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Sales Consulting and Training:

Understanding Why Your Customer is Being Difficult

Have you ever faced that customer that was so difficult to deal with, you simply dreaded facing them or even placing a call? Haven’t we all”

Sales Rep: “Hello Darla, it’s Doug Brasilia over at Consoli…”

Customer: “Doug… I don’t have time right now.  I’m in the middle of a project and I have a meeting in fifteen minutes.  I’ll need to talk to you another time.  Thank you.”


Sheesh!  That kind of response can make it tough to place another call.  Yet, when faced with these situations, we have to remember that there are underlying reasons as to why customers can act difficult towards usMost people don’t simply act this way on a regular basis.  Others have that “cloudy” disposition that causes people that see them in a hallway to turn around and head the other way.

When faced with a difficult customer, it is important to think about the root causes of why they act that way. The way you deal with them may reinforce that behavior or may help turn a client to your way of thinking. Here are ten reasons customers are difficult and some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Their Expectations Have Not Been Met – Was this your fault or a previous sales rep’s fault?  What can you do to ensure that a customer’s expectations are not just met but exceeded?
  2. They are Confused or Overwhelmed – Did you just flood your customer with too much information?  Was your proposal clear?  Did you provide them what they needed or e-mail them every document ever printed by your company?
  3. They are Tired or Frustrated? – Has your customer been working long hours recently?  Have they been tied up on a difficult project?  Are they covering for someone who is out of town or simply not pulling their weight?
  4. They Have Been Treated Badly in the Past – Was the last rep a jerk?  Does your industry have a poor reputation?  Is this person very sensitive?
  5. They are in a Bad Mood and You are in their Sights – Is today the day you simply say, “not a problem… I’ll call you back tomorrow”.  Is it best to walk away from the conflict and regroup for another day?
  6. They Don’t Speak or Understand the Language Well – Is this person a foreign national?  Do they have a hard to understand accent?  Are you speaking too quickly or using difficult language?
  7. They Have Not Been in this Situation Before – Are they new to their role and don’t know how to proceed? Are they in a difficult situation and can’t handle the pressure? Are you putting too much pressure on them?
  8. They are Defending their Ego – Are they playing power games?  Do they like to make sales reps squirm?  Were they recently demoted into their current role?  Are they trying to advance by squeezing you for every penny they can?
  9. They are in a Hurry or are Tired of Waiting – Did you turn in your proposal late?  Are you asking too many questions?  Do they have a tight deadline?
  10. They have Been Ignored and Not Listened To – Do they feel alienated? Have you not returned their calls?  Are their ideas falling on deaf ears?
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