Part of human nature is wanting to be liked. Deep within each of us is that child who wanted the other kids on the playground to play with us, the middle-schooler who desperately wanted to be seen as “cool” by his or her peers, and the young adult who hoped to be appealing to prospective romantic partners. If the thought of being rejected doesn’t terrify you, it probably unnerves you more than you’re willing to admit.
That tendency plays out in an interesting way when it comes to sales and marketing. So many of us want to be liked so badly that we steer clear of anything that might cause us to be rejected.
But no matter how carefully you try, someone out there isn’t going to like your marketing or sales efforts. No matter how well you tiptoe around sensitive issues, someone is going to be offended or angry — and those people usually don’t hesitate to tell you about it.
Time and again, I’ve watch clients recoil in horror when they receive a call or note taking them to task for something that has made someone angry. In most cases, it’s something they never could have imagined — someone whose interpretation of a phrase or sentence is so strange that it’s completely unexpected. Unfortunately, the common response is an overreaction, eliminating whatever it was that person considered offensive.
I remember working on a major-market radio commercial that reached literally millions of listeners over several weeks. Two of those listeners found lines of that 60-second commercial offensive for reasons that still have me scratching my head, and called the president of my client company to complain. The president was horrified at getting those complaints, and immediately yanked the commercial off the air.
Let’s say that commercial reached a million people. Two people hated it. That means 999,998 people didn’t. Yet the president let those two cranky folks make the decision for everyone.
You put a great deal of time and energy into crafting your marketing and sales messages. Have confidence in them. Know going into it that someone — someone — is going to find something about those messages that will make them angry. Accept that and move past. If that person complains, thank them for expressing their concerns, but continue to stand strong.
Never let angry people determine what your message should be — and never let fear of angry people determine which actions you’ll take. Be confident in who you are and what you’re about.