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The Stupidity of Silence

It always astounds me when people in business don’t follow-up with a simple thank you email or even a note – when was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? – after we’ve had some type of interaction.

For my sins, I’ve been brought up to say “please” and “thank you” and even, heaven forbid, open the door for ladies. I know that such behaviour is archaic, uncool and totally unexpected in today’s ‘every man for himself’ age, but it works for me.

That’s not to say that all people don’t appreciate manners. Take me, for example. Not surprisingly, I love it when people are polite. Mainly because it shows that they actually give a damn about our interaction.

That’s why it always astounds me when people in business don’t follow-up with a simple thank you email or even a note – when was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? – after we’ve had some type of interaction.

This is particularly the case when someone has unsuccessfully asked for a meeting, a job or a sale. Most of the time, if I say “no thank you” I get nothing back. Silence. They’ve moved on to new prospects because I didn’t give them what they wanted.

How stupid. As the old sales expression goes ‘No doesn’t mean no, it just means not now.’

For the cost of spending 2 minutes writing a “Thanks, sorry we couldn’t do a deal this time. Maybe we can work together in the future…” email, their last impression with me would have been a positive one. Instead, their silence showed me that the decision not to work with them was probably the right one.

We’re all in sales, so rejection comes with the territory. You have to look beyond today’s no and focus on the long-term relationship you can form with the person who has just rejected what you’re offering. It’s important to remember that they didn’t reject you, they rejected what you were selling.

Some of the best clients I’ve ever worked with said no for several years until the time was right for them to say yes. The only person who misses out if you don’t keep in touch with the person who just said “thanks but no thanks” is you.
Keep in touch. Keep showing up. Show you care. It’s the smart thing to do.

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