Category Archives: Dealing with Male Clients Who Want More Than What’s in My Briefcase

Although quite rare, I still encounter some male clients who try to get more from me than what I’m selling. These stories explore how I choose to deal with this “special” bunch.

When To Fire A Client

Whether you’re in sales or own your own business, making the decision to fire a client may be one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make in your career.  After all, you’ve worked so hard to get the business, so why throw it away?

Well, in some cases, you may actually be losing revenue by continuing to service certain clients.  Whether it is the actual time or the energy that you invest into an account, it all adds up.  Your time and effort are worth money. If you find yourself calculating how much time you’ve invested in an account and don’t see a proportional financial return on your investment in that client, it may time to cut them loose!

The best clients are those who bring in the most revenue with minimal effort and not vice versa.  Sure there are always circumstances where you initially have to invest a lot of time and effort to get a client on board , however you have to make the call as to whether or not it is worthwhile for you to continuing to focus on that client or move on to a potentially more lucrative opportunity.

So how do you decide when to put your foot down and decide when enough is enough?

You may opt to fire your client if they:

  1. Don’t Pay their Bills

Ever heard the notorious “The cheque is in the mail”? It’s almost laughable.  Once a client’s account gets seriously behind, you have to cut them off. If they really need your product or service, they will come up with the money.

Solution: The best thing to do in this scenario is to put their account on hold and try to arrange a payment schedule. If you have to call on them in person to collect, do it.   When their account is paid in full, begin to service them again but require that pay upfront or at the time of their order. In very rare circumstances, clients may completely avoid you and in that case you have no choice but to send them to collections.

  1. Ask or Expect You to Cross any Professional or Ethical Boundaries

This could take on a variety of shapes and forms. For example, any client who asks you to do something illegal, break your company policy, lie, cheat, steal, provide sexual favours or anything else unethical in exchange for a sale.

Solution: DON’T DO IT! WALK AWAY IMMEDIATELY! Then report their behavior to your direct supervisor and explain why you will no longer have anything to do with that account. If you are a business owner, simply inform them that you do not conduct business in that manner and they will have to do business elsewhere.  If you give into these requests it may seriously harm your business, your reputation and your company’s reputation.

  1. Complain Incessantly

Every one of you reading this has encountered this sort. No matter how perfect your product or service is, they will find something wrong with it and repeatedly so.  Sure everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but when there are no mistakes made and clients routinely fuss about every little thing time and time again, it may just not be worth the aggravation in dealing with these people.  They will never be happy.

Solution: If you’re totally fed up with them, you can try referring them to your competition however in my experience that doesn’t usually work.  In spite of how apparently disappointed they are with your product or service, they’d prefer to stick around and annoy you.  If that’s the case, just ignore their fussing. Don’t feed the monster.

  1. Use You

These type of clients will drain you of all of your knowledge and resources and push you to your limit because they know you want to make the sale.  It is difficult to identify these types of clients in the early stages because quite often a client will “test you” before they decide to do business with you.  This is perfectly normal and acceptable.  If someone is serious about engaging in a long term business relationship with you and your company, they should do their due diligence and see what you and your company are all about and what kind of service you can provide.  What is not acceptable is if this “testing” behavior persists over many sales calls and they don’t give you the business.

Solution: I call them on it and say outright “Every time I see you, I provide you with a wealth of product and industry knowledge but I know you still buy mostly from my competitor.”. They usually agree and then wonder why they do so. At that point I give them an ultimatum, “If you want the knowledge and you want me to keep coming back, you have to give me the business.  Otherwise, I’m never calling on you again because I will be focusing on other clients who will actually do business with me (who happen to be your competitors). Going forward you can ask my competitor to help you with your questions.” That usually solidifies the business 99% of the time. If it doesn’t, walk away.

  1. Take Advantage of Loopholes and Con You

Ever had a client buy a promo only to return part of it so that they can get a lower volume of product at the promo price and your company didn’t figure out how to deal with that loophole?  Or buy enough product to get free shipping only to return what they didn’t actually need but rather tacked on to their order so they don’t pay freight? Or try to get credit for the same item repeatedly? There are a million examples!

Solution: Since these types usually think they are quite clever, you have to call them on it and not allow them to get away with it again.  You’ll typically be greeted with a smirk and an “I’m better than you“ attitude.  Whatever it is they conned you out of, make sure you find a way to put it on their next invoice.  If they refuse to pay, refuse to offer them product or service. Some people you just have to play hardball with.

  1. Are in Bed With the Competition

Unbeknownst to you, you may end up meeting with a client who has very close ties with your competition.  By close ties I mean a business associate, investor, family member or perhaps someone who literally does share a bed with them, not simply someone who is loyal to a company.

Solution: Once you discover this STAY AWAY!  They will funnel all of your information directly to your competitor and give them an edge on you.  They won’t buy from you and if they do, it’s only to give your product to the competition.

  1. Waste Your Time

Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between someone who has a very extensive decision making process  and who is legitimately interested in purchasing compared to someone who has nothing better to do and just wants to play games with you. Some people will even fake a deadline for when they have to purchase when they don’t have any intention of purchasing period.

Solution: Give them a deadline to purchase.  Let them know that after that date, you will be moving on and changing your focus to another product, service or clientele.  This will usually force the client to be upfront about their true intentions.

  1. Disrespect You

You may encounter a client who never listens to you because they know better. They may think they are superior to you in every way and do not respect you or your time.  These types of clients are likely to be a no-show for your meetings, repeatedly.

Solution: If this type of client behaves this way consistently and does not give you any business, move on.  I usually give it 5 attempts then move on to other prospects.  Why so many? You have to give people the benefit of the doubt.  They may be legitimately busy or preoccupied and you might not be calling on them at the best of times.  I will usually try again after 1 year. Sometimes if you wait a while and call on a business at a later time, you might get lucky and they have a new decision maker who might be easier to work with or they may have had a bad experience with your competitor and are more open to change.

I am fortunate that in my business, 99.9% of my customers are awesome to deal with!  I sincerely hope that you don’t face any of these scenarios in your professional career but if you do, make sure to stand your ground because, the customer is NOT always right.

Happy sales my friends and don’t ever do anything you don’t feel comfortable with.

Cheers,

TSW

 

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My Most Awkward and Embarrassing Sales Calls

Have you ever been on a sales call and thought to yourself, “Wow! That was awkward!”? Or “Seriously, did that just happen?!?” and wondered how you were going to redeem your professionalism?

Certainly we have all been there.  Every day on the road is a new day full of surprises: Some good, some bad and some that are just plain awkward. After all, we are all human and well, $%!# happens! These are some of my most awkward and embarrassing moments on the road.

  1. Intruder! Intruder! I’m Calling the Police!

bank robberSince I call on mobile doctors, almost half of my sales calls take place at their home office which is usually in a rural area.  One time, I had arrived at this doctors’ house before he arrived. I knocked on the door and there was no answer.  So went back into my car and proceeded to call him on his cell to see if he was going arrive soon but he did not answer.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, his wife was in the house and was in a complete panic.  She did not know I was coming and instead thought that I was some intruder who had been harassing her over the phone for the past few days.  She couldn’t see me in my car because I have tinted windows, so she assumed it was this “bad man”.  She frantically called her husband to say that she was calling the police because that “bad man” was at the house. Fortunately, she got ahold of him before she called the police and he told her that it was just little old me, the Travelling  Saleswoman who he was supposed to be meeting at the house.  He arrived shortly thereafter and informed me as to what was going on.  I met with him and his wife while she calmed down.  That sure made it hard to switch gears and focus on “selling”!

  1. Mixed Signals: The Handshake or The Kiss?

woman-rejecting-man-online-datingI had just finished a meeting with a client at a restaurant.  We walked outside into the parking lot and just as we were going to part our ways, I put my hand out for a handshake.  He went in for the handshake AND in for a face-plant of a kiss! Yikes!  I withdrew my head back so far that I lost my balance and because I was wearing heels on the icy pavement, I slipped backwards and fell flat on my ass.  I quickly got up and said goodbye and he scurried back to his vehicle.  How embarrassing! Needless to say, I never met with him again.  In my meetings that followed, I was asked about how I got my beautiful wool coat covered in salt and slush. I said I just slipped on the ice going back to my car. It wasn’t a total lie.

  1. Can You Drive Me To The Optometrist?

woman itchy eyesIt was a 3 hour drive to my first appointment of the day.  I was wearing contact lenses and my eyes were starting to feel very dry.  I had 5 minutes to spare so I stopped by a pharmacy and picked up some Visine (for red eyes), put the drops in and promptly hit the road again.  As I was driving, I noticed that my vision was slowly deteriorating.  Everything was getting really, really blurry.  I was getting quite worried but I knew that I was really close to the clinic so I continued on.  When I arrived at the clinic and met with my client, I could barely see.  I explained my situation to him and he told me (as if it was common knowledge) that Visine for red eyes is contraindicated with contact lenses because it can cause the lenses to melt on the cornea! I felt so embarrassed for not knowing that, especially because I have a background in pharmacology.  DUH!!! So I sucked up my pride and asked if someone could give me a ride to the nearest optometrist and fortunately he did.  Needless to say I didn’t do any “selling” on that call!

  1. The Jockey Swarm

horse jockeys

It was my first meeting with a veterinarian at a racetrack where I hadn’t been before.  I didn’t know exactly where the office was located in the backstretch, so I made sure to show up 10 minutes early.  In the backstretch, there must have been at least 50 jockeys.  I was immediately approached by several of them offering to help me find my way.  They led me all over the place saying things like “Oh, I think it’s right around the corner..”  and “I think he’s over here”.  They trotted me around like I was a horse getting ready to hit the track and we were going in circles.  I clearly stuck out like a sore thumb and felt as though I was walking through a boy’s locker room. Several of them came up to me asking “Are you the drug rep? Do you have samples???” to which I quickly replied, “No, I’m here to see the vet.  Where is the vets office?”.  After almost 15 minutes, one jockey FINALLY led me to the office which was literally steps away from where I had entered the main building.  DUH for me not noticing that!!!  At this point I was late for my meeting and had to explain that all of these jockeys led me astray.  I was a tad flustered by the time we actually sat down to do business!

  1. The Leg Wrestling Match Challenge

women_legwrestlingI was sitting in the waiting room of a clinic for an appointment with my client. The waiting room was quite busy and one of the doctor’s clients approached me and asked me who I was there to see.  I told her I had an appointment with Dr. D at 4pm. She threw her hands up into the air and said “Well, that’s too bad for you! I’ve been here all day and I am supposed to see Dr. D at 4pm!”, to which I replied, “This is Dr. D’s clinic, so she gets to decide who she sees first.”.  The lady didn’t like this answer so she says to me. “Screw that! How about we have a leg wrestling match and the winner gets to see her first?”.  I didn’t want to say anything too inappropriate. After all, I am a professional saleswoman right? But I couldn’t resist saying, “I’ve never had a leg wrestling match before, but lady, I’ve got really long legs so get prepared to lose!”.  At that point the doctor came out into the waiting room and said she would like to meet with me first.  I sure dodged that bullet! There definitely is a first time for everything!

  1. Countdown to Vomit Valley

HourglassAt a restaurant in YYC, I caught the Norwalk Virus.  By the time I arrived in Vancouver, I was getting quite ill. Fortunately the worst of it happened over the weekend so I didn’t have to cancel any of my appointments due to illness.  However when Monday came around I was still able to function in 1 hour bouts. It was like clockwork- precisely every hour almost on the dot, I would get sick. So I sucked it up and made it to all of my sales calls but forewarned my clients with, “Hi, I have the Norwalk virus so I won’t shake your hand.  I also only have exactly 30 minutes for our meeting because I will fall ill again and need to use the facilities in precisely 1 hour, so let’s get down to business!”  Such a lovely intro I know.  But I figured, I’d rather be honest and still be able to do my job.  My clients understood and it didn’t impact my business at all.  It just felt awkward to have to introduce myself along with the status of my gastrointestinal tract. Classy!

  1. The Match.com Déjà Vu

awkward faceAt one point I was regularly surfing Match.com.  For any of you who have ever used dating sites, you probably know that after a while you see the same faces over and over again.  So one day, I walk into a clinic where I had a meeting and I see a guy there who I’d seen several times on Match.com but who I never messaged. He had obviously recognized me as well since we both looked at each other and went “gulp”, as in “Oh God, please don’t say you saw me on Match.com!”. The doctor I was meeting with saw us exchange this awkward look in silence and asked bluntly, “Do you guys know each other?” to which we both quickly replied, “No, no”. At least my meeting wasn’t with him and he wasn’t a decision maker.  That would have been even more awkward!

  1. You’re Not My Rep, You’re the Service Tech

pink tool kitI had sold this clinic a piece of medical equipment.  Unfortunately, this device had so many problems and my company was unable to offer them a loaner or a repair service so I had no choice but to try and troubleshoot and fix it myself! As I mentioned previously, I have a pharmacology background, not one in engineering! However, using a little common sense, my little pink purse which held my tools and a voltmeter, I was able to fix it. I have to admit I was sweating profusely the entire time hoping I wasn’t going to break it!  But I didn’t.  I was quite proud of myself. The only lousy thing about it was whenever I had scheduled a sales call with the doctor, all of the staff just assumed I was the technical service rep and they took me away from the doctor to ask for help with the device! I tried time and time again to explain that I was actually the sales rep but all of that was to no avail.  I mean I always wore a suit- What tech service person shows up in a suit???? But to them, I was always, the service tech.*sigh*

Well I hope you enjoyed reading about my most awkward sales calls.  Fortunately I only have 8 in my 10 years on the road.  That’s not too shabby in my books.

I would love to hear from other sales reps about your awkward and embarrassing experiences on the road.

In the meantime, happy sales my friends and try to keep your cool, whatever happens.

 

TSW

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How to Handle Clients who Want More than What You’re Selling

 

Salespeople are expected to always conduct business in a most professional manner.  So what happens when you are faced with a client who acts unprofessionally and say, starts to flirt with you?

Whether you are a man or a woman, if you are in sales, surely this exact scenario has happened to you at least once if not several times in your career.  So what do you do?

Although it is quite well established that “sex sells”, the last thing any salesperson should ever do in a sales call is use “sex” to sell, even if your client is flirting with you. You might be thinking “Why? That is so easy?”  Well, here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t:

  1. Your client will not respect you. You are “pulling the wool over their eyes” and they will see through this.
  2. You will not likely get repeat orders. Sure, using your sex appeal may help you close that deal.  Who cares about your product anyway right? But after they receive their order, they will have second thoughts.  Just like a one night stand; you think it’s all great and fun at the time and then you wake up to what you thought was a super-hot person next to you and now that  the beer goggles are off, they look more like a dishevelled dog, who’s name you don’t even know. Don’t be surprised if they return your order.
  3. Forget about that product/service reference. So you flirted your way to close a big deal with an important client who wasn’t buying from you. Time to celebrate right? Wrong.  If another client asks them why they purchased your product, they certainly aren’t going to tell them how wonderful your product is.  Why did they buy? Do you really want your clients discussing this amongst one another?  I most certainly would not.
  4. It shows you suck at selling. But you closed that deal right? So you must be good at sales? You obviously weren’t able to effectively communicate the value of the product or service you are selling, so you had to resort to other means.  It is one thing to sell yourself as a resource to your client, but another entirely to just flirt your way through sale.  What should you do then?  Take a sales course.  Improve those sales skills and don’t stoop to that level. If that doesn’t work, perhaps it’s time to consider another career.

Fortunately, I have not been faced with this scenario very often. In the past 10 years that I have been on the road, there have only been a handful of clients who have been overly flirtatious with me.

If you ever find yourself in this type of situation, just keep in mind exactly what it is you want to accomplish.  We all want to make that sale, but if you want repeat orders, your clients will likely only do so if you have more to bring to the table.   So, whether it is your amazing product or service or your resourcefulness, make sure to sell yourself and the company you are representing the right way, a way that earns you respect so you can keep those orders coming in.

Happy Sales!

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