The Best Way to Insult a Prospect

23 replies
I've noticed that in the three serious discussions I've had with business owners, each time I pointed out obvious faults in their marketing tactics or strategies, they got defensive and made excuses about why their website, copy or sales strategy sucks.

I'm guessing its best to build them up somewhat with compliments first before showing them their faults so that you don't bruise their ego too much and risk losing them. Any thought on this?

Thanks.
#insult #prospect
  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    Try and frame the conversation so they admit the mistakes and holes in their web sites/online marketing.

    Originally Posted by PaulintheSticks View Post

    I've noticed that in the three serious discussions I've had with business owners, each time I pointed out obvious faults in their marketing tactics or strategies, they got defensive and made excuses about why their website, copy or sales strategy sucks.

    I'm guessing its best to build them up somewhat with compliments first before showing them their faults so that you don't bruise their ego too much and risk losing them. Any thought on this?

    Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Originally Posted by PaulintheSticks View Post

    I've noticed that in the three serious discussions I've had with business owners, each time I pointed out obvious faults in their marketing tactics or strategies, they got defensive and made excuses about why their website, copy or sales strategy sucks.

    I'm guessing its best to build them up somewhat with compliments first before showing them their faults so that you don't bruise their ego too much and risk losing them. Any thought on this?

    Thanks.
    You have learned a valuable lesson, my little Padiwan.

    If you insult anything the buyer has done before, you are attacking his reasoning. Nobody responds well to that.

    I always compliment him on the fact that he did something, which puts him in the upper 20%. I always also tell prospects that all my clients already have a website.

    I'm really trying to make any work they have had done irrelevant.

    Never criticize a prospects previous buying decision. I wouldn't even agree with them if they criticize it.

    Because any criticism will be considered an attack. And any insulting of a previous buying decision will cause them to get even... by not buying from you.


    I can tell you with absolute certainty, that complimenting the prospect on something they have already done, paves the road to the next buying decision...which is buying from you.

    There are enough speed bumps on the road to a sale. There is no need to create your own.
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  • Profile picture of the author Suze Thomas
    Another way to address this is, early on in the conversation, ask who did the ad or promotion? Ask whether they like it? You'd be surprised, many don't like what the other guy did and will tell you. I still wouldn't chime in, but it does bring up the whole issue of ineffective advertising without you saying it directly.
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  • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
    That is a hard line to walk because a consultant is viewed as
    someone who is going to use my watch to tell me what time it is.

    Until you know more, treat all their work as if their spouse or brother
    or niece did it, because that is often true.

    Get your underlying attitude and approach to be how your experience and hours
    of research/expertise is going to help them get their future - in areas they
    bring up - how they want it to be. Sort of: "I've done this and have this expertise and
    can offer these services. How can we work together to get what you want?"

    Dan
    Signature

    "If you think you're the smartest person in the room, then you're probably in the wrong room."

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  • Profile picture of the author Eddie Spangler
    Misleading title, I was ready to type up a whole page full of ways to insult biz owners...

    Even well intentioned suggestions will come across as insulting to many biz owners.
    Its just a natural reaction. Think about it, they are busting their ass trying to run a business , putting all the pieces together(sales, accounting, inventory, employees,etc) and then someone who is not even part of it has the nerve to tell them
    how they arent doing something right.
    Signature
    Promise Big.
    Deliver Bigger.
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  • Profile picture of the author misterme
    Plainly stated, you can't tell people that they're wrong.

    You've never been married, eh?

    If you're telling people that they're wrong, they'll take it personally. You don't want to hit their ego. The thing to point out as the flaw is the marketing tactic itself as a separate entity.

    "Honey you're peeling the potato all wrong" is a way different message than "that potato was peeled incorrectly" is a way different message than "let me show you another way to peel that potato. See what you think."

    If you build them up with compliments first, which some people do, keep in mind we've all had people do that to us. Except for maybe three people in Bulgaria. And when they're laying on the compliments, we go "uh oh" and wait for the other shoe to drop. Especially when we hear the word "but." That throws everything before it out the window.
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    • Profile picture of the author PaulintheSticks
      Originally Posted by misterme View Post

      Plainly stated, you can't tell people that they're
      wrong.
      Well I know better than to do that but you don't even need to come close to telling people they're wrong. The slightest hint of uncovering a defect will put people on the defensive.

      You've never been married, eh?
      No I haven't. What's your point? See how I took that as an attack?
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      • Profile picture of the author DABK
        Don't uncover defects... lead them to do it.

        Example:
        There are 5000 searches a month for Mexican restaurants in Google. The number one site gets 30%-33% of that. That's at least 1,500. Just because they did the right SEO. How many do you get?

        Example 2:
        A recent study found out that small business sites in USA convert at 2.9%. That means that 29 out of every 1000 visitors buy something from them. I took it upon myself to see if I can improve the numbers for one of my clients. One month later, 41 out of every 1000 visitors to his site buys.

        I, too, taught the title misleading. I was expecting advice on how to insult them... I feel like doing that, now and again, and lack in this area.

        You look a lot like me, doesn't do it, and that's my best.

        Originally Posted by PaulintheSticks View Post

        Well I know better than to do that but you don't even need to come close to telling people they're wrong. The slightest hint of uncovering a defect will put people on the defensive.



        No I haven't. What's your point?
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      • Profile picture of the author misterme
        Originally Posted by PaulintheSticks View Post

        you don't even need to come close to telling people they're wrong. The slightest hint of uncovering a defect will put people on the defensive.
        Not if you blame the tactic instead of the person.
        Even getting your prospect to say it themselves is based on you not pointing your finger at the prospect.
        That's the principle.
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  • Profile picture of the author PaulintheSticks
    What about using the "its not your fault that your sales process sucks" strategy to help them justify their faults? Using something like "Its amazing how much you've accomplished but since there's only 24 hours in a day, there's no way you can do all of that plus implement an optimized sales process". Which obviously is another selling point for them to hire you.
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  • Profile picture of the author hayfj2
    "Can I say something without offending you.....?"

    or

    "Can I say something without you getting upset.....?"

    ASK PERMISSION TO SAY WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY

    e.g. "Can I say something without you getting upset.....?"

    "You don't know your current cost per lead, your current cost per sale.
    You're unsure what the life time value of a customer is, but you're happy
    with the way you're managing your marketing.....Have I missed something?"

    They cant get upset at you at having given you permission to point out their faults.

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    • Profile picture of the author PaulintheSticks
      Originally Posted by hayfj2 View Post

      "Can I say something without offending you.....?"

      or

      "Can I say something without you getting upset.....?"

      ASK PERMISSION TO SAY WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY

      e.g. "Can I say something without you getting upset.....?"
      Sounds great in theory but to me thats kind of like asking a girl that broke up with you, what the real reason is.
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      • Profile picture of the author robingg14
        The sandwich approach quite often works...

        Compliment
        Something they need to improve (not a criticism but feedback)
        Compliment
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        • Profile picture of the author Jon Martin
          "Listen Bob, I'm looking through the website here and I've gotta say the content is incredible. Whoever wrote the stuff on here obviously did a fantastic job and knows the business, but the design itself is outdated."

          Almost all of the time, the person you're talking to is going to be the same one who wrote the content on the outdated site. Make them feel good about that so you don't totally crush their self-esteem when you start to get into what they need to have done.

          I'm really punctual about it. If their website looks like crap, I'll tell them. But i'll do so in a way that although obviously attacks their reasoning (no getting around that), but keeps them on the phone and keeps them invested in what I'm telling them.

          Sometimes what they need is being told that their website looks like poop. How else are they supposed to know that an upgrade is necessary?
          Signature
          "Be the hero of your own movie."
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  • Profile picture of the author DaniMc
    I avoid criticizing any part of their business at all costs. Yes, there are ways listed above that might not offend them so much, but I look at this like telling someone their baby is ugly!

    We take our businesses very seriously, and every aspect of it is personal. Even if I KNEW my baby was ugly, if my sister whom I dearly love told me that, I would be offended. Much less some stranger off the street walks up to me and says it.

    If you really earn trust first, as a professional, you can start asking about different parts of their business in a complimentary way. The more you talk about their different strategies, they will begin to uncover some things that they aren't happy with. THOSE are the things you question further.

    Don't just ask random questions either, ask questions about the situation and then ask them questions that lead them to tell you what solving those problems would do for them.

    Now, you know the pain points, you know the problems they cause, and you know what it would mean to them to fix it. When you pitch your product, you weave all these things into your presentation. Don't tell them what YOU like about your product. Tell them what it will mean to them when they have it.

    This is deeper than many sales people go and it isn't a style that works for all. It also takes a LOT of practice to do it on the fly. Learning this is where I came up with my legal pad tactic that I mentioned in another thread. There are other tricks to this method, but that is the framework I use. It works great.
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    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
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  • Profile picture of the author JustinSch
    It doesn't have to be framed as an issue of right vs wrong.

    Instead of "here is what you are doing wrong and here is what you should be doing instead", you can frame it as "here is what you are doing, which is a great place to start from, and here is what works even better".
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  • Profile picture of the author squadron
    I guess it depends on the words you use. I'd be inclined to start with talking about what is good (there must be something), and then talk about opportunities for improvement rather than their faults.
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  • Profile picture of the author Heart Cardio
    Yes a compliment first can build them up so they feel better. Or you could try the insult first and then the compliment.
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  • Profile picture of the author misterme
    Howzabout "So... what do you think would work better than what you're doing now?"

    Now you're not saying it at all, but inferring that their marketing wasn't so hot. And getting them to start talking about possible changes, which if they start talking, suggests that they agree their marketing can be improved. And gets them involved. And to which you can then add your "thoughts" to.
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    • Profile picture of the author EricGuimond
      I usually let them answer the question by themselves so for example:

      So Bob, what do you think about XYZ you have right now?

      Often times theyll tell you themselves there not happy or flat out disapointed and looking for something better, if not follow up with:

      Well Bob, you've got a great start here(even if your cringing inside) , and we can build up to bring you in some nice sales.

      Then show him exaple of properly done work, IE website or whatever your selling, most will be able to tell the difference and you educate them as your talking why this will help them.


      If there overly sensitive, Id just drop them, they'll problably be a pain in the #*% and not open to future projects and make your life difficult, might as well concentrate on clients that realize they need to change to grow their business.

      -Eric
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  • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
    Early on you want to be positive about anything they can.

    Then instead of pointing out their marketing mistakes introduce
    any suggestions you have as new strategies they can add on
    to what they've already started.

    That is usually the least offensive way of doing things.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh
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