Today I got a letter from an unknown accountant. I am not sure how it is for you, but in Italy nowadays an old fashion mail usually can mean only one of 3 things: bills, pizza/kebab-delivery-advertisement or birth-marriage-death announcement. Today it was none of them: this accountant was notifying me that his client, a consulting firm I used to do some work for many years ago, went bankrupt. As I did not have any pendency with them I called up the accountant firm to ask whether there was something I should check. Well the person who answered the call was really rude and annoyed by my call and my "stupid" questions. Guess what; I will never become a client or recommend them to anyone. And you may promptly think: but you had no intention to become a client, you where just out for information.
Let us look at the situation: If someone is ignorant about a procedure and is asking a consultant for advice, how would you call him? A client!
So here is the first point: If someone calls you for advice you should treat him as a client as he might then consider about having you as a provider based on this single experience, maybe comparing it with a worst one at his current provider.
What if someone calls and is rude or annoying first? Her you have to step back and think: why is this person angry? Here you need to consider two facts:
1. Anger is always a result of frustration, generated by a sense of impotence: I get angry because I feel i can not do or influence something. This means we will not be effective in managing the potential future client if we manage his anger, which is an outcome, but we have to help him manage his impotence. This is the second point: go to the route do not deal with the effect.
2. Of course you have to deal with the anger and loosen tension in order to help your client to move from a reactive state of mind to a problem-solving oriented state of mind. In order to do so you must be aware (some would say mindful) about one single fact: your potential future client is not angry with you, but about something. So you have to make two counterintuitive actions: on one side you have to keep it professional and do not take it personal (although it might sound like it is); meanwhile you have to take it personal, but on his side and make him feel you are on the same boat with him. This can also be seen as: We are not at the centre of the world, but we like if others put us at the centre of the world. And this is the third point: people are oriented towards their own goals, not against you; so find a way to look in the same direction.
So it is not about being kind as a value, it is about business development.
As always happy about your insights, add ons and comments, Paolo