Oh, boy, we all have difficult customers. I’m going to walk you through the 10 ways to deal with these hard customers. In my book of A Mind for Sales, I talk about this; however, I separate difficult and bad customers – putting them in separate categories. Bad customers are those that have ethical issues. They have issues with integrity. Other things come into play with bad customers, not just that they’re not good people to deal with. 

Let me tell you something – bad customers are attracted to bad salespeople. When I hear a salesperson say that they have a bad customer, I ask more questions because there’s always more there. In this post / video, I am here to share specifically about difficult customers, so here we go.

1. Isolate them

You have to isolate the difficult customer. What do I mean by this? I mean that you don’t allow yourself to talk to a difficult customer minutes before you’re going to talk with your best customer, especially like five minutes before you have to negotiate a deal.

No, you isolate them. In other words, you deal with difficult customers during defined periods of time and you keep them separate from your other customers.

2. Listen

Often times, you just have to take the time to listen to a difficult customer, because they feel like they’re not being heard. It’s helpful if you just take the time to be quiet and give them your attention. Recently, I was in a situation with a company who had a difficult customer they were working with. They asked me to intervene, so I did. I wanted to help them and the difficult customer. It was very beneficial for me to intervene because the difficult customer suddenly changed their view; all I had to do was offer them a listening ear.

3. Teamwork

There may be other people in your organization that you need to get involved with just like that client of mine asked me to get involved. A difficult customer should not and does not ever have to be dealt with by a single person. Work as a team. Sometimes what makes the customer difficult are personality issues. That can be helped by just getting other people involved that have difficult personalities.

4. Price Increase

How does this deal with a difficult customer? First, if it’s a difficult customer, there’s additional work going on because of the difficulty of the relationship. Therefore, you may need to sit there and decide that you need to take a price increase because of how much money and time the extra work is costing you (and the company). Then, either one of two things will happen – either the customer says that this price increase isn’t worth it and goes elsewhere (which is fine) or they sit there and pay it. If so, at least you have additional revenue coming in to help cover the costs that you’re incurring.

5. Needs Assessment

Assess the customer’s needs by matching them up in terms of what you’re selling and what they are receiving. Sometimes a customer is difficult because they’re viewing your product / service in a different light than you are. They might be expecting outcomes that they can’t get. You see, there may have been expectations delivered in the sales process that can’t be delivered.

You have to sit there and ask yourself what the needs assessment is and line it up.

6. Competitor

There may be a competitor that you actually need to recommend to them. At the end of the day, your best objective is to maximize your ally. By doing so, you may actually maximizer the customer’s pride by being better served by another competitor. There may be another customer that can deliver better and/or faster than you. Go ahead. Turn them loose to a competitor.

7. Dropping Them is an Option

You can always drop them. Now, I’m not crazy about this, because I want to find out what I need to learn from them. However, there may come a time when you feel there’s no other option. You have to be very simple in saying something like this to them, “Hey, we can’t deliver the expectations that you want. We feel it would be better if you just went ahead and went someplace else.” And help them go from there.

8. Focus

Too many times, we only focus on what the difficult customer is looking for. By doing that, they become a difficult customer because we allow personality to come into play and the all these other issues arise.

One time, I saw a salesperson become absolutely livid, feeling like they had a difficult customer. The reason for such heightened emotions was because the customer’s favorite team was the biggest rival to the salesperson’s favorite team. The salesperson just could not get past it.

You see, you have to focus on the customer and let all the other noise fade away.

9. Your Mindset

What’s your mindset? If you come in looking for a difficult customer, most likely, you will have a difficult customer. It’s in your head. Without a doubt, it comes down to your mindset.

I remember years ago when I worked for a company within a certain territory and then all of a sudden, my manager changed it and gave me some different accounts. After a few months, I wondered why he did this, so I asked him. He said it was because so-and-so had this territory before and thought the customers in those accounts were difficult. The customer didn’t think they were difficult but actually easy to work with. The bottom line is that it all came down to the salesperson’s mindset.

10. It’s Their Loss

If a customer is difficult, it may be their loss because they’re experiencing other issues. I tell you this from a prospecting standpoint. You pick up the phone, call someone and they immediately jump you. Are they really jumping on you or do you just happen to be the person who called them right after they got jumped on by so-and-so? So just accept it as their loss.

Dealing with difficult customers happens one step at a time, just like everything else we do. It’s important to remember that our whole goal is to learn from them and move on.

Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog.  Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.


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