I'm about to tread into unknown territory because no sales person wants to think about themselves not being liked. No one seeks out the uncomfortable feeling of knowing you're not wanted. The reality is we can't be liked by everyone. It's just not possible. There will always be people we just don't connect with as much with others. You know what? its ok!
What do you do when you have a customer who you just don't connect with or doesn't like you? You may have had this customer come into the business you manage or inherited the account from someone which I've personally experienced.
Not matter how much of a skilled speaker you are some people need to go through a sequence of experiences before they deem you as someone who is likeable and trustworthy.
I want to share three things I learned in hindsight from working at a London butchers at 17 years old about dealing with people who you may not connect with.
People want to know that you're credible
When I first started working with Dave at the butchers he went through two hours of introducing me to different cuts of beef, pork, lamb and you name it. I He showed me what people tend to buy, the types of people they get, how much per pound each cut of meat was and even the average amount needed for a family if they were preparing a stew and much more. I never knew then why he wanted me to know all this information until Mrs Vinnie walked in on a Wednesday morning at 10am, my first customer. The first thing she asked was "where was Dave and Andrew?" they had served her every Wednesday. She seemed quite upset and was clearly not convinced I could help. Fortunately Dave had mentioned her briefly. I said 'May I ask are you Mrs Vinnie?" she said 'Yes' and I began to share some of the things Dave had shared with me. She was starting to warm up. She mentioned she had guests coming over and wanted to prepare a beef stew for seven. I asked questions like do you often eat leftovers, will there be children, people staying over. Once I had the information I gave her a very specific recommendation of 5Lb of lean McMillian beef and advised cooking time, herbs and serving. She still walked away upset that Dave wasn't there but she left a tip and walked away knowing she had got what she wanted.
Rapport can take time
While working with Dave we had a huge variety of people come in, regular customers, new customers, local businesses and more. It was a pretty impressive operation that I have a huge amount of respect for today. We had a local restaurant owner who came in once a week to order our house steak and lamb chops. The owner and Dave always met each other with a big embrace and a catch up. That seemed overly friendly for a supplier relationship but that was Dave. I asked Dave what the history was and he said they used to hate each other and were once rivals. For years they avoided crossing paths until Philip who was the owner had an emergency and needed some meat for his restaurant. The only place closest to him was Dave's. He walked in to Dave's asking for Steak and pork chops. After a brief but helpful exchange they realised they had some things in common, how they like their meat, the ethics of raising cattle and much more. Overtime Philip started to come back more often just to chat and eventually began to make more orders and they soon became very good friends. Point is, we often don't know what past experiences people carry with them or the perceptions they have. Being patient, proactive and looking for common interest can start you on the path to building rapport but it may take time.
Don't sniff someone elses beef
I'd been working at the butchers for about 6 months and had a pretty good feel for the role. We had a customer named Perkins who came in once a month to pick up close to 10Lbs of beef so we enjoyed those days. Perkins was a skeptic and constantly thought something was wrong with the meat or perhaps with us. It was a Thursday and a few days after buying his regular meat he came back with a portion of it saying it wasn't fresh. We knew exactly how long, when and where our beef comes from and the likelihood of it not being fresh was very low. Me in my ignorance and lack of experience took the beef and sniffed it right in front of Perkins. Big mistake! it was immediately perceived as very disrespectful, and it wasn't something you did to really see if meat had gone bad. Dave immediately jumped in and apologised looking at me sternly. They refunded the money but asked him a few questions in the process. "Would delivery of the meat directly to you be more helpful to ensure we're keeping the integrity of the meat at top grade?" Perkins liked that Idea and service remained on track. Lesson learned don't sniff someone elses beef. If something isn't working between you and your customer. Take a step back and ask a few questions that generate responses to help you work better together.
Let me know what you take from this article in the comments below
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