In my early days as a sales rep, I had a customer who only wanted to hear himself talk. After he had ranted for a while, he’d lean back in his chair and state to the heavens: “You know I’m right.” At which point I, and whoever else was sitting across the table from him, would reply: “Well, let’s also consider a different perspective.” Which would prompt another back and forth exchange of ideas in which he dominated the conversation, again leaned back in his chair, declaring his mantra that he was, of course, right. It worked every time, as he sucked folks into this behavior pattern. It was dysfunctional selling.
With so many of us recommending that you take the time to listen to customers, rather than presenting and trying to sell, what do you do when you are dealing with customers who haven’t the slightest interest in hearing anyone else speak? Other than themselves, of course.
These types of customers require you to jump through hoops and provide a tremendous amount of information to justify your product or platform – even though they have no intention of buying from you, let alone collaborating.
These types of customers view sales people as disposable and, quite frankly, entertaining. Consider the possibility that they treat all vendors the same way. Because, of course, this customer is always “right.”
These types of customers are the only ones who have solutions for their customers: they can’t possibly learn anything from you or your professional expertise. It’s really all about them.
These types of customers are everybody’s problem. Do you really want to do business with them? Do you even have to do business with them?
When you draw your personal line in your professional sand, you perceive yourself as a person of worth instead of a talking brochure on legs or a smarmy sales type.
When you draw your personal line in your professional sand, you understand the types of customers you do your best work for and with.
When you draw your personal line in your professional sand, you acknowledge your value as an A-Player and you focus on acquiring and developing relationships with A-Customers.
When you draw your personal line in your professional sand, you walk away from these types of customers. Yes, I just said that. You decide not to do business with the folks who drain your energy with their negative and condescending approach. Be assured that they have potential customers who have chosen to walk away from them as well.
Not everyone is worth doing business with.
Even if their account is part of your assigned customer base. There’s a reason these types of accounts are passed around to new reps. It’s because no one else has successfully been able to create an enduring and worthwhile relationship with these types of jerks.
What did I do as the sales newbie? Dutifully worked the account for several years before turning it back in. Yes, I grew it profitably while enduring a relationship that was completely unsatisfactory for my professional development. Yes, I documented my stellar customer service record, including all the secondary research I had provided to substantiate the recommendations I made. Even though the customer felt that nothing, after all, was “right.”
Then I walked away and did my best work with my A-Customers.
Because that was the right thing to do.
Have you ever encountered these types of customers? How did you handle the situation?