When you ASSume…

By Chuck Sink | March 8, 2013

By Chuck Sink

The day before a recent holiday which many love to celebrate, I wanted to orderme on phonesomething nice for my wife so I called the store of one of my networking contacts. This store owner and I had developed a typically nice networking relationship. One of the topics we’ve talked about is email marketing, something she knows I do for clients. Early in the day of my call I got an e-blast from her business and it made me pick up the phone to order from her.

I knew the store would be busy just before this holiday and I was doing what new customers do. Call ahead, ask about options and place an order for pick up. I asked for my contact by name and the person who answered was a bit stiff and guarded asking “Is she expecting your call?” My answer was no. “Hold on a minute.”

The owner got on the phone and I stated who I was. “Oh, hi Chuck.” Her tone was rushed. I said. “Hey, like we talked about before, email marketing works! I got your e-blast this morning and it prompted me to call.” Then she said, “Chuck, it’s the day before Valentines Day! We are super busy here! Can you call back another time?” I knew at that point she assumed I was making a sales call to her. I followed with, “Yes it is and I need to order a bouquet for my wife.” Then, realizing I was a customer instead of a salesman the conversation turned to business, became more friendly and there was a happy ending. I bought a couple of nice things for my wife – more than what I set out to buy – and felt good about patronizing a networking contact’s business. But I didn’t forget about the initially cool response to my call.

This experience stuck with me because there’s a pointed lesson here. Treat everyone, including sales reps, with kindness and respect.

Did you know that people who sell for a living buy a lot of stuff just like anyone else? Most business owners are the top salespeople for their firms. And did you know that many sales professionals are excellent referral sources for their prospects as well as their customers?

Most professional salespeople are respectful of their prospects’ time and avoid wasting it. Treat them like the fellow professionals they are. Avoid the assumption they’re always looking to clean out your wallet or waste your time. They might just be your next new customer. They might even refer the biggest sale you ever made – to you!

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17 thoughts on “When you ASSume…

  1. tony bommarito

    without a doubt! before i got into sales i was a truck driver delivering product for our company. we delivered food to restaurants. if they treated me nice coming in the back door, i knew i would be treat great coming in the front as a customer.

  2. Tonya Ray

    Nice point, Chuck. I have noticed this exact response from people I call, until they warm up and realize I am speaking to them like one human being to another. I’m sure they are inundated with sales calls but that initial annoyance is certainly remembered…

  3. Karen

    Hi Chuck
    Thanks for the great illustration of your point. Couldn’t be more timely as I’m meeting with a sales person this morning. To build on your point, could I add that the salesperson you talk to today could refer your next great hire to you….or could tell you about your “dream job” in the future.

  4. Jim Hausch

    Nice post. As a rep, I can relate! So often we must fight so hard to gain trust and credibility that it hurts when someone we’ve won over is still spring loaded to the “don’t trust sales people” setting…

    It is a pity you got the phone manners you did from the first person. That experience, followed by the initial experience with the boss, would seem to indicate an issue of culture/the boss setting the tone.

    In retrospect (or, next time in a similar situation) would you have changed your approach?

    Considering the date of your call, could you have placed the order with the person who answered the phone, and left a friendly message for the boss? Or, perhaps, “this is Chuck, your marketing consultant, and I am calling too place an order”

    I wonder if what you experienced is the same as a purveyor gets visiting a chef/restaurant owner during the lunch rush…even of just to say hi before sitting down for lunch?

    Again, great post.

  5. Daniel

    I’d have to disagree with this article. The flower shop’s busiest days of the year is the day before and the day of valentine’s day. Therefore, any business owner would be stressed out enough not to take any SALES calls. If your sales call is so important know your customer, do some research, and avoid calling them when they are slammed. Seems like calling them when you know they are super busy will permanently put you on the customer’s bad list. This article seems to be arrogant at best, demanding respect because all this time you were selling, and this one time you were buying and the client is somehow supposed to know that…

    1. Chuck Post author

      Thanks for your comment. Just to clarify: Who said I was selling all this time? We had a networking relationship, nothing else. I never attempted to sell the store owner anything. We each informed the other of our respective businesses at a couple networking events, that’s all. When it came time to buy, the wrong assumption was made. If you’re stressed in business, join the party and have some fun! 🙂

    1. Chuck Post author

      You’re signed up, Pat. Thanks for subscribing to the Chuck Sink Link Newsletter.

  6. Maurice Dixon

    Thanks for your great message about sales people and their clout.

  7. Dana

    I think there’s a bigger lesson here than be nice… it’s if you’re going to make an assumption, assume there’s a sale! If I were the business owner I would have gotten on the phone and asked if you bought your wife flowers yet! You would have bought from me regardless of your answer! 😉

    And hey— how come I’m reading so many blogs recently that are venting about poor experiences? Doesn’t anyone have anything positive and wonderful that we can all learn from?

  8. Michael

    I agree completely. Beauty Salon, dog groomer, pharmacy, music store – good money is spent at these client businesses. Also, I definitely am always on the look out for good opportunities for them.

  9. Viji Sashikant

    Absolutely true. Also be nice to waitresses, check-out clerks and pest control technicians. I’m a Realtor and I’ve had referrals and sales from all of the above.

  10. ed cvelbar

    Great article. Great insight. I will definitely pass that along. Thanks for taking the time to write it. So many don’t. – Ed

  11. David Goldberg

    Great story. I’m 110% with you. I sell auto parts and I’ve said the same thing. They don’t know if I’ll be the one to refer their next best customer.

  12. Steve

    Maybe people need to learn how to handle sales calls or institute a process so that they are not an interuption, and then they wouldn’t need to guess they are getting a sales call or change the way that they handle calls.

    When I think that I am on the receiving end of a sales call, I follow the process just long enough until I hear a qualification or information statement, and then I state, “Hey I think you might have some great ideas, would you mind sending me some information?” Almost everyone takes the bait – then I review the information at my leisure.

    Of those that are unwilling to send me information – their loss.


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