“Tear up His Business Card!”

Do you have customers or prospects who are wasting your time? You don’t have to keep them.

Photo by Brian Jackson/dpc

Photo by Brian Jackson/dpc

A Liberating Exercise From My Sales Coach

About 10 years ago, when I had hit a rough patch as a radio account executive, I hired a sales and time management coach – Jeffrey Mayer, who has since passed away. Mayer was in Chicago,  I was in Portland, and we spoke by phone once a week.

I called him one day after a particularly frustrating sales call. I had met with a podiatrist – a guy who had advertised on a competing radio station. I had been chasing him for about six months, presented three proposals, and made exactly no money. The client continued to hint that he might buy, but always had another reason why now was not the right time.

As I was pouring out my tale of woe, Mayer cut me off midsentence.

Him: Are you at your desk?

Me: Yes.

Him: Do you have his business card?

Me: Yes.

Him: Pull out his business card, and put me on speaker phone.”

I did as he instructed. “Now what?” I asked?

“Hold his business card over the speaker, and tear it up. Don’t you just throw it in the trash – if you do that, you can take it out later. I want you to tear that card into little tiny pieces and then throw them away.”

“But I promised to rewrite his proposal!” I argued.

“Screw that proposal!” said Mayer. “If you really wants to see it, he will call you. I’m betting you will never hear from him again.”

I tore the card up, and threw the pieces away. Mayer and I talked for another 20 minutes, and then I went back to work. I never called the podiatrist again, and he never called me.

Tearing that business card was a surprisingly liberating experience. All of a sudden, I was free from having to waste my time on a lousy prospect. I made a very good living in radio sales for the next four years, and I’m sure the podiatrist did fine, too.

How You Can Apply Jeffrey Mayer’s Sales Lesson Today

  1. You have at least one low-dollar, high-maintenance customer – probably more than one.
  2. Choose one prospect or client who is wasting your time. Tear up his or her business card, and take a smart phone picture of the little tiny pieces.
  3. Email me the picture. If I get enough photos, I might display them in a subsequent blog post.

Question: Have you gotten rid of a waste-of-time client? How did you do it? And how did it make you feel? You can leave a comment by clicking here.



Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you the first two chapters of my new book, Breakthrough Prospecting, as a thank-you.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Your Chance to Be Heard -- Comment Here!

4 thoughts on ““Tear up His Business Card!”

  1. Great advice. It’s hard to do, but, once you do it voluntarily, or, are moved to do it by emotional outrage, the lesson you learn is how important and valuable your time is. I had completed exhaustive research on demographics, competitive reconnaissance and several proposals and was presenting my final low ball offer.
    It was almost a game to see if he even valued the offer that met his request and needs.
    By his second objection, I reached over the desk, took back his copy of the proposal, gathered my things and politely ended the meeting by saying “when you’re ready please call me”. On the drive home I felt an amazing amount of pressure was lifted, knowing I and my company had done all we could. I’d like to think the time that was freed up, and the motivation to “crush him”, somewhat just kidding, allowed me to prospect competitors that would become my clients. I used the same research materials and bumped the proposal to something respectable and never looked back.