How to turn a bully prospect into a paying customer

by Steli Efti
Biff Bully-min

The last thing any inside sales rep wants to hear when they pick up the phone is: You suck!

Sure, not every sales call is going to go smoothly. But when a prospect turns into a bully, listing off all the reasons your product and company is terrible. It’s hard not to feel discouraged and not know what to do.

But there’s a mantra you can use in these situations to regain your confidence and turn a bully prospect into a paying customer. When they start yelling just ask yourself: If what we have is so bad why are they still talking to us?

The only logical reason a prospect is still talking to you is that they want to buy from you

The reason a prospect picked up the phone and called you is because they want to buy from you. Plain and simple.

However, they don’t want you to know this. Your prospects know that if they attack your confidence, they’re going to gain the upper hand in the negotiation. So they start rattling off a laundry list of reasons why they won’t buy from you:

  • You’re too expensive
  • You’re lacking critical features
  • Your company is too small
  • You’re not offering a big enough discount

And I get it. It’s hard to hear these things and still feel like you can sell at your best. But you need to remember that mantra: Why are they still talking to us?

If you’re too expensive, why did they both to waste more time and money by picking up the phone and calling you?

If you’re missing critical features, why are they even entertaining you as an option?

If they love what they currently have, or competitors are offering them a deeper discount, why even come to you (or anyone else) at all?

This is the key question you need to ask whenever a prospect starts trying to bully you. Because there’s only one logical reason why they’re still talking to you: They want what you’re selling.

Remembering this mantra puts you in a position of strength

Negotiations are all about power. And the stronger you can come into one, the better chance you have of getting everything you want. These bully reps know this, and they’re using it against you.

When most sales reps get yelled at or told their product is terrible, they lose their confidence. They think there’s no chance they’re going to get the sale and the only way they remotely might be able to is to fix all these problems and give the prospect everything they want.

They become insecure and end up in a position of weakness in the negotiation.

Yet by asking “Why are they still talking to us?” it puts you on equal ground with your prospect. You know they’re still interested in your product, despite their complaints that you’re too expensive or lacking features.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you aren’t more expensive than the competition. Or that you’re not missing features they’d like to have. What it does mean, is that these issues aren’t dealbreakers.

So, instead of feeling beaten by the bully, you can come back at them with a position of strength:

“Yes, we’re more expensive than the competition. However, we offer X, Y, Z, and our technology is better for these reasons…”

Your attitude needs to be, if we’re so bad why did you take the time to talk to us? And then remember that they came to you, because they want what you have.

When the prospect starts yelling, just remember, they called you

It’s easy to get shaken or lose your confidence when a prospect starts trying to bully you. But just remember, inside every bully, whether they’re on the schoolyard or a sales call, is someone looking for attention.

Look past their anger and frustration and ask: Why are they still talking to us?

You know why.

Write it out. Print it out. Tape it up on your desk. And whenever a prospect starts yelling or getting aggressive, look at it and use it to turn the negotiation into an even playing field.

Have you successfully turned a bully prospect into a paying customer? Tell me your stories in the comments below.  

Don't let a bully prospect kill your confidence. Stay one step ahead with our free Objection Management Template.

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