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5 Negotiation Skills To Communicate With Difficult Customers


by Calum Coburn, Director & Vice President at The Negotiation Experts

When it comes to closing a deal or getting a new contract signed off, it’s your negotiation skills that will make the difference. By learning the following five key negotiating skills, you’ll be able to deal with even the most difficult customer with ease.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

1. Listen to What Your Customer is Saying.

No book on sales negotiation training should start without this simple piece of advice. In fact, if you sign up for a sales negotiation course, it’s likely to be the very first thing that you’re told.

When you listen to your client, you’re showing them that you are taking on board what they’re saying. It will also ensure that you don’t miss key openings/options that are available to you that you otherwise would overlook. Business is all about reaching compromises for the best interests of both parties. So how will you know your client’s position if you don’t hear them out?

2. Empathize So That Your Customer Knows You Care.

The secret to making progress in the world of business is to make lasting relationships and connections with your customers. If you sign up for a negotiating seminar, then you’ll see firsthand just how important this is.

Nobody wants to do business with someone who appears cold, distant and focused only on the bottom line. What you need to do is take the skills you learn at your next negotiation workshop and give them the personal touch. That way you’ll be able to offer even the most difficult of customers an approachable and friendly face. You’d be amazed at just how far this will take you.

3. Accept What Your Customer Tells You.

When you take a negotiation class, you’ll be told that you’re not trying to win an argument. It sounds like good old common sense, but you’d be amazed at the number of people that forget this lesson. If a customer is trying to tell you something, then you not only need to listen, you also need to accept their point of view.

It’s no good hearing them and then instantly getting on the defensive and trying to refute them. That will alienate people and cause them to go elsewhere — most likely to your nearest competitor. Take what they say on board, show how you can help, and move forward constructively and productively.

4. Respect Your Customers by Treating them as Individuals.

Nobody wants to be treated as a number or just another customer. Everyone is an individual with a unique set of skills, tastes, and opinions. By realising that, you’ll find you can consistently make a lasting connection with even the most tricky of customers.

If someone is putting your services down or arguing vehemently about price, then just take a step back. The worst thing that you can do is lose your composure and show a lack of respect to your customer. All that will do is show them that you’re not the sort of person they should be doing business with after all.

Treat everyone with dignity and respect, keep personal sentiments at bay, and stay professional at all times.

5. Negotiate Honestly and Openly.

It doesn’t matter how difficult you view a particular customer to be; you still need to be open and honest with them. Try and put yourself in the same mindset you have when you help a distressed client. You talk them through their options and explain openly and honestly what you can offer every step of the way.

By laying out your position, you’ll be able to gain the trust of the other party gradually. It will demonstrate that you have nothing to hide and that you’re open to doing a deal. Two things that can make all the difference when you want to turn a browser into a buyer, and a buyer into a repeat customer.


Negotiation expert Calum Coburn, Director & Vice President at The Negotiation Experts, relishes training and consulting with clients. Calum has facilitated customised negotiation training in more than 35 countries for corporate B2B clients. He is creator of the innovative Negotiation Sim.