Difficult Customers

If you've been in sales for any length of time you would have run across a "difficult customer".

What do you do when you run across difficult customers?

Well, first of all I could easily question whether there is such a thing as a difficult customer or whether it's just a case of the salesperson being an inflexible communicator.

In my opinion, the best thing to do with a "difficult customer" is to 
Then be prepared to try something new, perhaps even outrageous if you need to snap them out of the state of mind they are in.

When I hear other salespeople complaining about problem customers I often hear things like,
"Everyone else sees the benefit of our product, why can't he?
I went through the same presentation I gave everyone else but he's just dumb or something."

You see, the answer is in the above paragraph.

Perhaps a quote can explain what I'm trying to say?

"He that is good with a hammer assumes everything is a nail."

Many salespeople have some success with a certain approach and then assume that approach will work with everyone. 
I did it myself.

I remember the first big sale I made. 
(In fact, I discussed it in Persuasion Articles #17 and #18, which you can read in the back issues on my website.) 
After that I had the opportunity to bag another big deal with another prospect. 
One of the key components of my first big sale was organising consignment stock for the client.
Not surprisingly, I had put together a deal that also included con stock for the new prospect but he was disinterested.
I thought I'd put together a great offer for him. 
I was confused.

Then I spoke to the national marketing manager for my firm and he said,
" Greg, con stock may not be of any use to him.
Remember, you need to find out what the customer wants.
Duurrrh. I knew that, but why wasn't I doing that?

You see, I'd become good with a hammer. 
Consignment stock was my hammer.

I live near the ocean these days and spend some time with some guys in a local fishing club. 
(I don't fish by the way.) 
And their talk often revolves around what bait they are using to catch what fish. 
It seems that not only do different species of fish have different favourite food but even the fish can change their preference at different times of the year.

Now think about it.
I thought I'd offered a good deal to my new prospect way back then. 
It seemed good to me. 
But I like Indian food and Italian food and Thai food, how many fish do you think I'd catch with that? 
Fish eat worms and flies, yuk!
Maybe you think fishing is not a good example?

Well, allow me to be sexist.
I'm a male and you know what, flowers mean next to nothing to me. 
Give me a good football game, some beer and a meat pie any day and I'll be as happy as a pig in a trough 
(not really, I'm using a bit of poetic license here).
Now, how far would I have got if I had tied to woo my wife by taking her to the footy for beer and pies? 
But when I bought her flowers….

I'm sure you get it.
Get out of your own head and into your prospect's. 
Find out what's important to them.

If you need help doing that take a look at YSS back issues #3 and #4.
If you still need help, feel freeto contact me for some sales coaching.

In case you're wondering about the big prospect I was chasing.
Yes, we did get the business. 
No, consignment stock was not part of the successful offer.
We got that business by reducing the payment terms we were offering from 60 days to 7 days thus cutting our costs and price to the bone.
You see, what was important to the first buyer was keeping his stock levels down to help his company's cash flow.
The second buyer wasn't as concerned with cash flow; he wanted lower raw material costs to boost his company's profitability.

LOOK, LISTEN and stay flexible.

Here's to YourSalesSuccess.

Click here for an article that follows on from Persuasion article No31.