Beware The Enthusiast!

We’ve all experienced it – a conversation with someone about an idea or product or service and they practically gush with enthusiasm. They ask great questions, add valuable information, want to participate. They lift our spirits and increase our optimism.

But there’s a dark side. I encountered it this past week while working for a client.

I reached this enthusiast (someone I’d never spoken to before) on my first call and provided a very brief project description. She was immediately interested. Her language included phrases like “this is perfect timing” and “I think this is how we can participate” and “we can definitely meet that deadline”.

Of course, I hung up the phone and felt great. With 27 years of phone sales experience I know not to  “count my chickens”, but this sounded so positive. I confidently added her to my “hot list”.

Then the follow up happened. When she answered the phone and heard my voice, she became instantly impatient and cool. While this doesn’t phase me, I am attentive to it, try to identify the cause. But I didn’t hear any background noise and her initial “hello” had not been distracted or panicked. So, while I did quicken the pace of my voice, I remained calm and cheerful.

She shut me down. “I’m in a meeting,” she said. “I’ll call you back”. And then she was gone … and I mean gone. I’m pretty confident that there was no meeting and I’m even more sure she’s never going to call me back.


When we are new to sales, this experience can have a negative impact. We can begin to doubt ourselves, take it personally. But, as I constantly say … it’s not about you! 

The enthusiast is exactly that … someone with a quick mind and a high level of creativity who can instantly see the value of what you are offering. They delve into it with you fully, freely express their interest and excitement. And in that moment their enthusiasm is real and true.

In other words, there’s no reason for you to doubt yourself because the enthusiast’s initial reaction is an honest reaction.

But when they hang up, or walk away from the meeting, things happen. Perhaps they talk to others who don’t support the idea. Or they review a limited budget. Or they never had the authority to say “yes” in the first place. And this makes them very uncomfortable because enthusiasts are not good at saying “no”.

Let me repeat that – enthusiasts are not good at saying “no”.

Instead, they will avoid your calls or, as in my example, rush you off the phone, or send you the “thanks but no thanks” email.

And that’s the best they can do. It isn’t about you; it’s about them.

So what can you do when you encounter an enthusiast? The best thing is to extend that first conversation, ask a few more questions.  Find out if they can make the decision on their own and what their process is for making that decision. Be clear about when and how you will follow up, book an exact day and time if possible.

And … I know this sounds weird for a salesperson … support their ability to say “no”. For example, you can end the call with “No matter what your decision, I’ve really enjoyed our conversation today and look forward to speaking with you next week.”

Giving them permission to say no, can (not always) eliminate the harsh follow up or weeks of disregarded messages.

What are your thoughts? Have you encountered an enthusiast? How did you react?

And perhaps you are an enthusiast? Come back next week to find out!

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