Are Your Customers a Pain in the Arse?

A salesperson recently told me that customers are a "pain in the arse" because they never respond, battle against the sales process, and want to pay as little as possible.

Salespeople, this isn't personal (unless you make it personal with an unprofessional approach). It's just business, and the following examples of nonconformist buying behaviour are opportunities to differentiate yourself.

 1. "Just give me the price...!"

As a buyer, there is little worse than being held to ransom for a price.

However, this question early in a sales process gives the salesperson a dilemma. The company insists a price MUST NOT be given without a "30-minute exploratory discussion" to qualify the customer and tick several boxes in the CRM (or no commission will be due). However, the buyer wants an answer, and it's straight talk or lose. The best salespeople conduct their discussions in the preferred format of the buyer, and sometimes, this requires the sales process to happen in reverse.

 

"Top salespeople sell how customers want to buy and don't force buyers into an irrelevant sales process to tick boxes (despite what your boss says!)." Click to tweet.

 

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When asked "just tell me the price", you must read the situation and answer appropriately. For example:

- Sure, give me the parameters of your deal. It won't make much sense, but there's nothing worse than waiting for a price. (Empathise with their position)
- Sure, can I just check your understanding of X, Y, Z; otherwise, it won't make much sense. (Be reasonable and set the tone)
- It's $x, can I explain why we charge that way? (Disarming and shows you are straight shooter)

Whatever the response, buyers appreciate honest, reasonable, sincere feedback. Explain the complexity of giving a premature price and adjust the sales process, ensuring they understand the problem your product solves and confirming their due diligence was focused on value, not features and benefits.

 2. " Compare yourself to your competitors..."

Ever sat in a board room and been asked to compare yourself to competitors? No one is smiling, six pairs of decision-making eyes are expectantly waiting, and you could hear a pin drop.


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"Never mention the competition" is a rule amongst professional sellers, but I wonder if the person who wrote the rule ever faced this situation? This question is a test, and it's straight talk or die. Answer it honestly and put your best foot forward.

 

"Honesty and integrity trump sales skills. This is one of the main reasons people buy people." Click to tweet.

 

It is better to be seen as an honest, straight shooter than a politician who wriggles out of difficult situations. If two products are equal in that they meet the clients’ needs, the ultimate differentiator is YOU, and customers typically choose the person who gives them straight answers.

 3. "I'm not paying that much... (despite agreeing to the value)"

Sales is about doing value-added business at a fair price, and this means working with customers who pay for your services. Seeking to maximise the ROI doesn't constitute a difficult buyer any more than we are difficult sellers for seeking the highest sale price. It’s our job to establish value and find a win:win situation.

 

"Real customers are happy to pay a premium for great service." Click to tweet.

 

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Perceiving customers as a "pain in the arse" suggests they are not behaving how we want or expect. It says more about us, as salespeople, than it does about them. We must accommodate the needs of our customers, and this applies to every aspect of our approach, from establishing value to conducting our sales processes in the manner they choose.

This all comes down to 3 skills of top salespeople:

Preparation: Learn to present your product in any situation, and ensure you can add value at each point in the customer journey.

Mindset: Care about customer needs and conduct business with honesty and integrity.

Focus on Value: By focusing on value, not behaviour, a nonconformist buyer approach and their extraneous demands become irrelevant, and the sales process is based entirely on finding the best solution.

Most sales related obstacles can be overcome by a change in perspective. The next time you face a seemingly difficult customer, take a moment to reflect on why you feel this way, what they are doing, and the part you play. These are golden opportunities to improve.

If you value this article, please share it. If you haven't yet received my 2017 research paper, it discusses the differences between selling in the UK vs. the USA, as well as how digital networks are impacting multinational businesses differently on each side of the pond. Download from the homepage.

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