BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 24 SEP 2020


Learn to Love No


You need to love rejection because the friend zone is a demoralising place; no is rarely never; and in our COVID times, no will open up a smorgasbord of opportunity.

Murder On The Dancefloor

If you get stuck in the friend zone you won’t get as far as killing the groove below a glitterball with Sophie Ellis Bexter, never mind to that purple velour banquette in the far corner.

At the half hour coffee you vaguely suggested another hot drink sometime. The second hot drink includes cake (blueberry muffin and tiffin), your prospect paid this time (a bad sign) and the chat was as tepid as a bucket of Latte from a busy Starbucks. It’s Groundhog Day when they cheerily suggest the dreaded “keeping in touch”. You are one hot drink from being a sounding board, a confidant, someone it’s great-to-chat-about-stuff-with-no-pressure-talk (the friend zone).

Once there, you will never close the deal but someone else will: relationship builders close the fewest sales, challengers the most.

Moral: We can put too much emphasis on avoiding the hard sell (who wants to be that?) and slip into the never sell. Know your purpose, be confident and assertive and always ask (for something).

Love In The Time Of Cholera

Fifty years, nine months and four days after first declaring his love for Fermaza, Florentino did so again. He had gone off, had a successful career and many lovers as he waited for his chance, while Fermaza made the safe choice and lived a respectable, if passionless, life with the eminent Dr. Urbino.

Marquez’ love story is truly one for our times and you might read it. Or let it inspire you to go to your database, social media stack and black book, get yourself organised and scare up some old contacts. Times change, people move on, opportunities pop up and leads arrive in the most unexpected circumstances. Make things happen. It is unlikely that, like Florentino, your elevator pitch will be at the funeral of the husband of the woman you have loved all your life, but if that happens you can record it and blog about it.

Moral: No is rarely never (though the hard NO is a good answer). Get in touch, keep in touch… and rekindle the flame.  

I Want It That Way

Keep the Backstreet Boys in mind when you are rejected because it’s a type of rejection on the up. Your world has changed and so has everyone's: budget, scope, strategy, personnel, timing and pricing. They might want it, but not your way. It doesn’t matter how you want it, or how you were at it in March of this year: that’s ancient history.

They need it doing another way because the ground is shifting at warp speed, everything is changing every day and your smart response is what keeps you in the game. The qualified NO that feels insulting because you have enough data to choke an elephant (your data and slides and case studies may, in fact, be useless or even harmful) is the best news you will hear if you use your ears and suspend the need to go anywhere near the dancefloor for now.

Think empathy in action, stay at the bar, keep chatting, wait for your moment: be present, be curious, be flexible.

Moral: You’ve heard it before but it’s worth repeating: it’s the most adaptable- not the strongest- who survive.



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