Article

Swimming with the Sharks: Selling a Demanding Customer

August 2012, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Brian Barfield - Also by this author


Last time, I shared with you three ways to successfully sell a guarded customer. Now we turn our attention to selling the demanding customer. Of the four customer types, the demanding customer is often the most feared to sell. If you do not have the proper skills, these customers have the potential to make a sale very difficult. The negative experiences we have with demanding customers cause many sales associates to start selling with their guard up and lose sight of the fact this is still a customer and their business is important. Instead, the sales associates begin to focus more on protecting themselves. This is an area where so many miss the opportunity to build up their customer base. If only they understood these customers better, they would find these people are not as dangerous as they appear.

In order to sell a demanding customer effectively, we must first understand who they are. A demanding customer could be the customer who is adamant about paying a specific price and will not back down. He also could be the interrupter who challenges everything you say. Then there is the customer who takes you on a marathon around the store, consuming all your time and energy. The list could be lengthy on what defines a demanding customer. The one common theme of all demanding customers is control. They must feel in control as you are selling them or else the negative traits will begin to manifest.

So, how do we understand such a fierce customer? I like to take situations in life and then apply them to the sales floor. Could you imagine what it would be like to swim with sharks? It must be pretty terrifying to jump into the water with a known predator that has the ability to inflict serious pain or injury. We have learned from negative encounters that this creature has the potential to be very dangerous. We read articles about shark attacks or watch a movie like “Jaws,” and suddenly a fear is attached to all sharks. It becomes a natural instinct to avoid these creatures. This is how many sales associates think of a demanding customer.

Over the years, we have learned that sharks are not to be feared, but respected. This is the first key to selling a demanding customer. If you give them respect, they will allow you to enter their environment. We have all watched television shows where a diver enters the water with many sharks swimming all around. We anticipate a negative outcome but watch with amazement as he blends right into their environment. When you replace fear with respect, special things can happen.

The next concept to help you sell a demanding customer is the power of compliments. Like feeding a shark, compliments will satisfy a demanding customer’s appetite. They will recognize you as the provider of good things and not as a threat. It is very hard for someone to be negative or mean to you when you are complimenting them and building them up. Try this little gem and watch how easy it becomes to sell a demanding customer.

The last concept I will share with you is one of the most important. Selling a demanding customer is all about control. Make sure your demanding customer feels like they are in control at all times. If they sense you trying to nudge them a certain way they do not want to go, you will most certainly get a violent reaction. Let the demanding customer show you where they want to go. If it is somewhere you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to zap them with facts and put them in their place. Most of the time, they will take you straight to the close and everyone is happy.

These are just a few ways to find greater success in selling a demanding customer. If you respect them, compliment them and avoid controlling them, you will be on your way to success. Next time, we will focus on the analytical customer. I promise you will not want to miss it.

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