It’s safe to say that all sales professionals have been faced with making a presentation to or meeting with a rude prospect at some point in their career. Whether the person was texting, answering emails or fielding phone calls throughout the meeting — or was just plain unfriendly — it seems that rudeness is happening more frequently than ever.
How to deal with that rudeness has been debated by many, but few agree on the best route to take.
On one side, there are those who believe that rude prospects are a waste of their time and should not be tolerated. These sales professionals may handle the situation by calling out the prospect’s behavior or by simply walking out. While this approach is effective in ending an uncomfortable meeting, it will also end any potential for a future business relationship.
On the other hand, there are those who simply ignore the rudeness and continue on with their presentation. While this more passive approach will preserve a potential relationship, it won’t result in an effective meeting.
So how should rudeness be addressed? It’s tricky.
If you say something, you risk coming off as rude yourself and possibly losing a sale and potential referrals. Conversely, if you carry on with your presentation without the full attention of your audience, everyone’s time is wasted.
While I agree that rudeness is something that should not be constantly endured, the reality is that, at times, it’s necessary to be the “bigger person.” Rudeness should not be excused. Nor should it be returned.
Take a quiet moment to compose yourself. This will allow you to regroup and may also grab the prospect’s attention.
Also, take a look at your presentation style. You need to be more interesting than that text or email. If you’re not, the battle has already been lost.
If you continually find yourself in meetings with rude prospects, the solution could be as simple as doing a better job of qualifying a prospect. Make sure you have one or two conversations to confirm a need truly exists before setting up an in-person meeting.
If you have done all of this and the rude behavior persists, it might be in everyone’s best interest to move on. No one, not even sales professionals, should tolerate being mistreated.