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4 common types of difficult customers and how to handle them

There are a few approaches you can take to satisfy a demanding customer without giving them what they are really asking for.

Some customers are harder to deal with than others. Whether they are loudly yelling out at you, are especially demanding, can’t decide on anything, or are rather critical of everything, there is always a little something you can do. We’ll explore a few of the customers you might encounter in the car sales business (and nearly any other line of sales!) and what you can do to move in the right direction.

Demanding Customers

Demanding customers, in my opinion, are a bit more prevalent more recently since most dealerships have been selling around vehicle MSRP after inventory levels took a hit during the pandemic. Some customers are just truly used to hearing about discounts of $3,000 or more on cars and $8,000 or more on trucks.

That isn’t really a thing anymore.

There are a few approaches you can take to satisfy a demanding customer without giving them what they are really asking for. Our first suggestion assumes that your dealership actually has limited inventory – this might not work if your lot is actually full of vehicles: Tell them that the lack of available vehicles means that manufacturers nor dealers have to discount vehicles to get them to move. This concept, when explained to a person who owns or runs a business, might make sense.


While indecisive customers don’t tend to be brash or over the top – they have their own kind of demands as they ask for lots of assurance or simply don’t know what to choose.

These kinds of people tend to simply need to be asked a lot of specific questions to uncover hidden needs—and they need a guide. They need a real explanation about how things work in addition to some addressing potential issues. 

While people who are indecisive will take up your time, they tend to be good long-term customers if they feel confident in your ability to make them feel good about their purchases.


Some customers find a flaw with everything. Maybe they feel like it’s taking too long to get them into finance. They might not like that vehicles often no longer feature CD players. There is always something!

For people who are critical, it’s best to at least listen. In some cases, you could even tell them you’ll pass their feedback along to management or even the factory for the purpose of knowing about adjustments to be made in the future. Customers might actually present good ideas and valid concerns.

Of course, after the critical buyer comes a buyer who is a little more than critical.


Unfortunately, some people use anger, including shouting or raising their voices in an effort to get what they want. These aren’t people who just naturally talk loud, they tend to be aggressively angry too and may use some harsh words. Just like customers who might find otherwise disagreeable, they’ve been trained to do this because it tends to work for them.

The absolute most important thing to do here is to keep your cool and calmly keep going. Honestly, in the case of some kids, simply talking even quieter until they strain to hear you might help them realize they are getting loud. Some people are just like that. The second most important thing to do is listen. 

If a customer is personally insulting you or harassing you, that is an entirely different story of course.


Some customers are not easy because they have a temper. Others are not easy because they take up lots of time when the sales floor is crawling with customers. Automotive will always have an interesting mix of buyers as they deal with the emotions of spending money on transportation. We hope our guide gave you some basis for what to do next time you deal with a difficult customer.

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Ben Stewart
Ben Stewart
Ben is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News with 10 years of dealership experience in automotive marketing. Ben loves all things cars and putting together strategies that help dealerships succeed.

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