage that these pitches don’t have power.

By the way, even if my goals did conform with others, there are many ways to realize them. Anyone selling you on the proven way is often saying the only way I’ve succeeded which is also often based on a very limited sample size.

As you go through your professional life you should frequently ask yourself:

Who do I want to engage with as I consider what work to pursue?

What do I want to get from work? What are my priorities?

How does this fit with what I want from life overall?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you as you encounter self-doubt and those who are well intentioned, or not. Now I can easily encounter folks that they don't grasp people like me because I know my values aren't typical. However, I understand myself and knowing that is all that matters.

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