List Of Advertisers Best Turn-Down Lines To Advertising Salespeople

This is a photo of Rosalie Jones, auto salesman, from 1920. This had nothing to do with my story about advertisers' turn-down lines to ad salespeople. I just wanted to honor Rosalie for her work in sales.
This is a photo of Rosalie Jones, auto salesman, from 1920. This had nothing to do with my story about advertisers' turn-down lines to ad salespeople. I just wanted to honor Rosalie for her work in sales.
An advertising salesperson, just like any salesperson, has to establish that one-on-one relationship with his or her clients. And one does that by talking to them.
An advertising salesperson, just like any salesperson, has to establish that one-on-one relationship with his or her clients. And one does that by talking to them.
It feels great to close a big sale to an important client. Ask any advertising sales rep and they will tell you that the adrenaline rush is not to be compared to anything of this world.
It feels great to close a big sale to an important client. Ask any advertising sales rep and they will tell you that the adrenaline rush is not to be compared to anything of this world.
Yes, it is a sad fact of the sales game that when enough rejections pile up, a salesperson can feel depressed, sad, irritable and not wanting to leave their home.
Yes, it is a sad fact of the sales game that when enough rejections pile up, a salesperson can feel depressed, sad, irritable and not wanting to leave their home.
An advertising salesperson can travel a long road of cold-calling, cell phone calling and networking before they make that one big sale.
An advertising salesperson can travel a long road of cold-calling, cell phone calling and networking before they make that one big sale.
See how this advertising salesman is smiling? You had better use a genuine smile, for most retail clients can see through the finest acts and turn you down everytime.
See how this advertising salesman is smiling? You had better use a genuine smile, for most retail clients can see through the finest acts and turn you down everytime.
This shouldn't be where most rejected salesmen visit to relieve the stress of selling advertising to clients who listen to them, and laugh as they turn them down.
This shouldn't be where most rejected salesmen visit to relieve the stress of selling advertising to clients who listen to them, and laugh as they turn them down.
A salesman, be it advertising or insurance, if he travels the road, sometimes uses a rental car and carries his laptop, ipad and tablet for coordinating his sales calls and meetings.
A salesman, be it advertising or insurance, if he travels the road, sometimes uses a rental car and carries his laptop, ipad and tablet for coordinating his sales calls and meetings.

Telling It Like It Is--An Advertising Salesperson's Life Is Sometimes Miserable

You have the salesmen. A salesman. And if you are a woman, a salesperson. I like that last one better. Sales persons have a tough job--selling things to potential clients in and out of the city to help them have a more-successful business. If you have never attempted to work as an advertising salesperson, I urge you to DON'T DO IT, unless you love to be rejected, lied to, be given run-around's, and frankly, detested by some clients who actually need advertising to increase the traffic in their businesses.

What Makes A Good Salesperson . . .

  • Patience - if you are not patient, then your chances of succeeding are minimal.
  • Friendly - this is a great asset if you are going to make it as an advertising salesperson.
  • Good Memory - is helpful, but not expected. You can use notes to help you remember the client's names, their favorite football team and children's birthdays.
  • Endurance - you will endure many turn-downs on your way to being a "top dog" in the sales department.
  • Stamina - will benefit you greatly. Advertising sales is not for the ones who are tired and just lag behind. The sales go to the strong, outgoing salespersons with large amounts of stamina.

What Makes An Unsuccessful Salesperson . . .

  • Rough - appearance. This tells the potential, high-end client, that you do not care about how you look, so how are you to care about the client's advertising campaigns?
  • Selective Hearing - is a negative in the ad sales game. If you do not hear every word and thought the client expresses, then you will be lost when it comes to closing the sale.
  • Overbearing - attitudes, well, they do not belong to an ad salesperson.
  • Short Temper - in an ad salesperson means one thing: FAILURE. Maybe a nasty letter from the client who you told off because he didn't spend a lot of money for ads you were selling.
  • Bashful - no explanation needed. If one is bashful, he or she needs to work at Disneyland in Orlando as a dwarf during the summer vacation season.

Sales persons far and near, are known to sell things from life insurance, cars, Bibles, land, vacation get-aways, investment plans, and I suppose the most difficult item to sell, besides life insurance, is ADVERTISING. Radio advertising to be exact. This is a very personal story for me, for I know a good friend who, for years, worked both--on-air at a local radio station and when he was off the air, he sold ads or "spots," for the radio station in the afternoons. He stayed sad and depressed most of the time. He seldom had a smile on his face.

By way of explanation, there is a big difference in newspaper advertising, a job that I had in 1975, and selling radio spots. A newspaper has those big, full-page ads in color that promote everything from new cars to used cars, furniture to clothing. Newspaper ads are sold by the column inch. And the bigger the market and circulation of the newspaper, the more-expensive the ad becomes. Newspaper ads are called display ads. A newspaper also has ads called 'classified ads,' that are for individuals who are renting their homes, selling a car, or looking for a house-broken dog. These are not as expensive as display ads.

A radio station, depending on the market they are located, has 'spots,' segments of air, that are sold by the minute. A local FM station near by hometown sells spots for $5.00 per 30-seconds. That can ad up after a while, but if the ad representative or salesperson is on top of his game, and sells himself to the client before he sells his product, the spots, he might be on his or her way to a successful career in radio advertising sales. Some radio advertising is sold in packages. To explain. Let's say you are a car dealer who wants spots located at just the right time--drive-time from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. for the office workers, or during football season, another highly-popular time for advertisers to buy packages. You tell your radio ad sales rep to put your spots into a 'drive-time package,' which your spots will be strategically-placed at any given time between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. And your package would cost $300.00 a month, not a spot, so you are actually saving money by purchasing ad packages instead of a few spots. Fact: some of the bigger radio stations located in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Birmingham, Alabama, that is near to my hometown can sell a single 30-second spot for as much as $1200.00 and that is a bargain for the coverage these giants of the radio industry provide.

During my limited time in radio ad sales from 2000 until 2002, my friend, Kenneth "Dr. J" Jackson, (a real guy), would meet for coffee during our down-times, which was a lot of the times when ad sales were not going well, and talk over several cups of coffee at our local Burger King. Jackson and I have been great friends before I tried and failed at radio ad sales, and after we both left that 'jungle' behind a few years ago. Kenneth Jackson the perfect radio ad salesperson. He is patient, soft-spoken, a great listener, easy to get along with, and not overbearing or bashful. "I just got tired of being turned down," Jackson said to me after he resigned at the radio station where we both worked. And I understood what me meant. Fully.

To cheer each other up, we would sit, sip coffee, and compare the various lines that our advertisers would use to turn us down when we would call on them for radio advertising. Some lines are sensible, while others are bizarre. And then there are some lines that defy a NASA engineer's sophisticated thought processes. I am totally serious.

Here are a few samples of

Advertisers' Best Turn-Down Lines For Radio Salespeople . . .

  1. Let me take a look at it and we will get back to you. Not a chance, Jack! This, we found out, is a cover-all line shared by advertisers who will not 'take a look at it,' your proposal, although so cheap you will not make any commission, and just conveniently not call you back.

  2. Sounds good. Holler back at me and you do. Holler back at the would-be, high-dollar advertiser only to find out that he has left for a two-week vacation in Bermuda. And this is strange. He has just opened his car lot. But what hurts the worst is that you hear his spots on another radio station while he is gone. Wouldn't it be the honorable thing to do, and I mean the "skip town" advertiser who led you on to just call you and say, "not interested"?

  3. We gonna 'lay in the weeds' this line still boggles my mind. Only snakes lie in the weeds. Vipers to be exact. I had a car dealer tell me this with a straight face. My sales manager said to not waste my time on people like this, so I didn't. Hope that he didn't get in a bed of fire ants. As comic, Jerry Seinfield says, "that's a shame."

  4. Gimme your number and I'll call you back tomorrow if you bite on this, you are not a sharp radio ad salesperson, you are a large mouth bass about to be hauled in by fishing champion, Bill Dance. A few truthful advertisers, I say a few now, will call you back, but not many. Just call them back when they 'forget' to call you like they say, and casually fade out of their business. The forgetful advertiser will not miss you.

  5. Your spots are just way high this line coming from a furniture dealer who sells junk furniture. And you show this person that your ad package is almost free. Some advertisers, let's be real honest, are just cheap. No way you can change them, so create a new list of clients right away.

  6. My wife doesn't like your music and you are basing your decision on whether or not to run your ads with my station by a woman who hasn't seen daylight in years for she stays shut up in your home watching Real Housewives of New Jersey, smoking Newport cigarettes and maxing-out your Visa card. Yeah. This makes sense. Oh, we could spend $200,000.00 a change our format that has worked for years--just for you and your wife and that $100.00 package you aren't buying. Yeah. Good luck staying in business. Do you also ask your hermit wife for permission to watch Monday Night Football too?

  7. My stomach hurts when I hear the cost of your package this turn-down line is in the same category as "we gonna lay in the weeds," turn-down line. This was actually said to me by a plumber who had a lucrative plumbing business and said he was a Vietnam vet. I applauded that very much. He told me point-blank that each time his stomach hurt, meant for him to not do so and so. And I had worked it out with our program director to place his spots near the hottest broadcast of the morning: the obituaries. Small town radio stations where I live broadcast obituaries for the benefit of their elderly listeners. Still, I wouldn't want to have to fork out a few bucks for Pepto Bismol to help a man's stomach when it hurt.

  8. Gotta take this call clever. A mastermind of turn-down lines thought of this years ago. You are sitting in the office of a real estate broker. He is almost sold on your economical package when the phone rings. He tells you with a beaming smile, "gotta take this," and he yaks and yaks for thirty minutes---laughing, slapping his knee at something funny the person on the phone has said. Now for the ultimate insult. He swings his high-back leather chair around so he doesn't face you as you are forced to wait. And wait. While he continues yakking. But you notice as you look through the glass front of his office that his secretary is having an equally-good time on the phone. Could it be? A clever way for him to hit on his secretary while insulting you? Think about it.

  9. He's gone to Florida on business his obedient secretary, "Barb," tells you when you arrive at the time that the advertiser said to be at his office. He set the appointment. Not you. So you hide your disgust. Smile and sheepishly say, "that's fine. I will call later," and you are about to leave, but you see him, the advertiser, sitting with his salespeople in a side office leaning back with his shoes on the table eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts like they will not make any more doughnuts ever. He accidentally sees you, and swiftly looks away. This is a great indication that you are not getting his business. Oh you have been 'given the business,' but not one that pays for your gas to get to his office.

  10. I can't see what you are selling this is a cute line. Who can see air? And the radio spot as it is being broadcast? Does he not know that you are from a RADIO STATION, not a NEWSPAPER? Or does he even care to know the difference?

  11. Buddy, can you 'get with me' Friday evening? when you hear 'buddy,' from someone who doesn't even know you, then it's a safe bet you are not going to sell this man any radio time. But, being true to your loyal nature, you show up on the Friday evening that he is talking about and when he sees you, he says, Now what was your name again? After you spent three hours talking to him watching him write your company name down, your name down on his desk pad, and now he has memory problems? Just graciously shake his hand and say something nice to him and leave. Do not waste your time, for it is valuable. More valuable than his.

Words and Phrases to Listen For while talking to an advertiser that will let you know that he is not going to do business with you . . .


  1. The advertiser says, "huh?" a lot mostly in mid-sales pitch. This tells you he isn't interested. Or listening.
  2. The advertiser says, "cost?" that can only mean that he doesn't want to or will not pay his bill "if" he runs your cheapest package.
  3. The advertiser says, "you like jam or jelly?" his mind is not focused on your product. Say jam and close out this sales call.
  4. The advertiser says, "hmmm," a lot while he is 'acting' like he is reading over your radio station brochure. This is his unconscious way of turning you down ahead of time.
  5. The advertiser says, "gotta think about it some more," and he has already 'thought about it' for six months. Does he really expect you to suddenly have an Ad Give Away just for him?

Before I close, just let me extend to you, the salespeople of America, my fondest salute for the thankless job that you do to keep our great country running. I mean that.

And a final piece of free sales advice: Take your time before you start your sales calls. Do some background research on your potential client, legally of course, by talking to other advertising salespeople who might have called on this potential client and see how they fared with them?

And call first to make an appointment. Gasoline is expensive. Too expensive to waste driving from town to town making unannounced ad calls. Do yourself and your radio station (or whatever business you work for) a huge favor. Make sure that the client will be in their office when you arrive.

Nothing, and I do mean, nothing is more frustrating than having to sell ads to an empty chair.


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Comments 13 comments

Casey Strouse profile image

Casey Strouse 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Awesome list. I use turn-down lines all the time. My favorite is "She moved to the UK a few months ago, here's her number," and then give some random UK number I get on Google Places.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Casey, THANKS FOR THE COMMENT. I take it that this comment isn't about advertising. But I admire your taste in getting rid of people that may annoy you. Hope that I am not one of them. Have a peaceful day.


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

Hi Kenneth,

I have two favorites. Both my husband & I "blame" whatever it is we want to get out of on the one who isn't there. Very effective for married and couples together a long time. If it's on the phone, I try to sound rushed, say "I was just on my way out" and hang up fast. This works for friends that have been telling you their same problems for years and won't take any steps to solve them. I can relate though, I worked in real estate for two years, and just wasn't cut out for so much rejection, or getting hopes up for nothing. Nice hub!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Jean! Super idea! I may, I say, use this when the opportunity comes up. Or you can use tinfoil and crumple it up while you are on the phone and the annoying person will ask is your phone doing that, and you of course, truthfully say No, is it yours? That works too, but I do not endorse things that would lead you to believe that I am a mean-spirited person. Thanks again for the SUPER-NICE comment. And if I had a $1 for every turn-down on ad calls, I would be writing you from my bungalo in Destin, Fla.


livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco

Kenneth - This is chock-full of really, really useful advice to a salesperson (or a would-be one). I like your list of what "code" words really mean. And I agree with you that being a salesperson is really tough; you deal with a ton of rejection.


Sueswan 5 years ago

Hi Kenneth,

I hope all is well with you.

Thank you for presenting the salesperson's side of the story.

Personally, not a job I could do or would be any good at.

When I get a call from a telephone solicitor. I just say in a polite but firm voice that I am not interested and hang up.

Voted up and awesome.


blaise25 profile image

blaise25 5 years ago from close to you...

Excellent hub Kenneth. Google really needs this hub so much ;)


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, livelonger . . ."THANK YOU, for the warm comment. I appreciate that very much! I have sold ads both TV, Radio and Newspaper...and none are EASY! Thanks again and let me hear from you. Peace!"


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello, blaise25, maybe they will pick up on this. Not because I wrote it, but this is good, practical advice for anyone tempted, I mean, wanting to be in sales. Thanks so much!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Sueswan, Hi! And YOU are welcome for this hub and I appreciate YOUR comments so much. How come I am not surprised at YOU being polite-even to a telemarketer! That is you to a "t," polite, warm and understanding. I know. Your comments have kept me going. Thank YOU!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Great article, Kenneth! You obviously know whereof you write! Interesting fields, newspaper and radio advertising sales.

Having been in sales as a Bridal Consultant (high-end fashion which more or less sells itself to anyone brave enough to enter the shop) - but then as an Independent Mary Kay Consultant and then as an Independent Mary Kay Sales Director, I can truly empathize with all salespersons. It's very challenging work, and being a sales director is even more so, having to motivate others to meet their challenges and make the go of it. If it's one's own challenge, one can motivate oneself to arise to meet it. But if it is others' - one must SELL them on selling. That is a real challenge.

Believe me, I know more motivational slogans and methods than you can imagine. And I was doing extremely well at it till I realized some truths about selling in general - and about selling others to be sales persons in particular. It is a matter of STATISTICS. There is NO way of getting around that. If one is really good at it, about one out of 5 'Yeses" to anything at any level is a good showing of success for those who may consider it and give a 'yes' - to that much. Otherwise it's a series of rejections to get to that one 'yes'. Most people are not too well attuned to rejection. And in most sales situations, that first "OK" brings no more than a chance to get one's little toe in the door. Then more rejections to get to the next level and hopefully - another "OK". In Mary Kay, there were quite a few steps to get someone to try that product - then to buy it - to reorder it - and hopefully - to want to sell it herself.

If one isn't' very good, the stats are more like 1 in 10 'OKs" per level. Then there will always be the next 5 or 10 of THOSE to be moved to a next level @ one out of 5 or 10 - and so on, to whatever the ultimate goal is. In other words, only by talking to hundreds or thousands of people can one reach the ultimate goal, no matter how good a salesperson one is, with all those sterling characteristics you list! The effort involves is staggering. And if one must be pleasant, dynamic, look like one just stepped out of a salon at all times from daylight to dawn - it is quite challenging.

I didn't mind grinding the numbers for my own personal goals. But in the business of Mary Kay - that is NOT the ultimate goal. One must convince many, many others whom one must individually recruit and train to do it. And only one out of 5 or 10 of them will take the many steps to even come aboard. And much attrition down the line. Meantime, I'd have convinced doubting husbands that "she" could make it - if not to the top, at least to justify the cost of her inventory and wardrobe to look successful before she was successful. It was something I could do so long as I really believed 'she' could and probably would.

I knew how to do it. I had seen it done and I was very convincing and determined. What finally got to me was that I really didn't want to do that to women and their families. When I explained it to a recruit prospect, that was what she replied. "I don't want to do that to women." It swept over me - neither did I.

Sure - IF she did all the tough stuff, she MIGHT make it. But, knowing my own determination, abilities, and the freedom to go for it , even with my minor level of success, - I doubted that many of the hundreds would do it even that far. Many more would fall in the cracks, lose their investments, maybe their husbands, their kids with sitters and their houses going to pot - while they'd have to be out there trying to convince others to do it, too! So I resigned just as I was really getting the most winning momentum myself.

That got me declared a "loser" by my former compatriots. No one can just choose to leave for higher reasons or for any others and maintain the wonderful friendships one has built doing it. Quitting it means you're a loser and the group doesn't want to be associated with losers! It's bad vibes on their own determination, of course.

Well - so be it. I left. And happy I did. I knew my reason was the real ME. And before too long George and I married. In a few more years - with his help - I gained control of my ranch. I began again to write and to BE myself.

I wouldn't trade one moment of the 5 years I gave it, though. It literally transformed me from the most shy gal you can't imagine into a confident and secure person. So I'm glad I did it. And more glad I left it behind. I would neither encourage or discourage others from trying it.

In life we 'sell' all the time. If we are teachers, we sell students on learning. If we are parents, we sell our kids on wearing their jackets when it starts getting colder. If we are married, we sell our mates on wanting to take out the trash or letting us take it out, whichever fits the situation. etc. etc. Many of the same principles apply - and possibly, even those relentless statistics! :-) It is a great advantage to understand the principles of sales, if only to resist the sales pressure one receives oneself! haha


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Nellieanna, "THANK YOU, for this very thoughful comment. Very interesting what you have accomplished in your life and I MUST DISAGREE, you are NOT a 'loser,' to me. Your compatriots were probably insecure at your success. And my definition of a loser is someone who never tries. Just sits and looks on. Yes, trying sometimes means failing, but it is a great feeling inside to know that you at least tried to do something. Thanks, Nellie for this and all comments. YOU are appreciated by this and all hubbers who know you.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Thank you, Kenneth. Actually I knew I was no loser. What that proved to me at the time was how shallow the camaraderie really had been all along. It showed that the fear that someone would step out of the locked-step and THINK for herself or decide what was best for her was so fearful, they felt they had to close ranks and declare it a "foul" for me - or anyone who would make such a decision.-But that was the opposite of what it was. I made the right decision for me.

And I really can't imagine feeling anything but happy and good for another person who is doing what he or she needs to do for himself or herself and their values. One's own decisions shouldn't rely on being in a majority or lock-step with a bunch of others who dare not step out of it. I thought their reaction was pitiful and it just made me more sure that I'd made the right decision.

So there was no failure involved. In fact, I left while I was winning - at that game. I just decided there was a flaw in the game I couldn't accept for myself.

But you are so right. Many things we try to do, we may not accomplish - but that doesn't mean we are failures, either. We learn which things suit us by trying many things. Of course, not all of them will fit and provide what we are needing and we may not be suited for them either. It's called life. :-)

Thank you for your dear comments and encouragement. You're one of the nicest people I know! Hugs.

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