I’m a First Responder to a No Soliciting sign

Last week I made a visit to my neighborhood mobile phone carrier’s retail store and noticed a ‘No Solicitors’ sign in the window.  This gave me pause before entering.  I thought – “I’m a Solicitor, what’s wrong with me.  Why don’t they want me to come in?”

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I peered through the glass like a school boy at a peep show, wondering what is going on inside that I was forbidden to see.  Others inside the store began to look at me and I finally mustered up the guts to pull the door open and walk in.

I stopped as everyone looked at me and said, “I saw the No Solicitors sign.  I’m a salesman.  I sell for a living.  What do you folks do behind the counter?  Are you salespeople?  Can I come in?” 

I was greeted and welcomed to come in.  I started the conversation with the retail store associate (not a salesperson, per their business card), by asking if the door they come in has that ‘No Solicitors’ sign displayed?  They said “yes, same door.”  I asked, “Are you supposed to be selling anything?”  They repeated “yes.”  “Have you ever been written up by HR for violating the sign?” I asked.  They quickly regretted inviting me in.

You may say, “Oh, Scott, you know what that sign means.  They don’t want people coming into the store trying to sell them anything like advertising in a local newspaper, or a girl scout with her father selling cookies or boy scout with his mother selling wreaths.”  Really?  They don’t want to have a conversation with an on-the-go, busy salesperson that needs their service – more than any other career.  They don’t want to talk with a parent that lives in the area that will shortly need a family plan to meet their family’s mobile needs.

Instead they want to prevent the conversation from starting by throwing a shaming and humiliating punch at a career salesperson.  Those are my people!  And I will fight for their honor.

I noticed there was no sign banning guns on the premises.  They will tolerant you bringing in your handgun, but you cannot be admitted if you are a salesperson.  In a time of promoting social tolerance, a career in sales is unwelcome.  The reality is nothing ever happens until a salesperson sells something.

Years ago a local printer called and invited me to meet to discuss working with their sales team to improve sales revenue.  When I arrived, I walked pass the ‘No Soliciting’ sign displayed on the door.

When I mentioned my concern about the impact that sign has on salespeople, they took it down and sales began to increase.  The company culture needs to change in order for the behaviors to change.  Sales focused companies should embrace the persistence of a salesperson and work to recruit more of them.  And yes, they also hired me.

Sometimes I walk into a business that has the ‘No Soliciting’ sign posted with a hurried demeanor I say, “I came as soon as I saw the sign.  Nobody is selling anything.  Who should I talk to?  Is the president of the company available?  Pardon me, while I call this into to dispatch.  Code 4, on location at XYZ company. No need for backup at this point.”

My next move is to go door-to-door selling ‘No Soliciting’ signs and if they don’t buy one, come back the next day and say, “If you had a sign, I wouldn’t be bothering you.”  Just kidding.  I would never do that.

Sales needs to be adopted, adapted and embraced across the corporate culture AND in our personal lives, as we work to communicate, persuade and convince others to grow and change – no matter our role.  Sales is not limited to just the sales department, just like Customer Service is not limited to just their department.

Remember our beliefs determine our behavior, and our behavior, through action, gives us the results we want.  The belief is “to sell is to serve,” and to serve means we work with others to experience a better life.

(Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting or even implying you not shop at a store that has the No Soliciting or No Solicitors sign displayed.  Please patronize them.  You also have the chance to start a conversation with someone you are trying to sell.)




  1. Good one Scott!
    Made me laugh.

  2. Scott, this is excellent! After all your emails and seeing you at Chamber events, this article convinced me to give you a call. I’ll be in touch…nice job!

  3. Totally Agreed.

    Some business said “No solicitors” and it makes me wonder how they market, sale, and advertise to other people.

  4. Great perspective!

  5. Excellent point. Sales people are consumers, too.

  6. Love it! You’re a funny guy.

  7. I have observed this same conundrum in companies I have worked with. Every salesperson is likened to a used car schlock, except our guy of course. I commented earlier that ham handed sales people and less than satisfactory product or service has given business owners and managers a headache and a foul attitude towards sales people. This is just an outgrowth of frustration. I suspect that if we sales people adopted a better attitude, a better approach and a respect for the people we are selling to, things might get better over time. Gimmicks are not a long term solution, respect, persistence and courtesy are. Let’s be professionals and may be we can garner some more respect ourselves.

  8. So, first, the reason those signs don’t prevent the employees from selling things on the premises is that soliciting and selling are not synonyms. If I want a cell phone and go into a cell phone shop they don’t need to solicit me, I’m already there. If, on the other hand, I have a phone and go door to door asking (asking and soliciting are synonyms) people if they want to buy it or accost passers by on the street, then I am a solicitor.

    Second, and most important, this sign is basically a typo. It should read “no soliciting.” The store is obviously happy to have a solicitor there as a customer who wants to buy something. If the sign said “no shirt, no shoes, no service” they would still welcome clothed strippers. What they don’t want is other businesses using the premises they paid for to hawk their crap.

  9. Brilliant!

  10. I came across this article while trying to find a good sign to keep people like you from wasting my time at work. I get hostile with people that ignore the no solicitation sign and continue knocking on the locked door that we keep locked for a reason. I don’t need anything from you. We have a cleaner, we have ink, we have a phone system, and we have office equipment. We haven’t been in business for over 50 years because we meet with people like you; it is because we don’t waste time with people like you and seek out our own resources and what fits us best. You intimidate my office girls by being too loud and familiar, you waste my time and lose our money, and the value of whatever you are peddling does not come close to the value of my employees’ productive time growing my business. If you didn’t think you were entitled to someone’s time the way you do, and left the smart ass technicalities at home (“are you not salespeople?”), people would be less hostile towards you.

    • This is the position prospects have before talking with a professional salesperson. This position is also why I keep stressing we don’t sound like a salesperson when we call. You are not this “time-sucker” salesperson. You are a professional salesperson that understands the challenges of our prospect. They have cancer and you have the cure.

      However, you will never have an opportunity of a conversation unless you approach the call as someone they “get to” talk with – someone that WANT to talk with. You must sound different when you call.
      Your initial calls must cause the prospect to be “interested and curious” in learning more.
      Please let me know if you want to talk more about how do you sound different on the phone.


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