12 February 2007

How rude can you be to a prospect?

Sometimes, selling business services there is a reluctance to be too candid. You have probably trained yourself not to be rude to the client either about what they have done or what they propose to do. Like any rule, it can be broken - sometimes accidentally, sometimes deliberately.

At one time I was working with a number of prospects and one of them was moving particularly slowly. In fit of frustration, I told them candidly that what they had done was far from perfect and that they needed to sharpen themselves up. Amazingly they read what I had written and decided that it reflected a passion for their business and there is no doubt in my mind that it helped me to close business with them.

A few months later, a copywriting colleague was looking at the collateral put together by one of my prospects and was very scathing about the nature of the offer and how they were promoting their service. Instead of attempting to turn those comments into something more emollient, we took the decision to face the issue head-on. It's always a high risk strategy, and it isn't something that is appropriate for all situations. However, if you feel that the prospect needs to see how strongly you feel about their business and there is a real risk that your normal approach won't be successful then it may be worthwhile taking the risk.

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