Difficult prospects are one of the many things that can make prospecting unpleasant.  I’m not talking about difficult to reach prospects – that’s just something you need to handle with patience and persistence.  No, I’m talking about the kind of people that spew vitriol at you when you call them.   People who swear at you, speak to you condescendingly, say things to you that are inappropriate or vulgar (this happens to women all the time) or are just rude to you in any of a number of ways.

I’m usually grateful to discover what people are truly like on call one.  I personally don’t want to do business with people who act like that.  If they can’t muster up a polite “We’re not interested, thank you”, they  aren’t clients that I want, so I’m happy to discover that in the first minute of speaking to them – I usually imagine them speaking to my employees that way, or I imagine them talking about us after our engagement ends, and I feel confident that this person just did me a HUGE favor by revealing their true colors.

During my more than 20 years of outbound prospecting I have been sworn at, yelled at, had men say absolutely disgusting things to me, and I’ve learned to roll with the punches.   Here are some things to keep in mind when you come across those difficult people:

1,  Don’t take anything personally.  How someone behaves says everything about them and nothing about you.

2.  You don’t know what’s going on in that person’s life today.  It’s possible you’ve caught them on the absolute worst day of their life.  You don’t have time for spite.  Don’t do something foolish that could cost you your job or your reputation.  Just assume this is a good person having a bad day, and carry on.

3.  Don’t tarnish your brand reacting to people who are looking for a fight.   You don’t have to pick up the ball.

4.  Remember that the world is filled with awesome and interesting people.  Your next call will be different, get right back on the phone.

5.  Always be polite.  You’re a living breathing advertisement for your company.  Everything you say should be polite, even when you’re being berated.  You never know what’s going to make it’s way online forever.  You don’t want it to be a recording of half of a conversation.

If you’re getting a disproportionate amount of rude reactions to your calls, perhaps you need to ask for feedback.  Are you asking people if it’s a good time to talk before you launch into your pitch?  Are you being persistent or are you being pushy?  Can you tell the difference?

Are you a business owner who is rude to telemarketers?  A good rule of thumb is to treat all sales reps the way you would want people to treat you and your sales reps.  If you’re not currently behaving like that, check yourself.  Being kind takes no additional effort.

“But Carrie, they should…”

No.  Don’t be that guy.