We’ve all been there. That early morning phone call, one of many, from Gary who is “on a ledge!” for the sixth time this week. It’s tough to decide whether you even have the strength to answer the phone and try to appease any new demands he’s come up with now. Sales professionals must work to create a sales strategy that enables them to convert these difficult clients into loyal fans of themselves and their businesses.
What’s the best way to handle Gary? The first step is changing how you feel about him. Nobody likes conflict, it’s hard. The thing is, the majority of your clients won’t be like Gary. When something isn’t right, clients more often than not choose to quietly take their business elsewhere. The thing is, they don’t like conflict anymore than you do! As sales professionals, we may not know there is an issue with our business, until it’s pointed out to us by a client like Gary. If Gary didn’t have a level of faith that something could be changed, he wouldn’t take the time to call you. Honor that level of loyalty by really listening to what Gary is saying, rather than dismissing him as a problem customer.
I’m sorry seems to be the hardest word to say sometimes, especially when you are getting an ear full by an angry client. Saying I’m sorry, and actually meaning it, can completely disarm the client. This paves the way for your next statement, “Thank you for bringing this to my attention, what can we do to make this right?” Chances are, what clients expect may not be as demanding as you may think. Often times, clients just want to feel that their concerns are being heard and that the company cares about what they think and what their needs are.
Finally, the best sales strategy is to have faith in your skills as a sales professional. Speaking to clients, even angry clients, in a confident manner that shows your sincere care for their business, will ultimately win over even the most difficult of clients. It’s important to change how we view difficult clients. Are they loud and complain all the time, or are they willing to communicate and care deeply about their business? No matter what, you can never change how another person is going to act. What you can change, is how you respond to that interaction. The most effective sales strategy for converting difficult clients is to never shirk away from conflict, face it head on with a positive attitude and you’re sure to come out on top!
Duane Campbell is a Global Accounts Manager for Jaroop, a web application development company that develops business intelligence, social interaction and client services for businesses. Jaroop is also the creator of the cloud based sales proposal application ClientSky, an online platform for professional service firms to generate, send and track sales proposals online. Duane can be reached at 860-357-2060 ext 302 or firstname.lastname@example.org.