How to Respond to a Dissatisfied Sales Customer

December 15, 2014 Scott Lombardi

How to Respond to a Dissatisfied Sales CustomerIt’s happened: You’ve received that angry, email, call, or walk in. Your sales customer is furious. You sent the wrong shipment, your delivery was late, your product didn’t work as expected, or you overcharged. He’s vowed never to do business with you again!

Whatever the case may be, you know that dealing with a dissatisfied sales customer is a difficult job. You’re usually not prepared for it—it’s like a dam just flooded unexpectedly and you have to scramble to fix it. You want to do your best to resolve the situation but you just don’t know what to say. However, with a little tact, you might be able to fix the problem and keep that sales customer.

Here’s how to respond to a dissatisfied sales customer.

In His Shoes

It’s easy to go on the defensive when you’re faced with an angry sales customer. Every bone in your body is telling you to fight back—to explain that it wasn’t your fault, to blame someone else, to blame him for the mix up. You absolutely without a doubt need to fight this urge. This is the last thing that will appease your sales customer. Instead of being defensive, put yourself in his shoes. Understand where he’s coming from. Focus on the customer’s feelings, not your own.


Now that you’re in an empathetic mindset, listen to your sales customer’s concerns. He wants his problems to be heard, he wants you to understand how bad you messed up, and he wants to air out his grievances. Tell him that you want to discuss the situation, let him get it out, and nod along to show him you’re actively listening and truly care about rectifying the situation. Don’t try to butt in with excuses or explanations.

Now, Repeat

To show him that you’re really listening to his concerns, play them back to him. Repeat what he’s just told you to make sure that you really understand the situation and his position on it. Use a calm, neutral tone and be objective in your statements. This will help him calm down knowing that you agree with the problem that needs to be solved.


Even if the situation wasn’t your fault at all—as the sales person, you’re the front man for the organization with this sales customer, so you need to apologize. You’re the one representing your company at this moment, so you need to be apologetic for the entire organization.

Find a Solution

There’s usually a solution to every problem. Here’s the time to present the solution you’ve come up with that could make your dissatisfied sales customer a little happier. If you aren’t sure what solution to offer, ask the customer what you can do to solve the issue. Give him the power to decide what he wants so you can please him. If his solution is impossible, at least you have a starting point for an alternative.

Take Action

Once you’ve come up with a solution, you must take action. A dissatisfied sales customer will not take kindly to an empty promise. Whatever you’ve promised him, make sure you can and will deliver on it. Give the sales customer a play-by-play of every step you’re going to take to resolve the situation immediately so he can feel like he’s in control of the situation and knows you have a plan of action to make the resolution possible.

Follow Up

Once your solution has been activated and the situation has been resolved, don’t end the conversation there. To rebuild the relationship and bring back the trust you’ve lost, follow up for the next couple of days to make sure everything is still OK. If possible, go above the sales customer’s expectations now and give him a discount on his next order, a gift certificate, or a hand-written apology to try to keep his business.  

The B2B Sales Essentials Assessment

Previous Article
How to Manage a Young Sales Team
How to Manage a Young Sales Team

Having a young sales team in business today can be extremely advantageous....

Next Article
How to Lead Sales Negotiations
How to Lead Sales Negotiations

Leading sales negotiations can be stressful for even the most seasoned...


3 Biggest Challenges Salespeople Face

First Name
Last Name
Company Name
Job Title
Thank you!
Error - something went wrong!