Most of us have been in a selling position at some point and many of us have had the displeasure of an unpleasant client or overly demanding client often, they are “hard to forget!”
I’ve learned that not demanding a deposit and payment in full prior to “giving up the goods” is a necessary evil because the only “bad clients” I’ve ever had didn’t bother to “put up or shut up.”
When you pay for something- you respect your purchase because after all, you valued it enough to buy it in the first place! How many times have you established the terms only to have them changed at closing? Writing up a bid and agreeing the terms sounds fair enough- easy enough but it isn’t. How many of ya all have orally “closed a deal” only to find the buyer now comes back with another version of the “deal?” Too many to count?
I understand and that’s why getting an agreement in writing is vital to cutting back on the unethical “shopper” who effectively attempts to “sweeten their end of the deal over and over” by poking you in the eye with that stick until you are hollering “UNCLE!”
Several months ago I met with a Bride and listed the prices of her requests for services. Months later without a deposit, the continued requests, home visits and phone calls continued with a burgeoning list! My first mistake? Not demanding a contract in writing and charging for every phone call and visit that interrupted my schedule and my life. My second mistake? Not demanding a deposit with the balance paid in full two weeks prior to the event and trusting that her stepfather would “take care of it.”
If I tell you I’m going to do something I do, my word is my honor but, understand that “there is no honor among thieves.” Thieves? That’s right I said thieves. Stealing your time and taking you away from paying clients.
I’ve been on a floor so many times “sucked in” by the needy client who cant make a decision or wants to keep altering the terms while everyone around me is closing one sale after another that I’ve lost count but, I learned the valuable lesson of “moving on.”
Today, we are going to go over when and why you should “cut loose” the problem people that make everyone’s job miserable. The emotional toll is often not worthy of your time because the “Demanding Diva” is far too needy and demanding. They are like a hungry bear that can never be satisfied, they are sharks circling and manipulating your efforts that will always need “just one more thing!”
You see the “Demanding Diva” has a stick and they will keep poking you in the eye with that stick until you jerk it right out of their hand and poke them back with it! Learn to say NO.
My twin sister, Cindy had often said “kick this one to the curb!” She can spot a problem a mile away and while I try to overcompensate and deal with the issues- I’m effectively “spinning my wheels?.” Why? Because whether I had been paid or not, I had made commitments “up front” without any commitment or consideration from the client and effectively I was so busy “trying to keep my word” that I was taken advantage of.
Cindyism was started because of the few unrealistic and demanding clients we’ve had that often never paid a deposit in the first place and continued to alter my initial oral agreement to benefit themselves without any consideration (trade or barter) or money changing hands, their list grew to such preposterous proportions that my sister often asked “are you going to say no at some point?” Cindy is always quick to give me her hilarious insights on why we need to “pull out and saddle the horses.” You see, trying to honor my word cost me emotionally and financially from the many hours spent trying to accommodate them in the hope that at some point they would finally be satisfied.
Cindy Daniel will tell you point blank that she could care less about your “story” show her the money! That’s right, my twin sister has heard so many BS stories and excuses that once she took a cowboy hat right off somebody’s head and said pass it around you’re about $200.00 short buddy! She did this with a smile but she meant it. My twin sister is the enforcer- I may be the boss but I’m often feeling sorry for these folks and falling for their story that I do care about and, it costs me money.
Thankfully, out of hundreds of events, there have been few but after this season, there will be even fewer because I’ve decided to go with my instincts from this point forward. No deposit= No Commitment.
If the client hasn’t had to put anything on the table you had better believe that this game of cards is gonna get costly. The “game changer” for me came after dealing with a client who called and emailed for 5 months with new requests or demands while promising payment would be “taken care of” after the wedding. This was a lie and, after hours and hours of demands that included arriving three hours early with my own inventory and staff as well as numerous items I purchased at her request, I was forced to file suit for theft of services.
Don’t build your business on empty promises- get a written contract or proposal that specifically outlines your commitment. A wedding officiant is there to conduct a ceremony not act as a wedding coordinator. The cost of a wedding coordinator is thousands of dollars for a damn good reason- it involves a lot more time! Holding the hand of a “needy” client takes you away from new clients or existing clients. The only way to ensure compensation is in writing because occasionally “buyers are liars!” Don’t let the minority “rain on your parade.”
Finding some degree of of not being manipulated into giving everything while receiving nothing in return can be like falling into a rattlesnake den but, you usually get a good ole “heads up” prior to the lengthy road ahead- that’s the time you need to kick the trash right off to the side and focus your talents on someone who doesn’t want the moon and the stars.
IE: Know upfront that you will never be able to please ALL of the people ALL of the time but, by focusing on the reasonable clients will give you a wealthier portfolio. Problem clients cost you time and money and also prevent you from dealing with the great clients who are easy to work with and give you the advantage of making a few bucks rather than running around trying to to “give everything away for nothing” in order to please the “Demanding Diva’s.”
Over the course of my career I wish that I had followed my gut on about twenty occasions and changed my way of dealing with problem clients by putting my foot down early in the process and making demands on them instead. When you have someone constantly calling, visiting and adding to the initial agreement in order to benefit themselves and taking away from your bottom line, you are dealing with a narcissist! A demanding and manipulative waste of your effort.
The best clients I’ve ever had allowed me to make a marginal profit because they were reasonable with me and I listened to their needs prior to “pitching them.” I knew exactly what they wanted and best of all- they were willing to pay for it!
Patience is a virtue when selling and sadly, it’s one than many of our younger salespeople cannot get a grip on. If I’m dealing with a customer in person I never take a phone call, it’s rude. The person calling didn’t bother to come into the store or make an appointment and therefore, is not a priority. The client who did is and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been cut off by a phone ringing while I’m waiting in line or, making a purchase.
Phone calls are secondary to actual customers and for all the retailers not teaching this to their salespersons- take heed. Chewing gum or ignoring a client on the sales floor seems to be a growing common occurrence these days with personal hygiene running not far behind.
When my niece Stephaney leaves for work, her shirt is crisp and white, her hair painstakingly done and her makeup carefully applied. Why? Because taking pride in your appearance is the very first thing anyone approaching you will see.
When I worked on a sales floor, I was immaculate in appearance and never wore a wrinkled suit or appeared to have just “rolled out of bed.” The sloppy person is the last salesperson I wish to deal with. They obviously care very little about whatever product they are promoting and represent this with their appearance.
Next you have the arrogant salesperson who assumes everyone walking in is far less intelligent or important than they are. Ironically, you can’t get a word in edgewise with this type and they are incapable of listening to you because they are far too busy listening to themselves.
In order to sell anything- you must be able to listen to what the customer is seeking and why it appeals to them. You can’t build “value” in a product of you are unaware why the product has enticed the client in the first place. Building value entices a better margin for you because you are promoting quality over quantity.
The Pawning Planners often thrown in “extras” for our clients because no one else within the industry does. That’s right we do more because clients realize the value in our “brand.” Free photos or loaned floral designs, chalkboards and other “extras” bring beauty to the ceremony and Joy to the client! #Win #Win.
The problem with both the sloppy or arrogant salesperson is that one doesn’t value his position enough to take pride in his appearance and the other is so haughty about themselves that everyone else is insignificant. The arrogant salesperson is easy to spot- they are well dressed and often mistaken for management because they fail to recognize or greet you they often are “busy” on a personal call or paying attention to themselves to a address you. I’ve worked with both types and while the sloppy salesperson is often lazy- the arrogant salesperson is “too good” to go look in the warehouse or, too superior to bother addressing your needs. With a “give me your money and go home attitude” both of these types of salespeople could care less what brought you into the store in the first place!
The saavy salesperson cares and asks key questions go better understand what your buying needs are, what and why you made time in your day to come in and how your purchase is going to enrich your life with durability and quality my clients “loved us” because my team exceeded our commitment.
I was the saavy salesperson and I could sell any product as long as I believed in the integrity and durability for I sold high end products and because of that, knew everything there was to know regarding why it was worth more money to the customer. The ability to order a part or replace something was vitally important in any industry I worked within, I didn’t need to “make a call” because I had superior product knowledge and therefore, knew what to do and how to get it done.
Many times I’ve stated that the rancher or farmer doesn’t have the time or need to “clean up” simply to drive into town and buy something- this is true because they are busy running a successful business that doesn’t revolve around their appearance- it is based on their skill. IE: They are good at what they do to earn a living and, you should be too!
I can’t tell you how many times a farmer strolled into Cadillac with every salesperson slack jawed at their dirty coveralls and boots unwillingly to even greet them because they assumed this person couldn’t afford to buy. This dear friends was as far from the truth as you could get and, I often sold more than one Cadillac to them too.
Don’t judge a book by its cover- open it up and read it if you are in the sales field. Personal appearance doesn’t indicate financial wealth for a buyer especially in Texas!
Salespeople are expected to be tidy- buyers aren’t. Buyers can show up in flip flops and tshirts with tattered jeans and get the same respectful greeting from me as the business attired professional because they are the buyers.
You have to like people to be an excellent salesperson and you have to believe in your product. Some of you may question this and say “oh yeah, well I don’t.” You may be selling but you aren’t breaking any quotas if you are a half hearted salesperson or, if you only care about the commission and forget the customer upon cashing your check.
I’ve witnessed this thousands of times and continue to be amazed that “cream of the crop clients” are treated as disposable while the salesperson runs off to “catch the next fish.” after all, selling isn’t “serial dating.”
The beauty of the sale is the key to your growth- you are the first and last thing the customer wil remember. Developing the ability to garner the trust of the client will never be easy- listening to the things they feel are important and valuable while building a rapport takes patience and memory skills. Why did they buy from you the first time around? What was important to them?
I can tell you what I sold someone years ago by meeting them but not remeber their name. Why? Because nearly everything I’ve ever sold was a special order. I loved customizing the frame, the fabric, the process of creativity was and still is- my speciality.
Creating a custom version of something that was never stocked on the floor took more time for delivery but, I worked with the customer to get them exactly what they wanted not what the owner “thought” they wanted and stocked the warehouse with. I like unique and creative home furnishings, clothing, jewelry and floral designs and often (95% of the time) quadrupled the sale by giving the customer what they REALLY wanted.
Wedding ceremonies can be creatively customized to include Interfaith Ceremonies for couples from different religious backgrounds. They can include many personal elements and they can be as unique as the individual. I don’t operate a “drive thru” I operate a people business with a client base so diverse that no two couples are alike.
Customer retention and satisfaction has been a part of my life for some 28 years from the hospitality industry to upscale furniture to luxury cars and jewelry to the wedding and events industry.
Any salesperson will tell you that twenty percent of customers are impossible to please and, they would be being honest. I never wasted a lot of time with an unreasonable client because I am good with people and realized early on who was worthy of my time.
On the few occasions that I “put myself out there” trying to overcome every objection, I worked harder and made far less money. At the end of it all, I often kicked myself for hanging onto that “wild horse” hoping to tame it. Demanding and unpredictable- the problem client is like a flea biting you for more and more while offering you less and less.
Problem customers, give them an inch- they will want a mile! Back when I was working for commission, I took care of my customer LONG after the sale. In fact, I still have clients from 20 years ago contact me for advice or options who value my opinion or insights.
My valuable clients are also lifelong friends and an excellent source for referral business. Customer retention isn’t easy it takes dedication and effort. Stellar salespeople realize this and work hard at retaining customer satisfaction and key components necessary to please a good customer. The problem customer will always find sine thing to complain about and unless your a magician, you will never be able to address their every need or demand- move on to the reasonable client and save yourself!
Dealing with problems long after a sale isn’t fun but, I was the dedicated salesperson because I realized my coworkers when hearing a “problem” always bumped it up to upper management or down to warranty but they were far too busy making their next sale to concern themselves with a previous client. Going the “extra mile” has been the way I live my life and I believe anyone who values their role in a sale cares about the client and addressing their needs.
Knowing everything about the product is important and being able to address any issue from warranty to delivery to reorder was my specialty- I never “bumped” a client with an issue to someone else. Quite the opposite, I handled them myself and gave them the personal attention that they deserved.
I garnered a loyal following from one industry to the next from any client that I had previously worked with. Did crazy and unexpected things happen? Yes, all the time. Did issues or problems that had nothing to do with the sale come back when a customer who couldn’t wait on delivery loaded up their own $10k worth of furniture and lost half of it on the hwy returning to the business and requesting warranty? You bet. Occasionally, accepting responsibility was difficult for the customer to “grasp.” The client who purchased a fur and burned it with a cigarette who attempted to return the damaged item was shocked that I “inspected it.” This isn’t my first rodeo and if you acted unreasonable regarding a return- my radar went on as to why.
There was once a customer who purchased a CTS-V on a rainy day in Fort Worth and drove right off the lot into the Weatherford traffic circle aka “Suicide Circle” totaling the vehicle and walked right back into my office asking if it was possible to get a replacement car? You see, once the papers were signed and the car left the lot- he owned the vehicle. Threatening to sue the dealership, this customer eventually replaced the car by purchasing a new one through me.
People can act demanding until the cows come home but, you can get far more bees with honey than you can with vinegar. My customer realized this and we custom ordered a new vehicle together without the additional horsepower that made a slippery street far more dangerous. I had tried to stall him on picking up that new car because I was well aware that it handled badly on wet roads after driving the Cadillac CTS-V at a GM Ride and Drive at Texas Motor Speedway. You see, I knew how the product handled and performed. GM made damn sure that every salesperson knew their product inside and out with continuing education classes along with mandatory Ride and Drives. GM invested in their sales force by putting the time and expense into the training and by paying the salespeople with bonus bucks for customer satisfaction surveys and sales quotas. Now, that’s the way you run a good business- you take care of your “front line.”
There have been many times in my life that I’ve walked away from a customer up front. My reasons for this are simple- if you are a jerk at the get go it will never get better. Unreasonable clients at the start are unbearable at the finish and, they will always have something new “wrong” with their purchase too. One unhappy customer will tell 10 friends of their unhappy experience. Do yourself a favor and cut em loose off the bat! I have on a handful of occasions, failed to follow my heart and spent months dealing with over the top demands wishing I would have taken a “pass” up front and early!
Last week while dealing “once again” with someone that continues to expand the list of “freebies” this Texas Twin put her foot down telling her that over the top requests and demands that roll on and on will push me to backing out of the commitment and, I meant it.
Cindy and I posted a YouTube video regarding all the reasons I cannot and will not work for FREE. When you have no consideration, the client effectively has put nothing on the table and you’re running around like a hamster in a cage trying to accommodate their needs with nothing for you on either the front end or worse, the back end.
It should be noted that neither I nor, my team have not spent years working to establish ourselves in this industry not have I spent thousands of dollars on inventory planning NOT to ever earn a living! The reason I loan items is simple, many of our clients are on a limited budget and can’t afford the “extras.” However, adding “extras” is my choice and assuredly not the clients! Problem clients don’t respond well when they are rewarded for “bad behavior.” Quite the opposite occurs- they want more, more, more. Saying no has become lost in the decade of the misconceived notion that “the customer is always right.” The truth is that occasionally, the customer is always wrong! Don’t be surprised by my blatant honesty ya all- if I weren’t a soft touch I would’ve made a lot more money by now. Dealing with Diva’s this year put me in the red while hurting my head, next season will be handled with me making the rules rather than dancing and singing around someone dictating their desires, changing their mind and making me miserable. Bridezillas suck the life out of everyone around them but more importantly, everyone working to accommodate their every “whim!”
Low cost ceremonies are paid by the client. For some reason I’ve yet been unable to ascertain, folks have been asking to “borrow” my inventory who have not retained me to officiate the ceremony, or any other service offered by Pawning Planners/Texas Twins Events. I am not in the loaning business and my inventory is used for clients PERIOD.
If you cannot afford our services, you submit your trade or trades through the website or, I visit your home with my hilarious sidekick, Cindy Daniel to ascertain whether or not the trade offer will garner a return for the investment of myself and my team.
Think about it when dealing with a client who continues to need more and more and more to “close the sale” how many quick sales did you miss playing ring around the Rosie? Too many.
Cut em lose early and focus on the key clients who will appreciate you and tell their family and friends what an honest and dedicated provider you were to them and earn the trust of the worthy clients.
Happy selling and wishing all of our connections much success in their many endeavors.
Wendy M Wortham
Comments by Wendy Wortham