Ever had someone call your office and go off on your team or you? Or maybe bravely post a really nasty review or social media post? These people are a fact of business and life, but the question is how do we deal with them. Listen to find out how.
Hey everyone. It's Robert Poole with the Growing Your B2B Small Business podcast. You ever have somebody call your office, and go off on your team or you? Or maybe bravely post a really nasty review or social media post? These people are a fact of business and life, but the question is, how do we deal with them? Let's find out.
Do you have a small business that sells to other businesses? If so, you probably know that there are plenty of resources for companies that market to consumers, or companies that sell to large and Fortune 500-type companies. But what about the small businesses in the middle who sell other companies? Where do we go to get answers? How do we grow our company consistently while still keeping our sanity? That's the question, and this podcast is the answer. If you're listening to this podcast, you're part of an elite group of achievers who aren't willing to settle for just a nine-to-five job. You're one of the heroes in our society, and you should be proud of it. Welcome to the tribe, and welcome home.
Okay, well, I hope you're having an awesome day today. Last time, we talked about how to use feedback from your clients to grow your business, and how powerful it is. In this episode, I want to talk about the subject of negative feedback, specifically what we call, "the haters." It's those jerks who either call into your office to chew your staff out or you out, or go on a tirade online, send nasty emails, and that sort of thing.
I recently had a sales rep for our company that we canceled his contract due to his low production and some bad feedback we received from prospects and clients. Nobody's happy about getting fired, but some deal with it better than others. This guy was one of the nuts who didn't take it well. I've had several over the years, and if you're in business for any length of time and have to fire clients, employees, or even contractors for that matter, you're going to run into it.
When I first started out 25 years ago, it really used to bother me, because I took it personally. These days, I kind of get a kick out of it. This guy apparently was irate, and somehow thought it was us, and me that was the problem. Although I didn't deal with him directly, somehow he found my email, and he actually listened to this podcast. After sending a really nasty and unprofessional email to our Sales Manager, insulting him professionally and personally, he followed up with an email to me, personally. And it was a very long email, probably, I don't know, maybe 750 words, and single spaced with lots of bold and exclamation marks. And he told me how incompetent I was, how he couldn't believe I went to West Point, how much our company sucked, and how bad my podcast was. He must've only listened to Episode One or Two, which were pretty bad. And then he just went on and on and on.
And this really bothered my Sales Manager, as she doesn't have as much experience dealing with people like this. And I think she was shocked, as she felt she had a pretty good rapport and a pretty good relationship with him. But you know, in life I've found that when it comes to money and ego, people often show their true colors, and terminating a sales service contract is no different. Some my employees thought that I should respond and tell them what a moron is, and so on. But I've learned better, as we'll talk about in a minute. What's even more comical, is that this guy went to the effort of sending me an actual handwritten single-spaced, four-page letter, re-iterating much of the garbage and hate because I didn't respond to his email. I wonder how much time he wasted on that email and letter, not to mention no doubt, hours fuming over it.
Nobody likes dealing with these kinds of people, but the reality is, you're going to run into these people in business and in life. There's a lot of opinions on this subject, but I'll give you some of the strategies that we've used in our company to mitigate this kind of issue. First, there's that mindset word again, or I think in this case, maybe a better word is attitude and a way of thinking. You just have to accept that there's a certain percentage of your customers, prospects, and people in general, who will regularly lash out because of their own internal issues. They're having a bad day, they're just an unhappy person in general, or they're just a jerk, quite frankly. Let's face it. There are about one in 10 people in our country who think they've been abducted by aliens in some point in their life. I'm not kidding. They've done studies on this. Of course, no offense to those of you who've actually been abducted by aliens, but you get the point.
So in business, just like in life, there are people who need to vent and unleash on other people, and maybe even more so to businesses, because they feel braver attacking some entity instead of a person. But you have to realize it's not specific to you. They do that to lots of people and companies. If someone's unhappy and kind of a jerk at times, I guarantee you that they're going to do the same thing to other people in other companies. As my uncle used to joke, "I'm not a racist. I hate everyone equally." And a lot of these haters are just like that, and don't discriminate who they're venting in. So get your attitude and your thinking right first. Again, though, that's, theory and thinking, and a little bit harder to do than practical ideas sometimes.
But what do you actually do, and how do you actually handle it? Well, you have two options. Number one, you can completely ignore them, or you can respond. And in my opinion, it depends on the situation. There's no saying that you have to do one or the other all the time.
First, let's talk about the ignoring tactic. I think you have to start by asking a couple questions. First, is this person on the internet complaining? That's in full public view, and it's different than them calling you. Second, if it's not a public complaint, do they hold influence with a large number of potential prospects in the offline world? For instance, are they a head of an organization that holds clout with a lot of your potential customers? If so, it may make more sense to try to respond to them, and make a little more effort to make peace, so you can at least minimize the damage of then badmouthing you.
However, if it's not public view, like a review or a social media post, and they don't hold a ton of sway offline, then I just completely ignore them. I've found over the years that ignoring a hater is the most painful thing you can do to them. They're trying to elicit a response. I've had people leave me voicemails and send emails which I didn't respond to, and they follow up with a second or third voicemail and email. Sometimes I've had people send me a FedEx to make sure I got it. You wouldn't believe the effort that people go to. And you can tell from their successive of messages that they're getting more and more desperate and frustrated, because they know they're not getting to you. Ignoring them, gives them no further fuel the bad-mouth you. And it drives them nuts so much that it really dis-incentivizes them to do it again to you or another person. Not to mention, it kind of feels good to give a hater a dose of their own medicine by driving them batty.
So what do you do if you feel you need to respond, due to the public nature of the complaint or their influence? Well, first, the big reason to respond to a review or a social media post is not so you can make the hate happy; it's got nothing to do with them. It's the people who see the review that you want to influence. If you're able to respond to a review, like on some platforms or social media, take that opportunity to show everyone reading it, that you're a professional, that you likely did nothing wrong, and you're offering to make things right, and so on. Just you responding will get across the message that you care, that you're a professional, and a quality company. People will tend to believe you more than the hater. It can actually be a good thing people. Considering using you might think, "Wow, they're really professional in the way they responded and handled that. They're trying to make things right. I kind of like that company. Maybe I should check them out."
So again, what specifically do you do, if they're calling your office and talking directly to you or your team, you can kind of handle it like this. First, regardless of their demeanor and jerkiness, thank them for their feedback, and stay calm, and follow up with something like, "You know what? It sounds like we're not the company for you, and we should probably part ways." And then you tell them that you'll either refund them if you think that's warranted, or that, "Hey, we've completed our end of the agreement, and we're not able to give you a refund." And then end the call. And that last part's important. Don't let them get into an argument with you. Simply say something like, "I'm sorry you feel that way, but there's nothing else we can do. So I'm going to end this conversation. Have a nice day." And then literally hang up.
The second most common complaint, the avenue we have from haters we see in our company, is just nasty emails. People are very brave via email and online in general. Email is a little bit more personal than a social media post or a review, for instance, so the best thing you can do is call them right away, and make them repeat what they just said, and what their complaint is. People get much more polite on the phone when they have to complain to another human being, than just writing a nasty email. And then follow the phone script, kind of like I just mentioned. First, try to save the deal and work with them, and if not, sayonara, end the call.
But what about the less personal and less brave, if you ask me, online complaints with reviews or postings? It's a similar process, but if you're able, respond by thanking them for their feedback. Tell them, "We're sorry you feel that way." And, "Please contact us to see if we can make this right." Again, we don't care about the hater. It's the people reading the interview or the social media post that you're addressing. So think about what will impress them, not the hater.
So in the end, every situation is different, but these are some of the ways we've successfully handled the so-called haters and negative feedback out there. I would try some of these, and tweak them to fit your business. But most importantly, remember that it's definitely not personal. Besides that, consider the source, and feel sorry for these people that are miserable people living in their own created hell in their head. So don't let it affect your life, because it's got really nothing to do with you. Thanks for listening today, and I'll talk to you soon.
Thanks for listening today. I hope you learned something you can implement right away. I know your time is valuable, and it's really an honor to serve you. Please subscribe and rate the show in your favorite podcast platform, and give me your honest feedback. Also, I put together a short ebook on some of the top lessons I've learned in 20 years owning a B2B business. You can download a free copy at growyourb2bcompany.com.
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