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How to Deal With a Nasty Prospect on Cold Calls

By December 24, 2022No Comments

If you do a lot of cold calling, you’ll inevitably face some nasty prospects. These prospects will be outright rude to you, call you names, insult your profession, or swear at you for simply making a professional outreach attempt. Fortunately, the situation is extremely rare, especially if you’re making cold calls the right way and being straightforward and professional on the call. Prospects may be curt and not care about what you have to say, but the vast majority will be reasonable and respectful. Still, the occasional nasty prospect has an oversized effect. Even the possibility of encountering a rude individual looms large in the mind of many sales professionals. I’ve seen the confidence of a new sales rep wrecked by a bad call with a prospect who was having a bad day and just wanted to destroy someone. That’s completely unacceptable. No one deserves to be disrespected, least of all by a complete stranger, for simply doing a necessary part of a job. What to Do about a Nasty Prospect I’ve found that getting over the fear of talking to a nasty prospect is realizing and deciding that you don’t have to accept that treatment—from potential customers or anyone. Respect yourself and expect others to respect you as well, and don’t accept anything less than that. You don’t have to engage with someone who is being rude or insulting. In fact, most of the time you should just proactively wrap up the call and move on. Don’t feel like you have to listen to the prospect ream you out. Deciding that this is someone you won’t engage with and ending the call early is a great way to empower yourself. No sale is worth breaking your self-esteem or self-confidence. Once in a while, if you’re on a call with a particularly nasty prospect, you may want to do something to stand up for yourself. Instead of stooping to the prospect’s level and being rude and disrespectful yourself, opt for wit. Use a clever, classy response that allows you to escape the call with a smile—and perhaps makes the prospect think twice about verbally abusing sales reps in the future. Sample Responses I experienced nasty prospects from time to time when I was making cold calls. Here are a few ways I dealt with them. Nasty Prospect #1 Prospect: For God’s sake, what is WRONG with you people that you call me like this? Me: Again, I was— Prospect: No, it’s annoying! Stop calling me! Me: No problem, I will do that. Hey, you’re in charge of the sales team, right? Prospect: Yes… Me: Your response to being called on in this way reflects poorly on you as a sales leader. You ought to take your professionalism and job as a sales leader more seriously. Have a good day, and goodbye. Nasty Prospect #2 Prospect: Why don’t you get a real job? Me: This is a real job. It sounds like you’re pretty unhappy in your job, though, if this is how you respond to people calling you! You can disregard this call, goodbye. Nasty Prospect #3 Prospect: You must be some kind of idiot! Don’t ever call here again! Me: No problem! Just so I can know—you’re actually responsible for evaluating new potential deals for your firm, correct? Prospect: Yes, I— Me: Well, you didn’t do a good job performing that part of your job today. Goodbye. Conclusion Some people may take issue with this article, and I can understand why. It’s controversial to not bend over backward for a nasty prospect, even one who’s being rude or disrespectful. But it’s important that sales reps know that, just like any other interaction, they shouldn’t let other people verbally abuse them, regardless of the circumstances. Avoid such people, and know that if you want to and they really deserve it, you can conclude the call on your terms with a quippy dig that keeps your dignity intact.


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