In this week’s episode, Scott and Jon share stories about some of their worst clients and what they learned from them. Is it always the client’s fault or do we shoulder some of the blame as well? Was there a happy ending? Hosts: Jon Dwoskin & Scott Fishman.
Read the transcript
Scott: Thank you for joining us for another episode of The Seven Minute Sales Minute podcast, your bite-sized and easy-to-digest guide to jump-starting your sales career and putting you on the road to gaining more prospects, more clients, more business and, ultimately, more income. Good morning, Jon.
Jon: Good morning, Scott. How are you?
Scott: I’m doing well. How’s it going over there?
Jon: Great, just enjoying having coffee, doing our podcast with you.
Scott: Nice! Delicious Trader Joe’s French vanilla coffee’s great.
Jon: Let’s tell our listeners what we’re going to talk about today.
Scott: In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about nightmare clients and what we learned from them.
Jon: Right. They’re the worst, but the best.
Jon: The best because the best lessons come from them.
Scott: Right. The reason I wanted to talk about this this week was really because in this past week, I had one of these clients.
Jon: Tell me about it.
Scott: It drove me up a wall. As you know, everything I do is straight up over the phone. I get this guy on the phone and he wants to tell me how great he is the whole time. We’re actually going to call him Dick. That will be his name for the day. Dick proceeds to tell me how amazing he is throughout this whole process. Dick doesn’t want to hear any niceties. He doesn’t even want me to ask him how his day is. He wants to ask me questions and he wants me to answer them.
Jon: It sounds like his name is quite fitting.
Scott: Exactly. Dick just wanted to tell me how rich he was and all this stuff, which is great. I don’t mind. I will stroke your ego all day long, but this guy didn’t even want his ego stroked. He just …
Jon: We like to work with people who have money.
Scott: Exactly. He just wanted to ask me questions and get the answers. The problem was, is, every time he asks me a question, as soon as I would try to answer the question, he would interrupt me and say, “I just want the answer.” It was maddening. I let him get my blood pressure up and I tried to get him … I tried to turn it around and it wasn’t happening. Him and I just butted heads. We were stepping on each other’s periods and commas left and right.
Jon: What did you do?
Scott: The conversation really got nowhere. Really, at the end of the call, him and I, we talked. I actually sent him just a cursory quote because that’s all I was going to give this guy right over the phone. At the end, it was funny. He said, “You know what, I really like you. I wish I would meet you in person someday. If you tried to punch me in the face, we’d probably hit it off. You remind me a lot of my son-in-law.” I was like, “Okay. Now, after you tried to give me all the sales training over the phone telling me just to answer my client’s questions, challenging me on everything, I probably am twice the salesperson you’ll ever be. You’re, now, you want to be my friend.” It was very strange. I hung up the phone.
Jon: Did you say that to him?
Scott: No. What I did say to him was, “Yeah, you know what? I would love to pick your brain,” because, honestly, I’ll take information from anywhere. Feedback is a gift so I would have loved to actually meet with him and have him talk to me. I thought his idea of sales was ridiculous – just to answer questions is how you actually sell to somebody.
Jon: Yeah, very close-minded.
Scott: Exactly. After I hung up, I said, “Okay, that got nowhere. It was a waste of about 20 minutes of my life. How could I fix it?” My thought was, had I taken a step back and tried to calm myself down, I could have maybe gotten him to mirror me a little bit versus me mirroring him because him and I just became a big pissing contest. We got nowhere. I didn’t get the sale. He didn’t get the product. Nothing happened. I thought maybe if I had a little bit more humility, I would have been able to take a step back and turn him around a little bit.”
Jon: Good for you.
Scott: At the end of the day, it was a learning experience and I didn’t get the sale on that call. I’m probably not going to get the sale with this guy. I’m probably not going to meet him in person because I probably will punch him in the face. But, it was a learning experience. I guess it was 20 to 30 minutes well spent.
Jon: When you looked at that experience, I love what you said about asking for feedback, thinking about feedback. It’s the do-over. It’s the only way that we learn on how to do it better the next time. As you talked about humility, what are the two or three things or the one thing that you would do differently when you look at this scenario the next time it happens?
Scott: It would be plain and simple. I would say, “Dick, listen. I’m here to help you. Let’s take a step back. Maybe we didn’t hit it off right off the bat. Tell me a little bit about how you want this to end. What are you trying to accomplish? What is our end game? I hope you get there. I work for you.” I think that’s something we forget as salespeople a lot of times is we do need the client. What I see is a lot of times, newer salespeople which this podcast is geared towards, they get paired up with some hotshot in the office or some hotshot from the company to shadow them. They pick up on a lot of the bad things that the hotshots do because it’s easier. They don’t pick up on the fundamentals that the hotshots do naturally, that just comes to them naturally. They think that acting all boiler-roomish or wolf of Wall Street-ish is going to get them a sale when it’s really not. It’s relationship selling, for sure.
Jon: Right. We are a new … I agree. We are of service to the client. Without the clients, we can’t grow our business. I think that’s critical. I’m sure nightmare client, with me and what I learned. I remember I had this one client when I first started off in the business and every time I would see his phone number pop up on caller ID, my stomach would hit the ground, hit [crosstalk 00:05:54]. I couldn’t communicate with him because he … I could but not to the caliber that I wanted to do because he scared the shit out of me. What I learned was, and still, I’m still learning but, what I learned in that situation is how overly prepared I needed to be for this client, for all my clients moving forward and really just making sure that I knew everything and didn’t take anything for granted about what was going on with that client, their deal, their account. This happened to be real estate. I’m selling some apartment buildings for them but really understanding all the nooks and crannies and perspectives because this client would try to catch me and I don’t want to get caught.
Scott: I’ve been there too, this old fail-to-plan, plan-to-fail situation.
Jon: I remember when I first started in the real estate business, I met this agent that I worked with who became a good friend and he was telling me this story when I first started it about one of his nightmare clients. He cold calls this guy and the guy was just so rude to him. The guy ended up hanging up on him. The guy called back. My buddy called back and he says to him, “Hey.” I’m not suggesting everybody does this but he says to him, “Hey, were you born an asshole or you work at it every day?” The guy loved it. He laughed. He thought it was hilarious. Nobody had ever called him out like that. They reached deals together and, ultimately, became good buddies.
Scott: That’s fantastic.
Jon: He just called him out on it in a very wrong way and it worked for him.
Scott: I think that’s true. Sometimes, I deal with a lot of folks out East. People are scared to work with New Yorkers. I love it because they come at you. They’re in your personal space even. If you’re on the phone, you can feel it. If you step forward and you get in their personal space back, they love it. If you take a step back and they can then proceed to encroach on you further, then they know they own you and they don’t respect you. But, if you meet them just like a bully, if you give a bully a bloody nose, they back up.
Jon: Let’s talk about how you transition. In your scenario, and this happens to all of us every day – you, me and everybody who’s listening – how do you transition your confidence to get that client to mirror you on the phone when you’ve lost control of the call or the meeting?
Scott: Right. I can share my secret. It’s a cheat but it’s great. Since I sell mainly on the phone, I say, “Do me a favor, Jon. Can you hold for a moment? I got to clear this call.” I’ll put you on hold. I really put you on mute and I hear you probably saying this [inaudible 00:08:37] under your breath but, at that time, I know that I’m getting a pause. I can come back and regroup and start the call exactly how I want to. Then, take a beat, say how I’m going to restart the call and then I’d come back and say, “Hey, John. Where were we? Oh, yeah. I was just going to ask you this.” Then, now regain control of the call and take the call someplace I wanted to go instead of where you want.
Jon: I would agree. Mine’s right in line. If I’m in a face-to-face meeting, I would excuse myself and say I have to go to the bathroom. If I’m on the call, the same thing, I’d put it on mute. I learned this trick a long time ago from a book, You Can Negotiate Anything, Herb Cohen. He said when you lose control of a call, you hang up on yourself talking.
Scott: I like that.
Jon: If you hang up on yourself talking, nobody would think that you would hang up on your own self talking. It would be like me losing control. Let’s say you’re my client and me saying to you, “Hey, Scott. What I want to talk to you about right now …” and you hang up on yourself. Then, you initiate the callback and you say, “You know, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened there,” because the person who initiates the call is in control of the call. It gives you a minute to take a breath and recollect.
Scott: I love it. That’s great, too.
Jon: Yeah. I’ve taught a lot of salespeople that. I’ve done it a lot. I’m not silly proud of it but there are times I get too flustered and you just lose control of a call. You got to do what you got to do.
Scott: Right, exactly. I think this, actually, we talked about how an objection is really a buy-in trying to disguise. I think along the same token, what we’ve learned is that a nightmare client is actually a learning experience in disguise.
Jon: It’s a gift. It’s a gift because it pushes you to take yourself to your next level. It pushes you to be better and it pushes you to evaluate your current systems and processes of what you are doing and up your game instead of being so complacent and taking things for granted.
Scott: To sum it up, what we need to do is when you do have that nightmare client, we need to take a step back and re-evaluate and say what could we have done differently. Because we definitely have fault in that situation as well. We share the blame.
Jon: I agree. As salespeople, we’re actually responsible to take control of the situation. They’re depending on us to lead. We got to give ourselves a jolt of confidence in those moments like that guy ultimately did in your initial conversation that you shared telling you that he actually likes you and you reminded him of his son-in-law. You had more leeway than you probably even thought.
Scott: Right. Exactly.
Jon: It happens to me all the time. We don’t realize how much control you have.
Jon: Thank you for listening to this episode of The Seven Minute Sales Minute. For show notes and worksheets pertaining to this week’s show, check us out at the sevenminutesalesminute.com. Take today’s strategies and run with them. Increase your sales and increase your income.