I walked into the white office to see my biggest client, who was glaring at me behind his intimidating mahogany desk. He was furious that my company had increased the price of his last purchase. Higher up in the ladder, he had decided to add an additional fee to increase profits. I had to do something about the frustration that was hitting me like waves, as I sat in my cubicle, feeling almost like a child under his stern eyes.
Conflict will occur in every customer/business relationship. It’s unavoidable. It’s inevitable. If you see the positive side of each interaction, you might find that a stronger relationship is possible if you can work through the challenges with your customer.
There are two types of customers: those with genuine reasons to be upset by unmet expectations and those who use the system of “the client is always right” to their advantage. Both can be managed in a similar way to achieve the best win-win scenario. Here are my top ten sales tips for dealing with the most difficult customers.
1) Take advantage of the opportunity
You have the chance to be the hero every time conflict arises. The more vivid the emotion, the more concrete the experience will be. This is your chance to capture a photo of their impression of you and your company. It may not be your fault. However, the way you handle a frustrated customer will be something they will remember. This is not a time to waste!
This is your chance to convince them about their worth. You can quickly make them an ally if they learn from this trial that you will fight for and not against them.
2) Be willing and able to walk in high heels or flip-flops
It doesn’t matter what kind of customer you meet or what shoes they wear, it is crucial to be able to see yourself in their shoes. They should feel your concern for them and understand that you see the world from their perspective. They must believe that you understand and sympathize with them. Accept responsibility for mistakes that you made. Sometimes people just want to be heard and allowed to vent. Magic can be achieved when you combine this approach and a willing consultant who is committed to finding a mutually beneficial solution.
Listen attentively and communicate calmly
Every conflict will test your communication skills. Sometimes customers just need to vent. Let them vent. Do not interrupt them. After they are done, repeat their main points to them so they know you have heard them and understand the issue.
Be careful with the language you use. Avoid using phrases like “What’s the problem?” or “Calm down!” These will only cause more anger. Instead, explain to them that you understand their frustrations. You should thank them for bringing the matter to your attention. We are sorry that this happened to you. Offer to work with them to resolve their problem to their satisfaction.
4) Take the paper bag out and inhale.
All of us are human. Nobody likes to be blamed or yelled at by angry, unhappy people. Naturally, the natural response is to defend yourself and resist. You can use whatever anger management techniques you need to stop this response. This will make you stand out from other sales consultants.
When dealing with unhappy customers, I tried to remember that their anger at me wasn’t personal. They were usually angry at my company’s actions, and I was the unlucky target. I was not a liar.