How to Deal with Difficult Prospects: 8 Tips for Success

Today, I’d like to share some helpful tips about how to deal with difficult prospects. These are valuable lessons I have learned from the School of Hard Knocks during the past 19+ years in the sales, network marketing, and entrepreneurial fields.

How to Deal with Difficult Prospects

How to Deal with Difficult Prospects

As you talk to people about your business opportunity or products, you are bound to stumble across some people who are quite difficult to deal with. Either they have a bad personality, an attitude problem, or they are annoyed by your interruption. The tips you see below will help you ease the situation and convert some of these difficult prospects into enthusiastic customers.

# 1: Sometimes Difficult Prospects Are Good Prospects

First and foremost, don’t think of every “difficult” prospect as bad.

From personal experience, I can tell you that many of the “difficult prospects” I’ve dealt with were great prospects. They just had an abrasive personality or a protective outer shell you must break through first before you can complete the sales transaction.

While difficult personalities turn some people off, and might intimidate some salespeople, I’ve found these types of prospects are often the easiest people to sell to once you understand where they are coming from.

You just need to take a different approach with them. Remain calm. Ask questions and listen to them. Make sure they feel like THEY are in control of the conversation.

Once you break through that initial sales resistance, things normally go quite smoothly.

# 2: Fire Them

If someone is a constant pain in the ass, fire them. Replace them with someone else. You don’t need their negative energy. Remember, you don’t need everyone.

If you’ve spent a lot of time with a prospect, and they are still difficult, or a thorn in your side, let them go. Release that negative energy. You would better off using your time talking with someone else.

To be a healthy entrepreneur, you need to have healthy boundaries. This means saying no, being firm, communicating clearly, and even breaking if off.

The best way to do this is by being professional, clear, and concise. Do not be rude, mean, or angry. But stand up for yourself and your business and recognize that not all people are going to be good prospects and customers for your company. Remember, it’s OK to have boundaries.

Source: Startup Grind

# 3: Focus on Your Target Market

If you’re finding most of your prospects are difficult to deal with or are not interested in what you are offering them, it’s probably because you’re focused on the wrong group of people.

Take some time to reevaluate your target market. Are these people in the market for what you are offering? Can they make the buying decision? Do they have the money to buy what you are selling? If not, you’re probably focused on the wrong group of people.

If you aren’t focused on a target market yet, you should be. If you are focused on a target market, and no one is buying, you might need to tweak your sales pitch or selling style.

stay calm during closing the sale

# 4: Stay Calm

One of the best salesmanship tips I learned was from Tom Hopkins. In one of his books, he taught me to “act like a lamb and sell like a lion.” In a nutshell, stay calm, cool, and collected with your prospects, especially the difficult prospects.

Be relaxed. Don’t use hype or pressure. Put your prospect at ease and make them think they are in control. I have used this strategy for many years now with GREAT success. It works.

It’s natural to feel frustrated when a prospect is giving you a hard time — but frustration will only waste your opportunity. After all, the prospect may be a bully, but he could still need what you’re selling. Don’t take anything personally, and commit to standing your ground. Keep your emotions in check and stay on track with your regular approach to closing sales.

Source: Hubspot

# 5: Prequalify Them First

When it comes to difficult prospects, make sure you have prequalified them first. Never give a sales pitch until you have identified a need, know that your product or service is a good solution to that problem, and identified the person can make a buying decision.

The reason so many prospects get annoyed is they have no desire or need for what you are selling. Had you prequalified them first, you would have prevented a lot of frustration.

# 6: Improve Your People Skills

One of the best ways to deal with difficult prospects is to improve your people skills. Become more likeable. Be friendly and non-judgmental. Read books such as How to Win Friends and Influence People. Be a better listener.

You will discover that lots of people are difficult because YOU are difficult and hard to get along with. Ouch!

When you’re so anxious to talk about how awesome your company is, you send the message that you don’t really care about your prospect or their situation.

Source: Small Business Trends

Tight lipped prospects

# 7: Warm Them Up

Your prospects need to be warmed up to you, your company, and your products. Keep in mind the average person is bombarded with sales and marketing messages daily. To them, you are just another unwanted marketing message.

However, if you can warm them up to you first, you will have fewer difficult prospects.

You can make this happen with a good follow up and selling system. This will let you communicate with them a few times before and after your initial meeting. Those “follow ups” and “touches” do a lot of the heavy work for you and PRE-SELL them on what you are offering.

The best way to do this is use a combination of direct mail, texts, phone calls, and emails via a good marketing campaign.

# 8: Try to See Things from Their Perspective

Another great way to deal with difficult prospects is to try and see things from their point of view. While you are focused on making the sale, your prospect has many other things competing for their time.

They have demands from their boss, their subordinates, their family, etc. Put yourself in their shoes. The best thing to do is never show up unexpectedly. Plan your time to meet by scheduling an appointment. Value their time and start and finish your meeting on time.

My Best Tip to Deal with Difficult Prospects

My best tip to deal with difficult prospects is to be the welcomed guest, not the uninvited pest. If you take the time to learn and master lead generation and marketing, you can automatically filter out all the bad prospects BEFORE they even get to you.

That way you only have people contacting you, when they are ready to buy, or have a few simple questions. This is how I build my business. I only talk to people who approach me first. I do this by having a solid marketing plan. By doing so, I rarely if ever, deal with a difficult prospect.


In conclusion, these are my best tips on how to deal with difficult prospects. Most of these things are easy to do and easy not to do.

By following the tips in this article, there is no doubt in my mind you will improve your relationship with your prospects and close more sales. Plus, you will have fewer difficult prospects to deal with.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think about the best way to deal with difficult prospects. I look forward to hearing from you.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
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chuck holmes


Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional (since 2002)
Author, Blogger, & Entrepreneur

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24 thoughts on “How to Deal with Difficult Prospects: 8 Tips for Success”

  1. I agree to your last paragraph, the best form is to filter them by attracting the ones that are interested in your business. I only use attraction Marketing in building my business that is why I hardly meet difficult prospects.

    1. Sometimes I do that. It just depends on the person, the situation, and what type of day I’m having. Normally, I just move on, unless I think the person has a ton of potential.

  2. In the word of Alex Cattoni, “if you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.” It is important to know your target market or ideal buyer. Some challenging prospects are not buyers, but frustrate you; it would have been avoided if you had pre-selected your target buyer. The most difficult buyers are those with scars from other transactions, as the general saying goes “once bitten twice shy”. They are ready to pay for a good service or product but are trying to ensure they don’t fall victim again. You can conveniently have them as your loyal customer when you can break through this layer by putting yourself in their shoes and having a good relationship with them.

  3. The details in the article speak volumes about the amount of research that has gone in the writing of this article. I personally found this relatable on many levels. It was only during my recent encounters that I found out that I too needed to make an effort to make the other person at ease. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of empathy and putting one’s self in the other person’s shoes to understand their perspective. Often people come off as resistant or hesitant to reciprocate as they are just trying to protect themselves, since they do not have much information about you or the situation in question. However, I’ve had my fair share of difficult prospects who were just not keen on taking the next step. There were also some instances where I preferred to just walk away from the situation for the sake of my own sanity.
    Very insightful read indeed

  4. Dealing with difficult or rude prospects is an inevitable part of owning a business and I really liked all the ways which you described in this article. I do agree that firing them shouldn’t be the automatic response to difficult prospects. We should try to put ourselves in their shoes and then try to understand their issue. However, if you still can’t comprehend their problem, firing them might be the only option. Constant revaluation of your target market is also a great point which you mentioned as it helps you stay relevant in the industry and allow you to better address the problems of the audience. Lastly, it also helps you identify the current needs and wants of your target market.

  5. This article does not only apply to the situations in a professional landscape, they are applicable in our real lives as well. For me, the most valuable takeaway from this read is to get away from negative energy of people. It can have negative consequences on your life as well. I believe it is always important to realize your self-worth when you are dealing with other people. Difficult or not, people will eventually treat you the way you present yourself. Empathy and staying level-headed are very important when you are dealing with individuals, particularly in a difficult situation. However, whenever you realize your efforts to woo the prospect are going in vain, it is better to step back and focus your efforts elsewhere.

  6. It’s obvious how much time and energy were invested in this article. I love the way Chuck thinks and operates. Yes, sometimes difficult prospects are the best ones to deal with. So it is smart to have a different approach to these people, let them think they are in control of a situation. If a prospect remains toxic then you fire him. It’s that simple. There are over 1-2 billion users online, so, indeed, you don’t need everybody. I found your last tip on how to deal with difficult prospects to be very useful. A solid marketing plan is a MUST to have a successful business.

    1. Glad you enjoyed my article about dealing with difficult prospects. When you have a good marketing system, you rarely get difficult prospects. That’s the true beauty of it. The system sifts and sorts your prospects and weeds out the bad ones, which saves you time, money, and energy.

  7. I really like your final best tip to deal with difficult prospects, because this way you can considerably reduce the number by just developing a solid marketing plan that attracts interested people to you and not the other way around.
    Even if you deal with some difficult prospects you need to make them believe that they are in charge and also to seek a non-invasive approach to not bombard them like daily life marketing does.
    The key is to stay calm and cool specially with the difficult ones and if they are impossible to deal with, just fire them. Always seek for positive energy.

    1. Yes, if you have a good marketing plan, you will attract the right people, get rid of the wrong people, and have fewer difficult prospects to deal with.

      And staying calm when talking with difficult people is the best thing to do. Do not let them get your goat or be tempted to react with anger. In many cases, that’s what they want or expect you to do.

  8. This post, of course, serves the “how to deal with difficult prospects” question. I learned a lot of tips and suggestions from this post. However, I feel like this post is more than that. I feel like these tips are practical and applicable to our lives too. When we have negative energy around us, it gets challenging to lead an everyday, productive life. So I think as much as this post helps me understand difficult prospects, it’s also helpful to lead a better life.

    And, I’ve been contemplating whether to read “How to win friends and influence people,” so after reading your post, I feel like giving it a read. I would suggest anyone who wants to run a business or runs a business to read this blog. You’re going to benefit from this regardless of the type of business you run.

    1. You should definitely read that book. I try to read it at least once a year.

      I’ve also found that removing the negative people from your life is vitally important. If someone is always bringing you down, or always complaining, do you really want to spend time with them? You would be much better off surrounding yourself with people who encourage and uplift you.

  9. I like to think of difficult prospects and customers as a learning experience. Try to learn from each experience on what you can say and do better, in your business, to improve your customer experience. Keep in mind, some people can never be pleased, but you can learn from everyone.

    1. Great point. We can learn from every customer and prospect, especially from the difficult ones. Sometimes just one or two small changes in what we say or do can have a 10x or 20x effect on our business or selling process.

  10. This article helped me a lot. I’ve dealt with difficult people from time to time. It’s easier just to let them go and move on. It’s not worth having the negative energy in your life.

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