Print full article

Swimming with the sharks: Selling a demanding customer

By Brian Barfield

66178729-mainLast time, I shared with you three ways to successfully sell a ‘guarded’ customer. We now turn our attention to selling the ‘demanding’ customer.

Of the four customer types I’ve outlined previously, the demanding customer is often the most feared to sell. If you have neither the proper skills nor understanding, these clients can potentially make the selling process very difficult. It is the negative experiences we have with demanding customers that triggers many sales associates to start selling with their guard up. In essence, they lose sight that this is a customer and their business is very important, focusing instead on protecting themselves. This is an area where so many miss the opportunity to build up their client base. If only they understood these customers better, they would find 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 one who is adamant about paying a specific price and will not back down. They may also 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 as to what defines a demanding customer is lengthy. The one common trait among them all, however, is control. They must feel in control as you are selling them, or else the negative traits begin to manifest.

So how do we understand such a customer? I like to take situations in life and apply them to the sales floor. 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 afflict serious injury or death. We read articles about shark attacks or watch the movie, Jaws, and suddenly fear is attached to all sharks—it becomes natural instinct to avoid these creatures. This is how many sales associates can react to a demanding customer.

You May Also Like  Vicenzaoro Dubai: Middle East jewellery hub welcomes inaugural event

Over the years, we have learned sharks are not to be feared, but rather respected. This is the first key to selling a demanding customer. If you give them the proper respect, they allow you to enter their environment. We have all watched television shows where a diver enters the water with 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. Just like feeding a shark, compliments can satisfy a demanding customer’s appetite; they 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 is one of the most important and one I touched on above. Selling a demanding customer is all about control. Make sure your demanding customer feels they are in control at all times. If they sense you trying to nudge them in a certain direction, you will most certainly get a negative reaction when they are not compliant. Let the demanding customer show you where they want to go. If it is somewhere you feel uncomfortable, do not be afraid to seize the opportunity. Most of the time, they will take you straight to the close and everyone is happy.

These are just a few ways to be more effective when selling to a demanding customer. If you respect them, compliment them, and do not control them, you will be on your way to success.

Next time, we will focus on the ‘analytical’ customer. I promise you will not want to miss it.

You May Also Like  In the public eye: What to know before hiring a public relations firm

This article is based on the book, “Modern Day Selling: Unlocking your Hidden Potential,” by Brian Barfield. For more information, visit his website at or e-mail him at


Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published.