It doesn’t matter what you sell, every business will encounter angry and dissatisfied buyers from time to time.

Most of us don’t like dealing with frustrated or angry buyers. However, by implementing a few simple techniques, you will have an opportunity to turn that unhappy buyer into a buyer for life!

If you want repeat business and referrals from your buyers, so you need to keep them happy.

Buyers are not concerned with your internal company politics. The last thing an irate buyer wants to hear is “It’s not my responsibility”.

What buyers really want is to know that you care; that you are willing to accept responsibility and that you are going to do something about the problem.

Whoever answers the phone owns the problem!

You don’t have to sort the problem out, but you can’t fob it off either.




Once you are aware that your buyer is unhappy you need to put yourself into a “buyer- service” mindset. (Being of service).

You will have to set aside any feelings you might have that the situation isn’t your fault, or that your buyer has made a mistake, or that he or she is being unreasonable.

Remember: The buyer is always right, even when they are wrong, they are right! 

Tips for successfully managing an irate buyer.


  1. Remain calm. 

When a buyer starts shouting or being rude, there is no point in responding the same way. Control of yourself, even if the buyer’s behaviour makes you feel like shouting back at them.


  1. Don’t take it personally. 

Remember, the buyer is not angry with you, they are angry with your product or the quality of the service they have received.


  1. Never argue.

You can expect an upset buyer to express their anger and to sometimes take things too far. Your reaction may be to defend yourself, however, as a sales professional you should never argue back.


  1. Maintain your personal integrity at all times.

If the buyer is abusive, calmly interject. “I appreciate your frustration with the situation (Mr. /Mrs.) however it’s no use attacking me: I would like to help you resolve this.”


  1. Ask questions.

When they are finished with their explanation, ask for more information to establish the facts.

Listen carefully to their answers and ask more questions to get to the bottom of the problem. If you are not sure, ask again.

“So, if I understand you correctly, what you are saying is……

Show a willingness to help. Never say “I don’t know”.


  1. Actively listen.

Listen with the intent to understand the buyer’s problem and not the intent to respond defensively.

While they’re talking, don’t plan what you’re going to say next: That is not active listening!

Let the buyer talk. Let them get their problems off their chest. While they are speaking, let them know that you are listening. Say things like “I see” “Ok” etc.

Resist the urge to try and resolve the problem straight away. Also don’t jump to conclusions about what happened. Instead, let your buyer tell you their story.

This step is important because the more time a buyer spends airing their grievances, the more time they have to calm down.


  1. Repeat their concerns.

Once the buyer has had time to explain why they are upset, repeat their concerns so you are sure that you are addressing the correct issue.

“If I understand you correctly, what you are saying is …. ”.


  1. Be empathetic.

Showing empathy means that you understand their feelings.

Saying something like “I can imagine how upsetting that must have been” is a good way to phrase this.

Be patient.


  1. Apologize when appropriate.

Apologies don’t have to be seen as an admittance of guilt.

Even if the buyer’s complaint is not reasonable, if you want them to stay a buyer, you need to apologize for the problem they are experiencing.

“I’m sorry you’re not happy with our product / service. Let’s see what we can do to make things right.”

“I apologize for us not getting back to you when we said we would”.

“We owe you an apology. I understand your frustration and I will do my best to help you.”


  1. Present a solution.

Once you understand why the buyer is unhappy, you need to offer a solution.

Ask them what they feel should be done or provide your proposed answer to the problem. In most cases, that’s all buyers are looking for, someone who understands and who is prepared to help.

Don’t overcompensate for the buyer’s complaint. The solution should be fair and justifiable for both parties.

Don’t promise to fix the problem, but always promise to do what you can.

Making promises that you can’t keep could make the matter worse.


  1. Get agreement on your proposed solution.

Make sure your buyer understands what is going to be done to rectify the problem.

Even if the problem has not been totally resolved, get agreement on the proposed next steps.

Example: (Resolved):          “So, to confirm then, I will reinstate your debit order facility and the premium will go off on the 5th of each month. Is that correct?”


  1. Write down all the details of your discussion.

You should always be making notes during the discussion so that you can document all the points discussed.

Keep a record of anything that may assist others who may have to deal with the buyer in the future. (Include dates and times)


  1. Take action and follow-up.

Once you and the buyer have agreed on a solution, take action immediately.

Explain what you are going to take do to fix the problem.

Make sure that the buyer has your name and contact details. This gives them peace of mind that you are serious about helping them resolve the problem.

If you undertake to follow up with a buyer then always keep to your promise.

Breaking a promise made with an irate buyer will only make the situation worse.

Keeping in contact with irate buyers is vital!

Once the problem has been resolved, follow up with the buyer and confirm that they are happy with the outcome.


  1. Take a few minutes to calm down. 

After dealing with an irate buyer, take some “time-out.” Even if you are satisfied with how you handled the situation you will still feel some stress.

Take a short walk, get a cup of coffee or talk to a colleague.




Dealing with difficult buyers can be challenging. But if you handle the situation well, you may even be able to improve your relationship and create further opportunities.

Don’t look for excuses:

It’s somebody else’s fault, it’s the company’s fault, it’s the buyer’s fault, etc.

Look for solutions:

Step back and ask yourself: “What can I do to improve the situation?”

Be confident and be positive.

Believe in your product. Believe in your company. Believe in yourself.

If you don’t take care of your buyers, someone else will!



© 2020 Ray Patterson. All materials, images and contents contained herein are the intellectual property of Ray Patterson and may not be copied, reproduced, distributed, displayed, adapted or modified without Ray Patterson’s express permission. Any unauthorized copying, reproduction, distribution, display, adaptation or modification will amount to copyright infringement.