CFI Blog

Why I Won’t Hound You if You’re a Client

“If you take responsibility for yourself you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams.”
–Les Brown

When I founded my last company, my phone rang constantly. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always the ringing of customers who were dying to hire us and let us make their internal site search come as close as possible to divining the intent of their customers without the use of telepathy. Much more common were the phone calls of salespeople who were endlessly trying to get me to test out, try, or, worse yet, buy some of their products. About 98% of those callers immediately went into my Blocked contact on my phone, which has, literally, thousands of phone numbers on it and were reported to the FTC for violating the Do Not Call list, and, if I was in a particularly ornery mood, were reported to the BBB and to their state attorney general for good measure. For the 2% though, there was a possibility, no matter how remote, that we might one day want to use some of their services.

In those cases, I’d inform them that our company wasn’t ready to use the given service, but we were growing, and at some point, we might be interested. When we reached that point, I’d call them, but in the meantime, please don’t call me.

90% of those people were experts at selective listening. They heard the first part, conveniently “didn’t hear” the second part, and put me on their “tickle list” to call back three months later.

When they called me back, I asked them what part of “in the meantime, please do not call me” they did not understand, and they got the same treatment as the original 98% – addition to the Blocked contact (which never rings), etc.

I absolutely, positively abhor being hounded by salespeople.

That abhorrence carries over into how I operate nowadays. I’ve never done outbound calling, either at my last company or now. I figure (no matter how naïvely) that people who arrive here were looking for something.

Why I Won’t Go Over to Your Side and Retrieve the Ball

Why I Won’t Go Over to Your Side and Retrieve the Ball

As we’ve previously examined in “Monkey Brain Gets Hit by a Plague of Locus(ts),” our limbic systems – what I call Monkey Brain, since it’s the part of the brain that we share with our simian counterparts and that tells us to run away from woolly mammoths – like to inform us of who’s responsible for outcomes in our lives. If something good happens, then we’re responsible. If something bad happens, then it was the fault of anything and anyone but us. This is called the locus of control. When the locus of control is internal, then you believe that you’re responsible for the outcome that happened. When the locus of control is external, then you believe that something or someone else is responsible for the outcome that happened.

The key to being successful in life is to shift the locus of control to an internal one as much as possible. I try to live my life with an internal locus of control.

Because of my belief in the internal locus of control, I’m going to provide action steps, make suggestions, and ask you to get back with me when you’ve completed those things. I’ll confirm you received it, and then leave you to take those steps at your own pace. Unless you’re running up against a deadline that could cost you a lot of money (for example, a Roth IRA conversion or filing for Medicare), that’s the last you’ll hear from me until you’re ready.

I do this because I believe you want to be responsible for your financial future. It’s why you were looking in the first place and how the Fates conspired for us to be together. If I’m consistently holding your hand, then you get used to having me hold your hand/hound you/whatever, and, thus, your source of motivation won’t come from internal desires. I want to teach you how and why we come to the conclusions that we do during our time together so that, in the future, you don’t have to call me up and get further guidance, unless, of course, your circumstances have significantly changed (“Bill Gates left everything to moi?!?”). For us to get there, I’ll leave you with a lot of breadcrumbs, but I won’t walk the path for you.

If you want that level of hand-holding or you want someone to do it for you, I’m not the right person. You should go to a flat fee financial planner instead.

However, if you want to be responsible for the money outcomes in your life, controlling what you can and protecting yourself against what you can’t, then I’m thrilled to help if you think I can.

Just don’t expect many follow-up e-mails asking you if you’ve done things.

I personally hate being hounded, so I won’t hound you.

Too laissez faire, or just the right touch? What do you think? Tell me if you think I should change my style or not in the comments below!

Author Profile

John Davis
John Davis is a nationally recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, and identity theft. He has written four books about his expertise in the field and has been featured extensively in numerous media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS News, CNBC, Fox Business, and many more. With over 20 years of experience helping consumers understand their credit and identity protection rights, John is passionate about empowering people to take control of their finances. He works with financial institutions to develop consumer-friendly policies that promote financial literacy and responsible borrowing habits.

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