Rethinking your approach to the question: ‘Is the customer always right?’

An age-old question that still baffles too many businesspeople is whether the customer is always right. How you or your team members ponder this question and answer it will provide valuable insights into how your company values and treats its customers.

Is the customer always right?

Let me explore this topic, before I give a definite answer. Outlaws (game changing salespeople) carefully challenge their customers to drive change and reframe the way they see things. In doing so, they take their customers beyond their comfort zone, provided of course, that shift in view serves them: this is the mark of a truly virtuous salesperson.

In contrast, less savvy salespeople damage their employer’s brand by dismissing a valuable customer’s problem or worse turning it into a confrontation. Conclusion: The customer is always right! Translation: The customer and their unique needs, feelings and challenges matter.

Does that mean you obey every customer demand and let them lead your process? Of course not, 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.

Pushing back at a customer aggressively is called arrogance—some would also say ignorance. In contrast, genuinely listening and empathising when a client expresses their dissatisfaction and then guiding the situation towards a positive outcome is a sign of genuine wisdom.

When you understand that the customer’s feelings are primary and you remove your ego from the sales conversation—and from confronting conversations—the way you are experienced will shift from a place of ignorance to a place of pure clarity and confidence. Fighting small meaningless battles every day is not only emotionally draining, it’s unendearing. It also suggests you’re missing 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 constructive feedback on board shows you care. There’s no better gesture you can offer a customer.

“Perhaps it is better to be irresponsible and right, than to be responsible and wrong.” Winston Churchill, wartime prime minister of the United Kingdom.

This is an excerpt from Trent’s latest book OUTLAW: Fight for your Customers and Sell without Fear.


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