It was late, I was tired from a long day at work, so the knock on the door was not well-received by me.
The kid was about 14 with that earnest look in his eyes and so when he said "Would you help me win a trip to go see the nation's capitol?" I decided to give him a break. "What are you selling?" I asked. "Sir! The last thing I'd do is try and sell you something." he said and gave me a look that said shame on you for asking me that.
OK, segue into the living room 20 minutes later and following an impassioned discussion on the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and how his dream was to stand in front of the White House and.... I stopped him with, "What can I do to help you?" He quickly and efficiently produced a magazine order form and asked me which three magazines I'd like to order. "I thought you said you wouldn't try to sell me anything!" I said.
"No, sir. What I said was 'THE LAST THING I'D DO IS TRY TO SELL YOU SOMETHING.'"
I bought two magazines and sent him home.
That was 25 years ago and I'm pretty sure he did go to Washington. In fact, I'm pretty sure he's there right now, occupying a seat in Congress, using his sales skills to sell us a new bail out program.
While I can't say I approve of his manipulative style, I can say it was amusing and fairly effective and was followed by a pretty good value proposition. I did enjoy the magazines. The reason I didn't just drag him to the door by his earnest little ear was I had invited him into my home, he didn't break in, and deep down I knew there was a sale waiting to happen somewhere, how else was he going to Washington? A donation by me?
The lesson I learned was this. When someone enters your professional realm, whether it's home, office, website etc., there is a reasonable expectation they're there to do business. Use all of your professional counseling, negotiating and business skills to make a sale. Don't apologize for being a salesperson or for expecting the client to respect your time and commitment to them. You have real value, sell it!
Keep 'er steady.