Two Tips for Turning Tough Clients into Customers

Joseph Stubblebine
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Sometimes just seeing the name of one of your tough clients on your call sheet can ruin your day at work. Every salesperson has stories about difficult customers who make unreasonable demands, rant about everything that goes wrong or never make up their minds. With persistence and patience, however, you can turn those tough clients into customers who are fans of you and your company. Here are two major tips to do that.


Often when a tough client lets fly with an unjustified rant, it's easy to think that he is upset with you. It's very possible, however, that in reality he's frustrated about other areas of his life or work that are going wrong and is just taking out his personal fears and insecurities on you.

Do not respond in kind when this happens. Instead, lean back and simply listen. Make sure you really understand what your tough client is complaining about so you can respond appropriately. Ask a lot of questions and empathize where you can. Try repeating back to your customer what you think he's saying to make sure you truly understand what the problem is.

Give your difficult customer time to vent emotionally. If you don't cut him off and take the time to hear him out, you may find that he is more than willing to realize that he has indeed overreacted and is ready for a solution. If his complaints are justified, you will never keep him as a customer if you do not take the time to hear him out fully. In addition, if you let your customer finish his rant before you respond, you are less likely to allow the customer's negative emotions to affect you, making it easier for you to respond in a calm and professional manner.

Choose the Positive

When your tough client comes up with yet another complaint, it's all too easy to start to defend yourself or to focus on the negatives that the client is stressing. Instead, look for the positives. Start by thanking the customer for complaining. After all, most dissatisfied customers take their complaints to their friends, their bosses or their Facebook pages without ever doing you the favor of letting you know there's a problem. Thank your customer for giving you a chance to fix the problem. Not only is it the right thing to do, it may disarm him and stop the rant in its tracks.

Continue to focus on the positive as you respond to your tough client's complaint. Concentrate on your client's positive qualities and draw those to his attention as you turn the discussion toward solving the problem. Move as quickly as possible to the moment when you can ask your client what you do can to set things right and what it will take to make him happy.

The real test of a salesperson and his company is not what happens when a sale goes right, it's what happens when a customer is unhappy and ready to take his business elsewhere. Take time to listen to your tough clients and focus on positive attitudes and solutions, and you are on the way toward turning a difficult client into a lifelong customer.

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