“We Just Can’t Afford It.”

As a lifelong salesperson, I have heard this line more times than I could ever accurately count. In fact, if I truly analyzed the numbers, I have heard it way more often than not.  

Side Note: For those of you young, non-Gen Xers out there, I highly recommend watching the movie “Glengarry, Glen Ross” if you need extra motivation to become a strong closer.

We recently shared the following iconic clip from it at our sales retreat, and I reference it often because I’m old. Just take my word for it, It’s fantastic. “Coffee is for Closers!” Thank me later…

We have all also heard the motivational sports analogies to explain it. You know the ones… 

“Even the elite All Stars in the MLB are only successful 3 out of 10 times at the plate! So get out there and keep swinging!” (Ted Williams being the notable exception. He hit .406 in 1941.)

AI generated MLB batter

You get the point. As salespeople we hear “no” a lot, and it’s usually because of the size of the monetary investment required for a prospect to engage.

Most of us have become immune to rejection, and our hearts harden enough over the years that we rarely allow rejection in business to affect our personal lives. (Rejection in our personal lives still stinks, and I rarely handle it well if I’m assessing myself honestly!)

I say all of this to say that even an “old dog” like me, equipped with all of the same old rebuttals to combat this buying objection, can still be surprised when we hear it, and that happened to me recently…

AI generated old dog in a sweater and glasses

I sat down with a prospect earlier this week, and I could tell by the seemingly somber look on their collective faces that this was most likely news I didn’t want to hear…

“John, we truly appreciate your kindness and patience with us through this process, we have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you over the past couple of weeks, and you have represented your company admirably…”

(They were really good at the rejection thing! I was impressed, and decided right then I wasn’t going to be too upset with them…)

The spokesman of the group spoke first:

“John, we have decided that we just can’t afford it…not now, not ever.”

(That seemed harsh to include the ‘not ever’ piece, but I digress…the next part is what surprised me.)

He continued:

“We simply can not afford to continue to operate as a business with our network at risk, and quite frankly, we are probably lucky we haven’t been compromised yet. Thank you for helping us get here. We are ready to move forward with your company!”


man with surprised face

I admit, it took me a minute to digest exactly what he was saying. I was already thinking of where to lunch and whom to invite before I even got comfortably seated.

I did recover quickly, and managed to not look completely foolish (I think), and snapped back to full consciousness enough to exchange the customary pleasantries and get the process started.

So, what’s my point? 

My point in sharing this story is to remind myself, and everyone on both sides of this scenario, that while “crunching the numbers” of a new expenditure is a vital part of the process, it’s equally important to consider the cost of choosing NOT to spend the money, especially in the world of Information Technology.

    • What is the true cost of a cybersecurity data breach?
    • What is the cost to your reputation if something happens?
    • What is the cost to your clients that trust you with their personal information?

I could go on and on here…


In this day and age, the question is no longer “if” but “when” your company will become a target of cyber evil actors, and the cost of protecting yourself is a small fraction of the potential impact.

And, it turns out, old dogs can indeed learn new things (thank God!).