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May 24, 2018

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

Know how to handle know-it-all customers

Ron Stein | 5/5/2014

You come across all kinds of people. Marketing and sales is a contact sport and your customer's temperament determines how that interaction plays out.

Some are overly analytical. Others are cheapskates. Sometimes you'll meet people that aren't risk takers and are afraid to make decisions. Once in a while you'll come across someone who's perpetually angry at the world.

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Then there's the customer who knows everything about anything. Just ask them!

You've met this person. They haven't set eyes on a topic they can't talk about. Even worse, when it comes to the types of products or service your company represents, they know exactly what needs to be done, how to solve their issues, and where the holes are in your offering. Uh-oh, that's a big problem for you and your company! 

It doesn't matter if these experts on everything don't know anything about the problem at hand, they'll still tell you how to fix it.

When these people come into your life, you probably find yourself thinking, "I wish they were someone else's customer." And, sometimes walking away is the best course of action.

Usually you get to define who you'll do business with. I promise you that the profile I've created for my ideal client absolutely does not include "know it all" as part of the description. But as a practical matter, most of the time we have to endure.

Why put up with this person that only offers up a non-stop rant on how to do your job? Well, maybe you inherited them when a good customer hired him or her as your new contact. And, since it can cost five or six times more to get a new customer as compared to keeping a current customer, we smile.

There are lots of possible reasons to stick it out. But, it doesn't have to be painful. Here are some tips to help you handle a difficult customer that's a know-it-all.

It's not personal. It may seem that that buyers like these are inferring that you don't know what you're talking about. Not so -- unless they just happen to be a true expert, but that's not what we're talking about here! They can't help themselves and many times someone like this actually feels they're helping you. Occasionally it's a genuine sense of superiority and grandiosity. But, mostly this person has a large dose of insecurity and an overwhelming need to show you how much they know. The first step is to stay calm and not take it personally.

Pick your battles. Your personal and company's experience are the real experts, yet you can't push that fact in the face of the know-it-all. Don't argue their points or attack their ideas -- deep breaths, deep breaths! Instead ask questions; "Would you tell me more?" or "What do you think the long-term results will be?". Offer an occasional compliment where you can, but nothing insincere and never put yourself down. Use humor too when appropriate. But, above all listen. Let them know that you appreciate the ideas they're offering. This allows you to save your muscle for the critical moments of the conversation.

Solve problems together. Try saying something like, "I have an idea I'd value your opinion on" which will appeal to their view of self-importance. You'll open up a two-way conversation where they just might find out that you can, in fact, help them because of what your business brings to the table. As this personal connection takes shape, you establish that no one knows everything but together problems can be solved.

Know-it-all people are completely exhausting to be around. Yet, it's important to keep in mind that these types of buyers and customers almost always represent opportunities.

Customers are people too and come with all kinds of baggage. Most of the time they are not trying to be difficult, just people that have this know-it-all quirk. So, don't get frustrated. Work with them and try to turn the situation around. Who knows, you may end up with a great customer that hangs on your every word!

How have you handled prospects or customers that think they always know best?


Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing ( and the author of the Rapid Impact Marketing & Selling Playbook. As a speaker, coach, and consultant he works with small business owners helping them to accelerate the path between their vision and the actions needed to reach, win, and keep customers. Ron is the creator of the FastPath to More Customers Now! 7-step marketing system based on more than twenty years as a successful business owner, corporate CEO, business development executive, and salesman. He is also a mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or


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