This one is my favorite:
Undisclosed (#0021312) Manufacturer about 1 month ago Reply
(Answering for the benefit of the sales consultant finding himself/herself being heckled)
Sooner or later in your sales career you will meet Seymour. I call him that because no matter how much you give him, he always wants to "see more."
He's easy to recognize. He's usually male, and sits in the back of the room. He generally tends to lean back with his arms crossed, figuratively "blocking" you and your message. He's generally older, middle management, and thinks he is the smartest person in the room. And he's probably right. Not always, but he usually has little or no purchasing power. His only power is making you look stupid and he's really, really good at it. His questions, while technically correct, are often not pertinent to the discussion. He's trying to look smart to the audience or perhaps just being cruel to you for sport.
The best way to prepare for Seymour is what you should be doing anyway, which is to BE PREPARED. Know your stuff left and right, inside and out. Study, study, study your products, company, competitors, and industry. Get formal sales training. Don't "wing it" with your charm -- charm won't work with Seymour. And his BS detector is the best there is. You have to know your stuff.
(A side note: Any sales person who thinks they are good at "winging" a presentation only thinks so because they've never been GREAT by being prepared instead)
Assuming you are prepared, here are four ways to deal with Seymour:
- Answer his every question and concern. As his name suggests, this will be an endless effort. No matter how much you give him, Seymour will always want to SEE MORE. So don't try to answer all his questions -- there isn't enough time in the entire day. And you will never get anywhere by "getting back" to him later. He's usually not the decision maker anyway. There is no benefit to him recommending your product, and he's worried about taking blame if he does and then your stuff doesn't work, slick.
- Beat him at his game by winning the arguments. This requires the knowledge base to counter Seymour's arguments. This likely won't work because 1) You aren't as smart as he is; and 2) You will only create an enemy who will work as hard as he can to defeat you after you leave. He can't say "yes" to your product but he sure as heck can get other people to say "no" after you leave.
- Embarrass him. After one of his more damaging questions/comments, announce that you feel like you are on a game show. Address him as Alex Trebek for the rest of the presentation. If the rest of the audience doesn't like him, they will laugh at his expense and shut him up, but you will have created a really smart enemy. Not cool. Worse, they could rally to his assistance as one of their own and turn on you en masse. Also not cool. Yet another way was mentioned earlier in this thread. After you leave, complain to his superiors about how "toxic" his presence was and earn a really smart enemy for the rest of your career.
- Recruit him. Join forces with him. Give him what he wants, which is recognition. Acknowledge, sincerely, his expertise and get him on your side. This is easier than it sounds -- it's where he wants to go anyway. Grab one of his comments that suits you and respond with something like:
"That's exactly right, Mr. Seymour, and (then continue your message)."
"I'm so glad you brought that up, Mr. Seymour, because most people in this industry don't understand what you just said. Can you repeat that, because I think you explained it very well." Let him talk. Comment on his answer and, without pausing, segue back into your presentation.
"It's so helpful to have someone with Mr. Seymour's level of experience in the room who can help me explain a complex topic like..." (start introducing your next topic).
You won't be able to do it more than once or twice, but if Seymour throws you a curve ball you can't handle, say, "Mr. Seymour, some of our most senior developers were discussing that very item just the other day. Opinions differ, but I'm really interested in yours given your level of experience." Let him talk, compliment him on his answer, and segue back into your presentation. Chances are there is at least some part of his opinion that you can agree with and move on without giving a straight up answer (which is why you can only use this once or twice). He won't mind as he got to make his point which is what he was trying to do anyway.
When you get really, REALLY get stuck by Seymour, and you will, say something like, "That topic might be a little too advanced for this part of the presentation / this audience / the timeframe we have today. Let's talk one on one after the break." At the break, hustle out of the room to call your office and find out the answer to what he's stumped you with. Meet with him privately and thank him for his question. Deliver your answer, and without pausing for argument, ask him the favor of helping you explain some certain advanced concept when you get to that part of your presentation.
Until that topic comes up, he will no longer be paying attention to you. He will be formulating in his head what will most likely be a darn good explaination for you. Now he's working for you instead of against you. Delay the topic up until right before a break or the end of the presentation. Or otherwise limit his floor time by saying something like, "CBR versus VBR compression is tough to explain in the three minutes we have left, so I'm going to have Mr. Seymour help me out." Close him out by saying, "Well said" which it will be.
Once you acknowledge that he is the smartest guy in the room, he'll stop trying to make you look stupid. Chances are he will be actually helping you with your presentation at this point. If not, and Seymour is still making you look ignorant, it's likely one of two reasons:
- He's not heckling you; you really are ignorant.
- Seymour is a sociopath.
Assume the former. Go study and prepare for the next Seymour. You can't win them all.