STAND UP TO CUSTOMERS – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #26

101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas

IDEA 26:


There is an old saying that if you appear to be like a doormat, you should expect people to walk all over you. Sometimes a customer relationship can feel like this. Some customers are not just demanding (aren’t they all?) but take extreme liberties that demand something that goes beyond any definition of even excellent service. Such a relationship is costly, at worst reducing or removing the profitability of the business.


Seen in a market research company in Hong Kong …

Situated in Hong Kong, this company has offices and clients around the Asian region. At one time the staffs of one of its largest clients were causing the manager they dealt with considerable problem. The clients’ disorganization was at the root of the problems. They were forever cancelling or changing meetings and demanding attendance at others at short notice. They commonly telephoned demanding that the manager rush to one of their many regional offices at a moment’s notice, with the need to travel from, say, Hong Kong to Singapore compounding the problem. This sort of situation costs time and money, and ultimately threatened the viability of a carefully coated project. Being sales and service oriented, the manager’s instinct was to respond this case this just compounded the problem.

The client was of the “give us an inch and we’ll take a mile and a half” school (aren’t they all? You may say again). Every helpful act simply made them feel that anything demanded would be responded to positively. Ultimately, if demands go up and up, something must be done. But it is question of degree. Where you draw the line? Perhaps the best answer is sooner rather than later, despite the instinct to help on each individual occasion, and the real fear that saying “No” will jeopardize the client relationship.

In this case a line was drawn. The manager said “No” to a particularly inconvenient request, and reminded the clients of the terms of the assignment. Surprise, surprise –the clients, who clearly understood what they had been doing, respected his refusal and began to act differently. Profitability returned. The client relationship was improved. More assignments were booked.

In practice

  • Sometimes the right thing to do is to stand up to customers.
  • The trick is to decide when and how powerfully you need to react.

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