Last updateThu, 17 May 2018 7am

Swimming with the sharks: selling a Demanding Customer


Last month I shared with you three ways to successfully sell a guarded customer. This month we turn our attention to selling the demanding customer.

Of all the four customer types, the demanding customer is often the most feared to sell. If you do not have the proper skills or understanding, these customers have the potential to make a sale very difficult.

It is the negative experiences that we have with demanding customers that causes many sales associates to start selling with their guard up. This causes the sales associate to lose sight that this is a customer and that their business is important. Instead, they 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 that they 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. They 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 the movie 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 identify a demanding customer.

Over the years we have learned that sharks are not to be feared, but rather 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 treasure 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 that they do not want to go, you will most certainly get an undesirable  reaction. Let the demanding customer show where they want to go. If it is somewhere you feel uncomfortable, then do not 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 a greater success in selling demanding customers. If you respect them, compliment them and do not control them you will be on your way to success.

For those of you wanting a deeper understanding of selling a demanding customer I encourage you to attend my training seminar. It is designed to give you all the skills and tools you will need to be successful. You will never see the demanding customer in such clarity. Next month we will focus on the analytical customer. I promise you will not want to miss it.

Brian Barfield is a trainer/senior sales consultant at The Gem Collection in Tallahassee, FL. Brian has over 17 years experience in the jewelry industry. He has had 9 years management experience as a store manager and spent the last 6 years as a million dollar sales associate. Brian has taken the knowledge he has obtained and has created a modern day road map for sales associates to find a greater success. He is also in the process of finishing his first book, “Branding Yourself to Build your Customer Base.” To find out more information and training course guidelines you can reach Brian at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via his website, www.moderndayselling.com.