Remember, if you give up on the client, it means you gave up on yourself.Here are four strategies for dealing with impossible clients:
- Get a grip / Know your product: I have known dozens of CSMs who stress out over their dealing with customers. They worry intensively about what the customers will think of them, how they should go about the relationship, and how they will survive to the next impossible client.
Remember: worrying is useless as it wastes energy, time, and does not advance you to where you want to go.Seasoned and effective Customer Success Managers urge you to get a grip, and get your hands around the real job – to determine the need and offer solutions. And, that’s where all your efforts should go. You have a duty to self and customer to know the product or service in depth. You must like it and respect it. And, you must believe that the unique sales proposition of your department/organization beats the competition. Successful CSMs create alternative solutions that put the decision-making ball on the customer’s side of the court. It’s your job to show how the solutions map over to the client’s needs. And, having done that, it becomes the customer’s job to decide on options offered – you need to prepare each approach specifically to that customer. Otherwise, you are a just a product pusher. Only when you have your hands on the product and all its benefits and features can you customize a match for the customer’s needs. Regardless of their public behavior, they have the dots, and they need you to connect them. TIP: Avoid packaged scripts. Scripts are helpful while training. They give you a sense of structure and flow. And, they usually do provide the vocabulary you will use from time to time. But, CSMs also work hard to prepare and own presentations that anticipate objections and difficult people. So, it does help to know what behavior may be coming your way. If you can nail down that negative behavior early, you can work out a variety of approaches to those same customer needs.
- Work from the inside out: Maybe I’m being a little too spiritual and philosophical, but the negatives you sense in a client may be a reflection on what you think about yourself.
Remember: as you improve your customer’s situation, you improve your own.It’s a lesson in pro-active listening, to both the client and yourself. Yourself: Try to ask yourself some questions: what am I feeling about this client? Why am I feeling this way? What can I do from my end to change how I feel? Where am I possibly being unfair to the client? What pressures might be causing him to behave this way? How can I convince him that we’re on the same side? Is it possible that I’m bringing something unpleasant to this relationship from my own life? Is there a way I can change my perspective and in that way change the situation? The client: With more information on the customer’s point-of-view, you can manage the situation more completely and effectively. Ask the customer questions, “How did you see this in the beginning?” or “What does this look like to you now?” or “How do you see this turning out?” Listen carefully and actively, nodding your head, taking notes, and/or reiterating the client’s words. Such non-verbal clues show respect for the customer’s ideas and situation, whether you agree or not. TIP: Cutting clients off, correcting them, or telling them to calm down only aggravates an uncomfortable problem. Remember: Paying attention to a client doesn’t mean you automatically agree with them, but it does show respect – and that’s crucial for succeeding with clients. Patience, self-control, identifying your own part in the relationship, and active attention centers the situation for you. It sets up a more positive experience for you both. It opens a door to a consultative relationship, one where you can manage and negotiate solutions. Discussion and strategies will be continued in part 2 of this article. Feel free to share ideas that worked for you in this matter.