7 years ago
February 21, 2017

How to Respond to a Dissatisfied Sales Customer

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

Claire McConnachie Recruiter
Claire McConnachie

It’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.  

Claire McConnachie Recruiter

Claire McConnachie

Claire has 4+ years of experience in sales and recruitment. As a Director of Client Services, her main objective is to connect great people to great companies by building strong relationships with both top clients and candidates in the sales industry. She specializes in sales roles of all seniority levels for both enterprise and start-up clients North American wide. When Claire isn't networking with top talent, she enjoys being outdoors, traveling and spending time with friends & family.