Disclaimer: I think this only works in the South.
Being the mom of a special needs child, I am used to hearing the word ‘no’ from vendors, providers, and especially insurance companies. But this time it was different. I felt so happy to hear it. I left an urgent, informed and determined message with a special needs equipment vendor in Chattanooga. I knew it was a long shot that this guy could help me and I wanted him to know I was a safe risk. I presented my case: If he could just order a piece of demo equipment for my son, I could guarantee it would work because it was the same device we’d had before only one size larger. I offered to pay return shipping if, for any reason, it didn’t work out. Maybe only two days later, this charming man returned my call.
1. Begin with a compliment. “Hello Ms. Hedzik. What a pleasure to receive your well-spoken message. You are obviously an intelligent woman who knows what she wants. How I wish we had more customers like you right here in Chattanooga.” With an intro like that he could have told me I owed him $500 and I’d have said let me wire you the money immediately.
2. Answer objections honestly. This warm Southern gentleman answered all my questions directly and honestly, even to the point of sharing anecdotal vendor stories that should never be repeated. He empathized with my struggle. I understood his position. It didn’t make sense for him to order the demo unit for us. But what to do next? He educated me on how to work with the system to get what I needed. He was helpful. I was hopeful.
3. Make another offer. Knowing I was not from the South, he saw an opportunity to sell me on the historical town where he lived and worked. I listened with growing interest to all the plugs for this Southern gem that I had never seen. I was taking in the wisdom of his advice to slow down and look around. On every level. I was half way to packing my things for a weekend away, when my rebellious, compulsive-obsessive neurons overtook my limited serotonin receptors. What about my son’s equipment? I had to find it before I could rest! But now that I had a friend for life in Tennessee, I could look forward to a fun, historical family getaway sometime.
I would not be the least bit surprised if my new friend took all five of us out to dinner and paid for our accommodations at the nicest B & B in town. Some of you are laughing out loud right now because you know how naive I can be. But even if all his charm was just the Southern way of saying NO, I’ll take it. I never felt better about being turned away:)