Help! My Customer is (Acting Like) An Asshole!

First, I want to preface this by saying that the term “asshole” may not be appropriate, which is a something I hope to get across below. In today’s clickbait, read the title and assume the content era, you can never be too careful. With that being said, all salespeople will have situations where they feel like they are in an abusive relationship with a potential customer. It’s important to understand that there may be a lot more going on behind the scenes. When you understand the true situation, you should be able to overcome anything.

There are many reasons why a person can act rude to a seller. For some it is a true power trip. For others, they might have had bad experiences with bad salespeople in the past. There may also be something major going on in the person’s personal or professional life which has them in a bad mood. While all of these reasons are understandable, there is also the possibility that the person is just truly an asshole. I hate to say it, but these people exist. If you need further proof, view the comments section of a political article on yahoo news.

Sales is about a buyer and a seller coming together to agree on a solution which is mutually beneficial (revenue for the seller and a positive business outcome for the buyer). If you can keep the conversation focused on this and deflect whatever is pissing the buyer off, you should be able to forge a good path forward. Here are a few additional tips for getting things back on track.

Call the person out in a very polite manner. A few suggestions are, “I’m sorry. You seem a little upset with me. Did I do something to offend you?” or “Let’s take a break from this conversation and discuss what has you so upset. I very much want to earn your business, but if you are mad at something I have done or said, I want to resolve this first”

Most people don’t realize they are such assholes and when it is pointed out, they tend to back off.

If the person continues to be abusive, you can also push back. This is risky and may cost you the deal, but nobody has the right to treat you poorly. As with the tactic above, many times people will react positively to this and will be a lot more positive going forward.

There is no silver bullet or magic solution to dealing with abusive customers, but talking through it and being respectful is the best, most time-tested approach. If at the end of the day, you have practiced extreme patience and empathy, and you are still getting a lot of abuse and flack from them, you always have the option of walking away.