Marketing Speaker: The Stupidest Sales Rejection Ever

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Marketing Speaker: The Stupidest Sales Rejection Ever


marketing speaker marketing coachHave you ever been rejected out of hand by a prospect who not only doesn't understand what it is you DO but - as a bonus - also told you they already have it taken care of in-house? 

It's like they're saying, "Uh, I don't know what that is, but we already have that here."

This is what I call rejection by ignorance (RBI). And it is one of the most frustrating things you'll run into as a marketing or sales executive - and certainly as an entrepreneurial business owner. 

Quick example from my world - and let's see how this story applies to YOU and YOUR products, services and value proposition...

First, a bit of background to set the context. As a marketing speaker and marketing coach, I market and sell to two audiences. 

1. For marketing coaching, I market to small business owners, consultants and professional services firms.

2. For speaking, I market to conferences, associations and various industry groups. 

After reading this post, you will pick up some tools for marketing YOUR products and services better, smarter and faster - and you'll also see how to avoid one of the STUPIDEST sales rejections ever. 

Ready? Strap in - this could get ugly...

Oh, wait...

First, let me share a really good speaker prospecting letter with you. I use this one to get back in touch with speaking clients and also to cross-sell and upsell along the geographic hierarchy (local - state - regional - national) of organizations I've already spoken for.

(All names changed to protect.... well, you know!) Here it is: 

Dear Glenda,

I'm hoping you can help me. I'm trying to get in touch with the person responsible for selecting speakers for your [insert organization name] national conferences for two reasons:

1. To invite them to a conversation with me about exploring our possible fit for your speaker roster in 2013 - I presented an extremely well-received keynote at the regional [insert organization name] last year and would love to do more for [insert organization name].

The conference promo from last year is attached for your reference and the special welcome video I did for your group is here: [Youtube link]

2. If a high-energy, high-content marketing program is not a fit, I can recommend several other outstanding professional speakers to you because of my active involvement and leadership roles within the National Speakers Association.

Please do get back to me and let me know your thoughts.

-- David Newman

[Signature block]

So far, so good. And please DO use this letter template above if you're a speaker, consultant, or a professional who uses speaking to generate leads and revenue for your firm.

(And yes, you're very welcome!)

And now here's where things get stupid...

A very nice person forwarded my note to their national HQ. I got this 3-line email from HQ. Please keep your eye out for the aforementioned RBI - rejection by ignorance.


[Nice person] forwarded your email to me. I work with our conferences and events. Because of our arrangement with [corporate HQ], we do not have marketing speakers on our programs. [Our organization] has their own marketing division and provides the marketing support to all offices in the country, so it is not part of our professional development portfolio.


As best as I can tell, she's telling me, "Uh, we have a department that does that."

That's funny because I've spoken for clients like IBM, Microsoft, TD Bank, Merrill Lynch, and Accenture and I'm pretty sure THEY all have marketing departments too!

By this logic, no Fortune 500 company would hire a sales speaker because:

They have a sales department.

No large organization would hire an outside training company because:

They have a training department.

No multi-national corporation would use a recruiting firm because (say it with me, now):

They have a recruiting department.

So what should YOU do to avoid (or recover from) RBI?

Acknowledge it - love it - embrace it.

Corollary: If you can't market and sell to ignorant people who give you stupid excuses, you're going to have a very brief career in sales.

Oh, damn... was this microphone on?

Back to the show...

The tricky part is you never know when you're going to run into this particular brand of stupidity so I don't recommend doing anything differently up front.

Once RBI rears it's ugly head, your best chance at a recovery is what I call CSI. This stands for Complement and Supplement In-house efforts.

Here's a sample phone conversation or an email reply back to little Susie Creamcheese* at the global HQ of the Moron Corporation above:


Thank you for your note. I understand completely.

Most organizations that I work with also have a robust marketing department.

They value the programs we collaborate on precisely because I help them with strategies, tactics and tools that complement and supplement what they're already doing in-house.

I'm attaching a brief overview of the program I'm proposing along with 5 testimonial letters from clients in your industry who have a strong central marketing function AND who had great things to say about the results of our work together.

Worth a 10-minute phone conversation? Let me know either way and thanks in advance for considering it.

-- David Newman
[signature block]


Eat that, Jack.

RBI has met CSI and it's game over.

Hope that was as good for you as it was for me.

Little Susie Creamcheese is a favorite saying of my speaking colleague, David Yoho. Hire him. He's awesome.

Let's hear YOUR thoughts on RBI in the COMMENTS area below. Dig in and...

marketing speaker marketing coach stupid sales objection


Great advice, David! I realize that no technique yields 100% results, and I'm wondering if you have a sense of how much this clear technique has helped "get past" such ignorance. In other words, how persistent are the ignorant? [smile] If the ignorance persists, do you try again, or figure your time is better spent elsewhere? Thanks!
Posted @ Tuesday, June 12, 2012 1:35 PM by Donn King
Great question. I never force the issue. After 1-2 attempts at clarification, during which I put all the blame on myself for not articulating my message clearly ("I apologize - I probably didn't put that the right way - I may have unintentionally misled you about... I probably didn't give you enough information about what I'm asking about"... and so on) I DO let them go. There are WAY greener pastures for prospecting and I'd rather work with someone who actually WANTS what I'm selling and who is not STRUGGLING to understand it or fit it into their world!
Posted @ Tuesday, June 12, 2012 2:04 PM by David Newman
Nice article David, thanks for sharing!I think RBI happens so much because people do not want to take the time to understand. I think using CSI right up front will help and can move the process forward.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 13, 2012 12:07 PM by Tessie Gale
Thank you for reading and for your observation. Although I see where you're coming from, it is sometimes best not to raise an objection FOR the prospect before they've had a chance to absorb the initial value prop. Some folks will see right away what you're offering and move to the next step. No point derailing your own sales process early in the game if you don't have to. Perhaps try it BOTH ways with a handful of new prospects and see which works best for you to move the sale forward.  
-- David
Posted @ Wednesday, June 13, 2012 12:14 PM by David Newman
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About the author: 
David Newman is a marketing expert, professional speaker and founder of Do It! Marketing, a marketing strategy firm dedicated to making thought-leading entrepreneurs and executives more successful. Free resources including David’s 97-page Strategic Marketing eBook are available online at Contact David directly at or call (610) 716-5984. Order David’s book, "Do It! Marketing," and get over $747 in business-building bonuses at

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