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In "The Mark: A Real Sales Guy Approach to Selling Corporate Accounts" by Bryan J. Seck it is written:

I know this is a blow-off answer, and now I ask this in my first meeting so I don't have to hear it ever again as an excuse.

After reading the Merriam Webster's definitions "to refuse to take notice of, honor, or deal with", "to end a relationship with", "to outperform in a contest" and "to fail to attend or show up for" I'm still confused about the correct interpretation of "blow-off" in that context—i.e., what is a "blow-off answer"?

Also, if a definition of "blow-off answer" exists, I intuitively guess, even if I cannot prove it, that it must exist a definition of "blow-off question", too.

So, can anybody explain how "blow-off" is used in such contexts and what is its meaning?

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3 Answers 3

In such contexts , "blow-off" is used in a dismissive sense. For example, the phrase "blowing someone off" is to not meet someone who expected to see you, or to skip an appointment. By supplying a blow-off answer the author intends to end interaction with the other person.

A "blow-off question" doesn't exactly fit the bill of the root idiom as it's difficult to phrase a question with the connotation of discouraging further interactions. Perhaps something like "Don't you have somewhere to be?" could be categorized as a blow-off question.

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Another blow off question: why are you still here? –  ghoppe Jul 24 '13 at 16:42
A note to non-fluent English speakers: "blowing someone off" has another NSFW meaning (that "blow-off answer" does not have), so be careful with how you phrase/search for it. –  Izkata Jul 24 '13 at 17:12
That's not entirely correct. If one omits the last word then the phrase is certainly NSFW, but the entire saying by itself is fine. –  Andrew Ng Jul 24 '13 at 17:18
@AndrewNg Including "off" means to complete the act in question, while not including it means they may or may not have finished the NSFW action. –  Izkata Jul 24 '13 at 21:56
@Izkata, I don't believe I have heard that phrase very often in practice. I think you may be combining this phrase with the phrase where one substitutes the first word with "getting". Completing the NSFW action is described by using blowing in the past tense - "blew". –  Andrew Ng Jul 24 '13 at 22:03
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The first meaning in your reference is meant:-

a : to refuse to take notice of, honor, or deal with : ignore b : to end a relationship with

A blow-off answer would be an answer chiefly designed to get rid of the questioner, to discourage further questions or end an interaction.

That being so, a blow-off question is a harder thing to imagine. To end the interaction with the person supposed to supply the answer, all you have to do is not ask anything.

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A "blow-off" answer is an answer meant to discourage further questioning of the speaker on the subject of the answered question, or in general.

In context, the question asked was "why was this sales opportunity lost", or as it would be asked of the person, "why didn't you agree to buy from me", and the answer was "you didn't give us a compelling reason to change".

The author, who'd asked the question, treats this answer as an attempt by the VP to evade providing a helpful answer as to why the rep lost the sale. The answer provides no meaningful information; what would have compelled them to change? What did the rep not say that the VPs wanted to hear about the product or service being offered?

For that reason, and because this answer is common in the sales world after losing a sale, the author now tries to head off this type of answer by asking the people he's selling to at the beginning of the process, "What would be a compelling reason for you to make a change in the way you do business right now?" After receiving an informative, realistic answer to this question, the sales rep's job is now to show that his company's product or service will give whomever he's selling it to just such a reason to change. He can tailor his sales pitch to the specific advantages they're interested in.

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What's a VP? I'm not familiar with that term. –  Mari-Lou A Jul 24 '13 at 18:10
VP: Vice President. (A common title for a senior executive at a company, for instance, the person who oversees the entire sales division would be the VP of Sales, reporting directly to the company's President or CEO.) –  Hellion Jul 24 '13 at 18:38
@Mari-LouA But take such titles with a grain of salt. There have been some pretty entertaining stories of corporate culture gone wrong, where (for example) the Vice President of Sanitation Engineering is just the guy in the coveralls who knows where the Pine-Sol is kept. –  Patrick M Jul 24 '13 at 19:24
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