Although there are many prospects who are open to talking when you demonstrate empathy and relevancy, there are also some emotionally charged jerks that seem intent on hurting you and making it personal.


The pandemic has changed everything. It’s added new stress, challenges, and problems to our plates. This might be a new flash, but prospects feel it too.

The Call

I could hear it going down in the other room. One of my inside salespeople landed smack dab in the middle of a hostile prospect call.

I couldn’t hear what the prospect was saying, but based on how my rep was responding, it wasn’t pretty.

It was one of those calls we all dread – where the prospect unloads and then hangs up on you. They accuse you of interrupting and throw in some saucy obscenities.

I stopped what I was doing and went into support him. I stood in front of him, smiled, and mouthed my two favorite words, “Emotional Control.”

I waited for the call to end; my rep did a good job, but he had every right to be a little rattled.

The Jerk

“Man, that really sucked.  He tore me up,” he said with a forced chuckle and trepidation.

I reminded him that he’s made hundreds of calls, and that was the first time he’d ever had that happen. I could tell that didn’t really help, so I suggested a break.

But, before I left, I said, “Hey. That was a gift.” He looked at me, perplexed and somewhat humored by my seemingly nonsensical words. “That was a gift,” I repeated.

“Well, I don’t see a gift just a jerk!” He resumed his call block without incident, had some good calls and got back on track.

At the end of the day though he walked into my office said, “Ok, man. I give up. How in the hell was that a gift?” he asked.

“Its a gift because it makes you better. Do you think that guy is proud of himself?” I asked.

“Hmm. Well, probably not. If he does, he’s probably not a very good person,” he said thoughtfully.

“Exactly. And, we’ve all said things when we were stressed or angry. We’ve taken that stress and anger out on innocent friends, family, or strangers. And, for those of us that are good people, we feel bad about it. At least with friends or family, we have the luxury of apologizing and hoping for their grace. You called someone that could have had a terrible day. And, you just called at the wrong time. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, so he took it out on you. So, you have a choice, label him a jerk, or use how you feel as energy to get back on the horse and call him again.”

The Call Back

The next morning my rep called the “jerk” back. It was a courageous move that made me proud of him.

As it often turns out, the guy wasn’t a bad person. In fact, he really appreciated the call back because he felt terrible for how he had treated my rep the day before.

We learned that he’d had lay off his entire team. Some of them were his friends, and he knew their families, and he was taking it very hard.

He really appreciated the call back and flooded the call with his own apologies.

Although he was not in a position to buy from us, he gave us a referral to friend who owns a company that was thriving. He sent an introductory email and we were able to schedule a discovery meeting.

The next time you get someone nasty on a call, try cooling off, changing your approach and giving them a call back the next day.

Remember that most people are good and that when they treat you with contempt or disrespect, they’re likely having a bad day. It’s also likely that they feel remorse for treating you this way.

About the author

Jason Eatmon

Jason Eatmon

Jason is a Nebraska native which is where his work ethic and sense of…

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