How Do You Handle a Rotten Customer?
We all have had customers from hell. They lie to us. They treat us like dogs. They complain. They squeeze us for every last dollar.
So what should you do? Of course the easy (and often unrealistic) answer is to just get rid of them. But sometimes these are among your biggest and most profitable customers. So is this just the price you have to pay in order to do business with them?
Maybe. Maybe not. The first thing to understand is why the customer is so unreasonable or demanding. There are many factors that can cause a customer to become a nightmare to work with. It is possible that they have had negative experiences with other salespeople, and they assume you are all cut from the same cloth. It is possible that they are under their own pressures at work and all they are doing is transferring to you some of the stress they are experiencing. And of course it is also possible that they are simply jerks.
But before you decide how you are going to deal with a difficult customer you should definitely attempt to determine the root cause of the difficulty. Because your most productive approach will depend upon the root cause.
Is it You?
Notice how the customer
interacts with others, if that is possible. If it
appears that this person is rude, abrasive and abrupt
with everyone, then you know it isn't personal. They are
not directing their frustration at you personally - they
are directing it at the entire world. If you notice
however, that this person is kind and considerate (or
just normal and professional) with others, but harsh and
demanding when dealing with you, then you know yu have a
personal issue. Or at the very least, this person has an
issue with salespeople in general. If you know other
salespeople who call on this same person, compare notes
to determine if everyone is getting the same treatment.
Is it a Difference in Behavioral Style?
Naturally some people are more warm and friendly than others. Some are more analytical than others. Some are more engaging, more supportive, etc. so you should ask yourself if this is simply a difference in style with the tough customer.
If you determine that the root cause of the challenging customer situation is simply a difference in behavioral styles, you're in luck. Because there are many ways to bridge the gap of behavioral styles. Even just coming to an understanding that this is an expression of the individual's personality, and not a personal attack directed at you can help to make the situation more manageable.
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