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Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Avoid these 3 things your customers can't stand

July 20. 2018 2:32PM

Over the course of my 20-year career in sales and business, I've had the opportunity to interact with a lot of different types of customers.

These interactions involved customers from across industries of all types and companies of all sizes. From nonprofits to the Fortune 500, I consider myself fortunate to have been exposed to such a wide range of companies and people.

During the interactions I've had with customers over the years, I've learned a lot. And I've learned a lot because most of the time, customers will be very candid and transparent with their feedback. When someone is doing business with you, they typically aren't shy about voicing concerns or calling you out if something isn't going as expected.

We've all heard the saying that, "Customers are always right!" While this is a good mentality for all customer-facing employees to adopt and buy into, the reality is: They aren't always right, but in most situations, you absolutely have to make sure they feel that way.

I've compiled a list of the most common complaints I've heard customers make. Some of these concerns are bigger and more impactful than others, but if your customers are facing any of these issues and have these concerns, it's time for you and your company to rethink your strategy and make some major adjustments.

Price games

How many times have you heard a sales rep mention some sort of timeline or deadline for a discount to be valid? I see this a lot, and it can be painful. Salespeople will offer a discount and say that it's only valid if the purchase is made before a specific date. Or how about the sales rep who says they will go to their manager and see if they can get a bigger discount. Customers hate this. Nobody wants to go back and forth on price and play games. Be transparent with your pricing and give honest pricing up front on every deal. It doesn't mean you can't negotiate price, but do your best to avoid the gimmicks that do nothing but annoy your customers.

Revolving rep assignments

Experiencing a constant turn over of salespeople is one of the most common concerns I hear expressed by customers. If every few months, a rep leaves or moves on to a new assignment, it can be very annoying to your customers. It forces the customer to restart a relationship and in many cases, it helps the new rep learn about their business and processes.

It's not fun for anyone involved, but it definitely happens. There's no miracle solution to this issue, but one thing you can do is assign only your most tenured and stable reps to your most important accounts. This will reduce the chance that your customers will experience the revolving rep issue and likely provide a stable foundation to build on.

Not knowing their business or them

When you have long-term, strategic customers that you work with, you learn a lot about them. A lot of what you learn is acquired over the course of time as you build the partnership, but there is a lot you can learn about a client that may not be something that is discussed on a regular basis.

For example, you should know basic things about their company, like locations, competitors, recent news, executives, key initiatives and challenges their industry is facing. Most importantly, you should know as much as possible about the individuals you interact with on a regular basis. Make it a point to get to know the key players and decision makers.

Challenge yourself and your sales team to understand key aspects of their role and responsibilities. Don't forget the personal things that help strengthen the connection you have with your customers. Where do they live? What are their passions and hobbies? What do you know about their family and life outside of work?

All of these small details matter, but nothing is worse than working with a client for an extended period of time and not understanding the fundamentals of them as individuals and the business you are working with.

Christopher Thompson ( is the vice president of business development at Talient Action Group in Manchester and writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News.

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