Belligerence Kills

I was staring out the window, thinking of how to rescue my own personal economy when the phone rang.  Always hopeful that someone is calling to spend money with me, I answer it (my part of the conversation is in italics):

"This is Tim."

"Hi, Tim, my name is Tim Kelly.  How are you doing?"

"I'm doing fine.  We've spoken before.  Aren't you with Brian Tracy seminars?"

"Yes. (confused) What's your last name?"


"Tim Rohrer.  Okay, right.  I sent you an e-mail but it bounced back at first and then we spoke again and I re-sent the e-mail.  Did you get it?"

"Yes.  I responded to it - letting you know that we didn't want to take advantage of your offer."

"You sent me an e-mail?  I'm looking through my e-mail folder and I don't see it."

"That doesn't matter right now since we are talking.  We decided not to take advantage of your offer to have a trainer come to one of our sales meetings."

"Why not?"

"I spoke to the other sales managers and we decided that having an outside trainer come in for a single meeting didn't make sense.  We are working on some specific training and don't want to get sidetracked by having an outside trainer take over one of our meetings."

"You say that you are working on some specific training.  Brian Tracy isn't coming to town until May.  Would there be a time when your training is over - say in April - that we could send in Steven Black?  He is the #1 Brian Tracy trainer in the country and it's been our experience that sales teams get a benefit from his meeting.  While Brian Tracy isn't for everyone, there will be the "extra milers" who will want to go to his seminar after being trained by Steven Black.  Plus, we're giving away one ticket to the seminar during the training."

"I appreciate the offer but we've decided to pass."

"Maybe you feel that having Steven come in will interrupt your training but his stuff is very generic.  He talks about ways to stay motivated and sell more during a difficult economy.  Don't these sound like good topics for any sales team?"

"Well, yes, but. . . ."

(interrupting) "Yes, of course they do."

"Your tone is beginning to sound a little condescending."

"Look, I did everything you asked.  You asked me to send you an e-mail and follow up and that's what I did.  Now, you're saying you sent an e-mail and I don't have it."

"You think that because you called me a couple of times, I owe you?"

"I just want you to be straight up with me instead of having me send e-mails and make phone calls to you if you didn't have any interest to start with."

"I'm not sure how to be more direct with you than to say we considered your proposal and have decided against it."

"Yeah, you know what?  Have a great day, okay Mr. Rohrer?!"

Before I could respond, the line went dead.

Times are tough and Mr. Kelly may have heard "no" one too many times today.  Perhaps, he was at his wit's end and the frustration caused by rejection overcame him.  Regardless, it's a seller's job to hold their emotions in check and either find some way to get value out of the conversation or politely terminate the conversation and move on.

I almost called him back.  I almost tried to reach Brian Tracy to inquire if belligerence was part of his training methodology.  Instead, I decided to write this post so that I could encourage each of you to avoid this type of confrontation.

To me, the obvious conclusion of this conversation should have been this:

Mr. Kelly:  "As much as it disappoints me to know that your organization won't have the benefit of Steven Black's training, I am still confident that several of your sales people would be interested in attending the Brian Tracy workshop.  If I were to send you some materials about the seminar, would you mind distributing them to your people?"

Me:  "I'd be happy to."

Mr. Kelly:  "One last favor, Mr. Rohrer.  I know that the radio business is pretty insular and you, no doubt, have friends working as sales managers and general managers at other radio stations in Atlanta."

Me:  "That's true."

Mr. Kelly:  "Would you mind providing me with a couple of names and numbers?"

Me:  "Sure.  You can call . . ."

If Mr. Kelly had been able to keep it together for the final two minutes of our conversation, he would have received a referral and this post about his negative behavior would never have been written.  When your frustration level is high, biting your tongue and checking your emotions - although challenging - pay the best dividends.


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