It’s easy to write off a difficult customer. But that’s not always the smartest move, as one rep learned. When the rep joined a new company, the rep inherited an account that no other rep wanted to handle. The account changed hands often, and with each failure, a new excuse popped up:
“The customer is unreasonable.”
“They love the competition.”
“The buyer’s on a power trip.”
“He just doesn’t like us!”
“They don’t know what they want!”
The new rep got plenty of free advice from his co-workers: “Don’t waste your time—you’ll never get any business from them. They just won’t buy from us.”
Undaunted, the rep began calling and visiting. But he approached the sale in a new way. He “sold” himself first, spending time in the customer’s offices, asking questions and getting to know the people in the trenches. He began by checking on the one small machine his company still had in the prospect’s company, making sure it was running at its best and helping workers operate it at full capacity.
As it turned out, the “ugly” account wasn’t really all that bad. The buyers were so used to being neglected or abused by reps that they welcomed the new salesperson, who approached them without a specific sale in mind. Instead, he focused on building a relationship.
Result: It wasn’t long before the rep got the call he’d been waiting for. “Drop by this week,” the customer said. “I think I’ve got a sale for you.”