The Art of Negotiation: How to Solve Conflicts with Tough Clients

Karen Dikson
5 min read
Aug 22, 2017
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The art of negotiations

Sales agents deal with difficult customers each day. Most of the time, it’s easy to handle this type of situation but sometimes you need to show some serious negotiation skills in order to avoid bigger conflicts. This is very important because of the well-known mantra that the customer is always right.

And if you keep your clients satisfied, you will earn the good reputation. Recent surveys have revealed that customer experience will become the essential brand differentiator in the next 3 years. In such circumstances, it remains crucial to teach your sales representatives how to communicate with potential buyers and how to solve conflicts through negotiations.

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Practical Guide to Negotiation Process

There's no better marketing for a company than successful brand advocates. Analysis even proved that consumer-to-consumer word of mouth marketing is two times more efficient than traditional advertising.

But if the client creates a bad impression about your products or services, it will bring you substantial loss in the long run. That’s why you need to avoid conflicts and learn how to negotiate with tough customers. So let’s see the most practical tips for the fruitful negotiations.

Pay attention and listen

The best way to make an angry customer even angrier is to neglect him. You need to pay attention and carefully listen to this client. Don’t interrupt and don’t talk until this bitter customer is finished. That’s the first step in the negotiation process.

When you listen to the customer, you show the willingness to solve the problem and set things right. It takes a lot of patience, that’s for sure. But that’s still the only way to get out of the situation smoothly. Once you have heard all remarks, you can move on to the next stages of the crisis management.

Be reasonable

Mad customers usually don’t behave too logically and you’ll have to be reasonable enough to resolve the issue. The best method is to be as objective as possible and ask the customer basic questions: What is the problem? Why and how it happened?

Michael Noblet, a Customer Support Manager from Best Essays, explained this method: “This is the so-called journalistic approach that promises to reveal all facts about the dispute. After you receive answers to all these questions, negotiations will become much more relaxed.”

For instance, if the client is giving you a hard time explaining that the product must be improved, you can tell him: “I fully agree with you. Could you be so kind to give us concrete suggestions how to do that? We really appreciate any kind of feedback from our customers!” Just stay calm and respect your clients – they will feel appreciated after this.

Non–verbal communication

During negotiations, you don’t rely only on verbal communication. You also need to pay attention to body language. Show concern and interest for the buyer through facial expression and body position. Don’t furrow your brows in an expression indicating disapproval or displeasure.

You should rather keep a peaceful look on your face and lean forward a little to show the customer that his words mean a lot to you. Keep your arms open instead of crossed as the latter position suggests anger and disapproval.

Agree with the angry guy

Sometimes there's just no way out of the dispute but to admit that your customer is absolutely right. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s true but it’s just easier to solve the conflict this way. Negotiations consist of many tricks and this one is among the most delicate.

For instance, if your client claims that the room he booked looks much better on your website, it’s hard to convince him the opposite even if the room is exactly the same. In this case, you should just let it go and say that you haven’t updated your web page for a while.

This way, you will eliminate the angry spark in your client and make him more relaxed now that he knows that he’s right. After that, all it takes is to seal the deal with a few kind words and the free round of beer.

Express compassion and empathy

Negotiations don’t serve only to solve conflicts and prove that you or your team did not make a mistake. Customers are often complaining with a good reason and in such cases, you need to address them with compassion and empathy. Walk in their shoes and try to understand what makes them so disappointed in any given situation. Doing so, you will reduce anger and calm them down.

You can confirm that your team’s mistake caused a lot of problems to the customer and suggest an appropriate solution.

For instance, sales representatives in travel agency can say something like this: “We are really sorry to book you the wrong flight. Would you like us to make a reservation for the next flight and we’ll give you the first-class tickets for free?”

This way, you will prove the credibility of your company and keep the customer satisfied. Even more, you’ll give customers a good story that they can tell their friends about, which could turn into a valuable recommendation. And according to the latest surveys, personal recommendations are the most reliable sources of information about the brand in more than 80% of cases.

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Don't be afraid of dealing with tough clients

Sales management is not about completely avoiding conflicts. It’s about negotiating your way out of the situation and leaving the clients satisfied.

Using these tips, you can make negotiations with tough clients much easier. Keep them in mind and let us know in comments if you have other useful suggestions for this kind of crisis management.

If you liked this post, we also recommend you to read 4 Types of Difficult Customers on Chat and How to Deal with Them.

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