I Am Not Your Customer


We all occasionally get someone trying to sell us something we really don’t want or need. We try to tell them and they just keep selling. Push, push, push. What a pain.

I’d like to point out that this is not just a problem in the marketplace. It is often even bigger problem in our discussions.

When we are in a discussion, we all work to sell our ideas. Sometimes we can be just as pushy as the over-the-top salesman. Maybe it is an aggressive selling of our ideas, or a passive-aggressive sales pitch.

A common cause of this behavior is a lack of awareness of ourselves and of the perspectives of others. For instance, when I meet someone at a speaking engagement or a business networking event, I often ask about what their “ideal customers” look likes and how would I recognize them. I’m wanting to understand so that if I choose to make an introduction later, I’m less likely to waste everyone’s time. A surprising number of people will say, “Everyone can be my customer!”

Man with a barcode on his forehead

So, does this person really think the Pope, a small boy in China, and the original members of the Rolling Stones are all realistic potential customers? Probably not, but it is essentially what they just said.

What that type of answer tells me is they have no idea who their real customers are, likely because they are not paying attention. In theory, sure everyone might be a customer. Realistically though, for any given message, product or service some people are more likely than others to be a customer. Maybe they have a greater need, stronger desire, bigger pains, or can be more easily convinced.

The big problem with people who push their thoughts, ideas, products, or services on EVERYONE is they waste everyone’s time, including their own. There are times I am just not your customer, not even for your messages. Not interested, not applicable, and not appreciative of your efforts to try and force me to be what I am not.

Want me to listen, be your customer, or introduce you to someone? Be of real applicable value to me or someone I know. Approach me from my perspective, approach my friends and clients from their perspective. You’ll save us all, including yourself, from a lot of wasted effort, time, and frustration. And along the way, you’ll gain more credibility too.


Glenn S. PhillipsGlenn S. Phillips is the author of the book Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself.  You can email Glenn directly at glennsphillips@nerdtoenglish.com.

Glenn is also the president of Forte’ Incorporated, a consulting firm that works with business leaders to understand and address the often hidden technology and business risks lurking within their organizations.

© Copyright 2012. Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.