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Dealing with difficult prospects

Does anyone have any good ideas on how to deal with difficult prospects. I'm talking about new prospects who for one reason or another are either grumpy or obnoxious when you first meet them.

Do you try and work with them in that state or do you try to get them to snap out of it? - by Jackie
For me, it depends on "My" mood. Seriously. Some days I bend with the wind while other days even the wind gets under my skin. :p - by SEO-LAD
Do you try and work with them in that state or do you try to get them to snap out of it?
If a customer is being a jerk I initially cut him/her some slack and kind of go with the flow while I attempt to get them to relax, release, and let go. After this initial courtesy however I let them know that I'm not here to be abused and that if they want to continue working with me they need to show some courtesy. - by AZBroker
Nobody deserves to be abused. Period. However, this doesn't give the employee a license to tee-off in return. ;) - by Jolly Roger
I'd have to say it depends on whether this is a customer (someone who has paid for my product) or a prospect. A customer has a lot more leyway. For a prospect, I just smile, say thanks--have a nice day, and hang up (or walk out). NEXT (translation: you are just a number to me, pal). There are plenty of polite people. I don't waste my time on unreasonable or disrespectful ones. - by RainMaker
I'd have to say it depends on whether this is a customer (someone who has paid for my product) or a prospect. A customer has a lot more leyway. For a prospect, I just smile, say thanks--have a nice day, and hang up (or walk out). NEXT (translation: you are just a number to me, pal). There are plenty of polite people. I don't waste my time on unreasonable or disrespectful ones.
Exactly. There are plenty of other fish in the sea. ;) - by SalesCoach
Does anyone have any good ideas on how to deal with difficult prospects.
Difficult prospects, even if you can turn them into customers, often turn into difficult customers.

I recommend to my clients that they make a list of what characteristics their ideal clients would have (pays on time, doesn't haggle on price, etc.). THEN also make a list of characteristics of "difficult" clients. Review it often! When a prospect starts displaying "difficult" characteristics, listen to that little voice that says "I don't really want to work with this person!" Say no diplomatically to their business, refer them to someone else who might fit their needs better (even if it is a competitor), and move on to brighter prospects.

NEVER, EVER, take a client just for the money. No matter how big the project, no matter how huge the payoff. In the long run, difficult clients cost more than they are worth -- and they distract you from people you can work with much more easily and pleasantly!

Peace,
Terri Z - by Terri Zwierzynski
Difficult prospects, even if you can turn them into customers, often turn into difficult customers.

I recommend to my clients that they make a list of what characteristics their ideal clients would have (pays on time, doesn't haggle on price, etc.). THEN also make a list of characteristics of "difficult" clients. Review it often! When a prospect starts displaying "difficult" characteristics, listen to that little voice that says "I don't really want to work with this person!" Say no diplomatically to their business, refer them to someone else who might fit their needs better (even if it is a competitor), and move on to brighter prospects.

NEVER, EVER, take a client just for the money. No matter how big the project, no matter how huge the payoff. In the long run, difficult clients cost more than they are worth -- and they distract you from people you can work with much more easily and pleasantly!
I could not have said it better myself. From my experience you're right on the money. ;) - by SalesGuy
Do you try and work with them in that state or do you try to get them to snap out of it?
Often, I'll work with them in that state--the grumpiness or obnoxiousness doesn't bother me.

Where I do draw the line is disrespectful behaviour. I will not tolerate it and I will not pursue the prospect. - by Gary Boye
A couple of my best friends arecussed and cantankerous grumbling about everything most of the time. They amuse me and I never fail to learn something from them. But like Gary says, If it's a prospect I'm dealing with, if I feel the conversation is moving forward or I'm just amused by it I'll keep it going anyway - if it becomes disrespectful or personally attacking I exit.

I've never had anything I'd say was a personal attack - I could have let it feel that way but I interpreted the grumbling to be the other person's confusion, not mine. But I have made quick exits from rude and disrrspectful behavior.

An example would be when I'm interrupted, then again, and when I continue once more I'm interrupted again - if I can't get it to stop it's over. Maybe I should call back - maybe not - that's a question to consider. - by MitchM
I agree about difficult prospects - just move on. I've even "fired" customers if their difficult nature didn't show up right away.

From a customer service standpoint, there's a great book called Verbal Judo written by a guy who does training for everyone from police officers to corporate managers.

It's a quick read, and if you really pay attention, can do wonders for improving skills at working with difficult people.

Kathleen - by KSA-Mktg
I personally am not interested in working with difficult customers and I let them know it. Seriously, I am not a whipping post. I'm happy to see that I'm not alone on this. ;) - by Houston
I'm in complete agreement with several others here. If a prospect appears grumpy and the "chemistry" is not right -- run, don't walk away. I've taken on customers who I knew were not a fit with my business -- because I needed the money! It always turns out that it takes more time than anticipated and more emotional energy just putting up with them!

That's why I'm in business for myself. . .so I can decide who I want to work for!

JuneVK - by JuneVK
That's why I'm in business for myself. . .so I can decide who I want to work for!

JuneVK
You said it!!:cool: - by RainMaker
If they come off rude or obnoxious, I tell them to have a great day and move on to the next prospect. Simple as that. There is no need for anyone to treat you like that and honestly, do you really want to work with people like that anyway? - by wlctrent
If they come off rude or obnoxious, I tell them to have a great day and move on to the next prospect. Simple as that. There is no need for anyone to treat you like that and honestly, do you really want to work with people like that anyway?
People who release negative energy are themselves engulfed by it. One must first stop, breathe, put themselves in their place and seek to understand the reason or triggger behind the negativity. Only then can a paridigm shift take place. Once you explore and find the cause of the negativity (the trigger), you can move forward with your purpose. You may also decide to forgo the "sale thing" for the moment and come back to it at a more appropriate time and place. Seek to be patience, understanding and tolerant. Work towards their resolve. Seek to find the cause not the effect.

michaelc. - by job ready strategist
People who release negative energy are themselves engulfed by it. One must first stop, breathe, put themselves in their place and seek to understand the reason or triggger behind the negativity. Only then can a paridigm shift take place. Once you explore and find the cause of the negativity (the trigger), you can move forward with your purpose. You may also decide to forgo the "sale thing" for the moment and come back to it at a more appropriate time and place. Seek to be patience, understanding and tolerant. Work towards their resolve. Seek to find the cause not the effect.

michaelc.
Do you see time for that in an initial sales contact? - by Agent Smith
Great morning Agent Smith,;co

We are creatures of habit. We are conditioned to respond. We are trained to act. The great news is that we can be re-conditioned, re-trained and able to create new habits. It's a mindset. Fake it till you make it. We must assess a person within seconds. Based on that assessment we decide to sell the product first or first resolve a negative situation which will increase the opportunity to sell the product. We must first seek to put the client in an environment that is condusive to his emotional success, mental stability, thereby increasing the percentage of product sales. Self-success comes from helping others succeed first. Just a thought...

michaelc. - by job ready strategist
We are creatures of habit. We are conditioned to respond. We are trained to act. The great news is that we can be re-conditioned, re-trained and able to create new habits.
michaelc.
Michael, are you referring to ourselves or are you referring to the "difficult prospects" of this topic.

If it is the former, why would another person's difficult behavour suggest, necessarily, that we have to make changes in ourselves to the point of reconditioning, re-training, or creating new habits? Why would that imply that there is something inadequate in us?

I don't mean that as a rhetorical question. I sincerely would like the thoughts behind your post. - by Gary Boye
When you're working for a large company, you ususally have to suck it up and deal w/ rude people. Not much fun, but it's reality.

Susan - by susana
Like other responses to this tricky question, my feeling is that you have to get to know the prospect a bit. Not everyone we meet is going to be like us. We usually find it harder to get on with people who aren't like us and easier to get on with people who are like us. Often someone we term as 'difficult' isn't really difficult, they're just different.

We all adopt one of four styles of behaviour as a kind of default style, one that we are most comfortable with. Often the type of people we find it hardest to get on with are those that adopt an opposite default style. We all meet our opposites day in day out, but they're probably the people we spend very little time with, maybe our difficult customers.

So by meeting the prospect's 'difficult' behaviour head on, we may be losing a potential customer.

I guess at the end of the day if you're in an industry that has more customers than product, you can be more choosy than an industry that has more product than customers. - by marky
Like other responses to this tricky question, my feeling is that you have to get to know the prospect a bit. Not everyone we meet is going to be like us. We usually find it harder to get on with people who aren't like us and easier to get on with people who are like us. Often someone we term as 'difficult' isn't really difficult, they're just different.

We all adopt one of four styles of behaviour as a kind of default style, one that we are most comfortable with. Often the type of people we find it hardest to get on with are those that adopt an opposite default style. We all meet our opposites day in day out, but they're probably the people we spend very little time with, maybe our difficult customers.

So by meeting the prospect's 'difficult' behaviour head on, we may be losing a potential customer.

I guess at the end of the day if you're in an industry that has more customers than product, you can be more choosy than an industry that has more product than customers.
Well said Marky. ;co

What are the four styles of behavior you mentioned? - by AZBroker
Michael, are you referring to ourselves or are you referring to the "difficult prospects" of this topic.

If it is the former, why would another person's difficult behavour suggest, necessarily, that we have to make changes in ourselves to the point of reconditioning, re-training, or creating new habits? Why would that imply that there is something inadequate in us?

I don't mean that as a rhetorical question. I sincerely would like the thoughts behind your post.
Great day Mr. Boye,

Thank you for your input and great question you posed.

Change is Choice.
Change for the sake of change, no.
Change for the sake to better oneself, YES.

I did not state, "imply...something inadequate in us." Those are your words.
You want to be a great sales person? Drop, for the moment the word sales, and simply be a great person to other's first.

michaelc. - by job ready strategist
Great day Mr. Boye,

Thank you for your input and great question you posed.

Change is Choice.
Change for the sake of change, no.
Change for the sake to better oneself, YES.

I did not state, "imply...something inadequate in us." Those are your words.
You want to be a great sales person? Drop, for the moment the word sales, and simply be a great person to other's first.

michaelc.
Thank you for clarifying your earlier post, Michael. I enjoy your contributions. - by Gary Boye
Thank you for clarifying your earlier post, Michael. I enjoy your contributions.
no, thank you...;bg - by job ready strategist
Azbroker

The four styles are based around the following types:

The person that always wants to be in control

The person who wants to be everyones friend and doesn't want to upset anyone

The person who is creative, has fresh ideas takes risks and has a lot of 'hunches / gut feelings'

The final one is the one that I find it hardest to communicate with - the person who is very fact based, needs to see proof of anything you may have to offer / want to sell, wants it all written down.

These different styles will usually exhibit differing verbal and non verbal clues,as to their preferred style.

You can probably think of people that you know and work with that fit each of these styles and that some are easier for you to get on with, than others. - by marky
You can probably think of people that you know and work with that fit each of these styles and that some are easier for you to get on with, than others.
Yes I can. ;bg

Do you suggest modifying, however so small, your style to better get along with the difficult customer? - by AZBroker
Azbroker

Yes. Spot on. If we make small modifications in our style we'll get along with far more people. I think most people do this to some extent anyway, we don't tend to act in exactly the same way with everyone. I act completely differtently with my friends compared to maybe how I act with my parents.
The thing is I know my friends and family pretty well, I've built up a knowledge of them over time and know what irritates them and how they like to be treated.
Customers however I don't know until I meet them, so I have to try and work them out as quickly as I can.
This speeds up the rapport building and gets us on the same wave length quicker. - by marky
If the customer is upset try this:
Please allow me to take as much responsibitly for this situation as possible. It was not my intent to upset you, but instead to talk with you about ......

I learned this in my consultive selling class and it has been extremely helpful. It normally clams the person down and they find it hard to be angry to someone being nice to them. - by smatheny
Smatheny:

You are right on mark. Difficult customers more often surface at your first meeting. There may be any number of reasons they are difficult. Maybe, they just don't like salespeople, but have to deal with them, because it's their job. Maybe they don't personally agree with the solution you are offering and have been ordered to talk with you (which is our fault for not getting to the decision maker). In any case, if they are the decision maker, you must directly confront their attitude. I would simply say; "you seem to be very upset, lets address that issue or should I come back".

In most cases the difficult person will make an apology and completely change their attitude. Or ... they will be direct and tell you if their attitude is because of you, your company or your solution. If their difficult attitude continues, there is no option, we must leave. - by Gregoire
Some terrific answers and questions here. I was taught that trying to deal with an "angry, upset or rude" customer or prospect was futile until you find out what the root cause of the condition is.

I learned years ago to simply say "I can't help noticing you seem (upset, angry,etc). Sounds to me as if somewhere along the way you've had a bad experience. Would you mind telling me what it was so I don't make the same mistake?"

First, they get to vent which will usually take all the steam out of them. If you pay attention during their discourse they will also tell you exactly what NOT TO DO in order to make them a customer?

Does it work every time? No. Nothing works 100% of the time in sales. All any of us can do is increase our probabilities for success at every opportunity. - by Masteri5
I am a customer service representative and with that said, I understand that I am here to make money by providing service. Nevertheless, there is no reason for someone to be disrespectful to another human being. Thus, I will acommodate a bad temper only to where by instict feels that I can't take any more.
Otherwise I am an angel. :-) - by tourica
Otherwise I am an angel. :-)
That's what everybody says. ;bg

Does the company you work for provide training on how to deal with difficult customers? - by Iceman
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