At some point in their career, every sales professional will have to deal with a difficult client. While it is perfectly normal for a client to negotiate and demand the best from the companies/people they choose to partner with, some clients will take it much, much further. As good clients can be great friends, difficult clients can seem like a nightmare. If you deem them worth the effort it takes you and your team to maintain the professional relationship, here are a few tips to help you deal with difficult clients:
Express empathy. Remember, there could be a myriad of reasons your client is difficult. Maybe they’re stressed from the pressures of their job, or they think being boisterous is an effective negotiation tactic. Regardless the source of their sour mood, making an effort to hear them out and understand their feelings, even if you don’t necessarily know the cause, can go a long way in turning a difficult client into a valued partner.
While in-person meetings are great for establishing relationships, that’s not always an option, especially these days. Whenever possible, use videoconferencing with difficult clients over phone or email communication. You can learn a lot from body language, and eye contact helps build trust. It’s easier to be pleasant when you can see each other’s faces. Also never forget the power of a genuine smile. There is less chance for anything to be misconstrued or misunderstood, which only exacerbates a potentially bad situation.
Clarify your value proposition and refer to it often. While this is good practice with every client, take the extra time necessary with difficult clients to show how your solutions provide value. Demonstrate that you understand their concerns and reinforce how your solutions bring value over the long term.
Look for options. It is important to demonstrate you are listening and working toward a solution. By offering additional options, the client will feel like you are doing all you can to help them. While this is true for all clients, it is especially helpful when dealing with difficult clients, some of whom may just want to feel special. Going the extra mile shows your dedication as a trusted partner.
If the client is not worth the time or attention they demand, be polite, firm, and willing to walk away. As much as sales professionals need to believe in their ability to connect with others and close deals, the simple truth is not every prospect or client is a good fit. Difficult clients can drain your organization’s resources and bring down your sales team. Sometimes, walking away is your own best option.
Most clients are easy to work with and ultimately become the reason why many of us are in sales in the first place. However, an unfortunate fact of the sales profession is that a small minority will prove themselves difficult. When this happens, implement the tips above to arrive at the best possible outcome for you, you team, and your client!