Sales Coach Christine Harrington
The Client who uses Guilt to get Discounts.

The Client who uses Guilt to get Discounts. Does this Work on You?

DO You Deal With A Bully Client?

You’d be surprised how common it is, the client who uses guilt to get discounts. Perhaps you’ve experienced this. If you haven’t, you will eventually! In this article, you'll learn the right way to deal with this AND a bully client! 

See if this sounds familiar. You’re in front of the client to have a review of their account, and he or she starts in immediately.

“I sure hope you’re here to tell me you’re giving a discount on my next order, because I’ve experienced a lot of problems with your company and as a matter fact you better be careful because your competition is trying to get my business”

Of course, this is to put you on the defense and it’s also an intimidation tactic to make you feel guilty! It seems like in every organization there’s that one person in each department who’s job is to bully people into submission. I’m not kidding. Either they’ve been given the green light to do this or they’re just not a nice person. I’ve worked with people like this and I have sold to people like this. And frankly, this is the oldest tactic in the book and don’t fall for it. It’s called guilting you into a discount.

So how do you handle the client who uses guilt to get discounts?

First, you absolutely cannot take it personally when it begins. See this for what it really is.. the client uses emotional sabotage by nitpicking, you, your product and your company.

Meet Sarah and her Client who uses Guilt to get Discounts

My coaching client, Sarah was at her wit's end trying to deal with a similar situation. Every time she did an annual review with a particular client, he turned into a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. During the year, he was pleasant and easy-going. At renewal pricing time, Sarah said he complained about every little thing. I asked if he ever brought up these issues and complaints during the year, and she said no. He always unloaded on her at renewal and would threaten to take his business elsewhere if he didn’t get the discount he wanted.

“Every year he dictates to me the price he wants, even after I explain why our price is reasonable and fair. And then he throws in, ‘Don’t forget I golf with your boss I don’t want to go to him with this but I will.’

“Have you had a discussion with your boss about this?” I asked.

“Oh sure but it seems to be the good ‘ol boys club.” Sarah sighed.

Two Problems Sarah Faces

There are two problems with this situation. First, the client knows his tactics work on Sarah and that she will cave during the account review. He skillfully turns minor issues into major deal-breakers which he then blames it all on Sarah by admonishing her, causing her to doubt her competency even though he never mentioned his concerns until the renewal drop. This is blindsiding your opponent.

The second problem is Sarah. She allows this client to get under her skin emotionally driving her into fear based decisions.

To solve both problems Sarah needs to learn to control her emotions, detach from the outcome and stop letting the fear of her client complaining to her boss rule her decisions. Then she needs to tell her bully client “no”.

Sarah was facing a renewal review with this client in a week and she was already dreading it. We role-played over and over. She learned how to say no in a professional, calm way, and how to stand her ground.

The Show-Down

When Sarah walked into the bully client’s office, she said he didn’t get up to greet her and didn’t look up as he said slowly in a tone of disgust.

“Hello Sarah.”

She replied up beat "Hi Brad, it's good to see you."

"Well Sarah, I wish I could say the same about you. Your numbers are very, very disappointing and frankly, I'm not sure how you can show your face to me right now."

Sarah didn't respond. She just sat still waiting for him to give her eye contact. She said after a long pause he tossed the renewal offer across the desk at her and said

"Didn't you get my email. I was very specific what I expected?"

"Yes, I did get your email, and I responded. Our offer is reasonable and fair." She said calmly.

"How can you say that, after all the problems your company caused me this year." Brad sneered. 

"Well, I agree with you that we have experienced some issues and I wouldn't blame you if you did leave because of those issues. Let me propose this. After we've reviewed the renewal just let me know today if you accept it or you'll be leaving us. Is that fair?"

"You mean accept it with the discount I need". Brad tried again.

"I mean accept our fair renewal price or you'll leave as a client." Sarah responded calmly.

He threw up his hands and said, "Well we don't have anything to discuss then."

And she replied staying calm, "Is that your final decision then?"

She said he motioned her with his hands for her to leave. She began walking out of his office, stop and turned back to him and said (as we practiced)

"Brad, as I asked earlier, I hope to have your decision by the end of the day. Although I would hate to lose your business, I'll understand if that is your final decision" Sarah turned and left.

So what happened here?

Instead of caving under her emotions, Sarah opened the door for an adult conversation giving Brad the opportunity to reciprocate. She didn't try to defend herself against Brad's jabs, she simply stayed neutral. Brad wasn't having a conversation, he was talking at Sarah, diminishing her with his bullying.

Now, the new Sarah said no to Brad and gave him the option of saying no as well by leaving as a client.

Brad called her the next day and accepted the renewal, He never bullied Sarah again. So what if Brad said no to the renewal offer and did leave as a client? A client like Brad isn't worth the time and money. Just my opinion.  Not all clients are good for business no matter the amount of revenue they generate. 

The Lesson When The Client Uses Guilt to Get Discounts

As I've said before, negotiating doesn't mean giving something up in order to come to an agreement. People often confuse negotiating with bargaining. Bargaining is an agreement between parties settling what each shall give and take or perform and receive in a transaction.

A Negotiation is a mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement. There's nothing in the negotiation definition that says "give or take."

If you have a bully client like Brad, it's important that you remain calm and open up negotiations, not bargaining. Bargaining is way overused in the business world and it’s often used when the person feels he or she “needs” the sale or pushed to make the sale. In an upcoming article, you’ll learn if you sell as a needy sales professional. I wouldn’t be surprised if you do. It’s not your fault because this has been taught for decades and it’s called the WIN/WIN sale. Keep your eyes out for this game-changing article. 

If you'd like more coaching on a difficult client you're struggling with, then tell me about it in the contact form below. We can set up a time to discuss how coaching can help improve your skills.

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