Man versus customer

“Is the customer always right?” is an age-old question that still baffles salespeople.

I’m all for carefully challenging a customer and re-framing the way they see things. In doing so, taking them beyond their comfort zone, provided, of course, it serves them; this is the mark of a truly virtuous salesperson.

What I won’t swallow are people damaging their employer’s brand by dismissing a valuable customer’s problem or, worse, turning it into a confrontation.

“The customer is always right!” Translation: The customer and their unique needs matter.

Does that mean you obey all a customer demands and let them lead your process? Of course not, try telling that to a world-class heart surgeon. But it does mean you start with the customer’s view in mind. Empathise with it; don’t dismiss it. You then add colour and shade by introducing new insights and perspectives to help them see things differently.

Negatively pushing back at a customer is called ignorance. In contrast, taking a client’s dissatisfaction and channelling it towards a positive outcome is a sign of genuine wisdom. When you understand the customer’s feelings are primary and you remove your ego from a confronting conversation — you shift from ignorance to a place of clarity and confidence.

Fighting small meaningless battles every day is not only emotionally draining, it’s unendearing. It also suggests you’re missing profound opportunities to learn about and strengthen your customer relationships. When you really listen, particularly when a customer laments their frustrations, you become humble; and a willingness to take onboard constructive feedback shows you care. There’s no better gesture you can offer a customer.

Your most demanding customers are nearly always your greatest teachers. They will draw attention to your flaws and misgivings in fine detail. If you fail to lower your guard and integrate their relevant input you will limit your ability to expand your skills and capabilities.

“All buyers are liars” is another old-school sales maxim. Translation: Customers will do and say anything to get the best deal for them. And rightly so, so don’t make it too hard for them.

Some customers will bend the truth, but usually because there’s a valid reason. To counter this, design a transparent process that provides all parties with the information to make the right decision and move forward. If customers are still demonstrating deceptive behaviour, take that as a “cue” to rethink your strategy or tweak your communication style.

Customers are not the enemy; your success relies on them. Consider your customers as part of your extended family, in that, you may not agree with them from time to time, but you always care about their best interests.

Trent Leyshan is the founder and CEO of BOOM Sales! a leading sales training and sales development specialist. He is also the creator of The NAKED Salesman, BOOMOLOGY! RetroService, and the Empathy Selling Process.

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