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Trying Times Every once in a while, you'll meet difficult customers. Question is, are you prepared to take them on?

By Barry Farber

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you ever run into a tough customer? Of course you have;they come with the territory. But what many salespeople don'trealize is that tough customers tend to fall into four maincategories-and the sooner you learn to recognize these types, themore likely you'll be able to deal with them successfully.

  • The Know-It-All: What doknow-it-alls value most? Someone who makes them feel important byasking questions that acknowledge their experience andqualifications. You might say "You've been in thisbusiness a long time. Tell me how the business has changed over theyears. What's the greatest challenge you face now?" Thatway, you can get lots of valuable information while making themfeel appreciated. You'll also be able to offer an intelligentsolution that makes sense to them.
  • The Silent Type: These shyand reserved customers feel uncomfortable opening up to strangers.Use some common ground to break the ice and help them let theirguard down. Get more information out of them by using phrases suchas "Can you expand on that?" or "What do youmean?" Ask these customers some open-ended questions, then bequiet and let them do the talking. You could also say "If wehad to present this to others in your company, what would yousuggest we do?" When they're actively involved,they'll open up more.

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