Dealing with Difficult Demo Customers

Join us on Thursday, June 15, 2023 @ 9am MT 

How often do you wish you could get the silent participant to engage in your presentation? Wish you could turn the combative participant into an advocate? Hear from Solutions Consulting Senior Manager Tony Francetic on how to blend skills from Crucial Conversations into your presentation skills repertoire.

The webinar focuses on dealing with difficult demo customers, and the speaker Tony Francetic offers several insights and tips. Throughout the webinar, he emphasizes the importance of effective communication, understanding the customer’s needs, building trust and connections, and prioritizing relationships over the sale. Francetic also discusses the role of storytelling and mastering one’s thoughts when dealing with challenging conversations. Finally, he recommends having a consultative approach, being patient, and giving enough time for customers to process the information. The Q&A at the end covers topics like prioritizing customer needs, buyer enablement, and emotional regulation.


  • 00:00:00 The moderator introduces the speaker, Tony Francetic, who is the Senior Manager of Solutions Consulting at Thomson Reuters. The webinar focuses on the topic of dealing with difficult demo customers, where Tony will be sharing his insights on how to handle challenging conversations during demos, leveraging tools from the book Crucial Conversations. The session will include Q&A at the end, and attendees can post their questions at any time during the webinar through the Q&A box on the right side of the console.
  • 00:05:00 Tony Francetic discusses the importance of having crucial conversations with difficult customers. He explains that these conversations have three components: high risk, strong emotions, and opposing opinions. These elements often influence customers to become non-communicative during demos. Francetic provides tools and tactics to engage these customers and emphasizes the importance of storytelling in these conversations. He also quotes an author to underscore how the illusion of communication can be detrimental to such crucial conversations.
  • 00:10:00 Tony Francetic discusses how people tend to avoid having direct conversations about difficult topics and will often resort to emailing instead. He explains that these skills are transferable in both business and personal life and offers three options when dealing with challenging conversations: avoid, have the conversation poorly, or have the conversation well. Francetic emphasizes the importance of understanding the goal of the conversation and crafting messaging around that topic. He also discusses the chapter “Learning to Look” and the importance of recognizing your triggers when things get emotional or crucial. By taking a step back and thinking about the situation, one can approach the conversation in a calm and collected manner.
  • 00:15:00 Tony Francetic discusses the importance of mastering your stories when dealing with difficult customers. He explains that the story you tell yourself about the customer can have a significant impact on your emotions and actions. Instead of assuming that the customer is being difficult for no reason, try telling yourself a different story that could explain their behavior. Francetic also talks about the importance of actively listening to customers instead of just listening to respond. He breaks down different types of demanding customers and offers tips on how to navigate these types of customers. Lastly, he emphasizes the importance of trust in a sales relationship and understanding the needs of the customer.
  • 00:20:00 Tony Francetic shares some tips on how to deal with difficult demo customers. He advises making sure that the customer knows that you are there to help them and want to rebuild their trust. Additionally, he talks about how to handle customers who are just there to complain and recommends redirecting and evaluating the opportunity at hand. Lastly, for indecisive and impatient customers, he suggests diving deeper into the conversation to understand their needs better and reinforce the importance of finding the right solution for them.
  • 00:25:00 Tony Francetic discusses how to handle a customer who thinks they know more than you and suggests complimenting their knowledge to build a deeper connection. The importance of trust is emphasized as a necessary component for open communication that can lead to uncovering uncomfortable but necessary information. The speaker also touches on the role of presales in establishing the right fit for a customer, even if it means that a particular deal may not work out. Overall, building trust and allowing for open communication seems to be the key to successfully dealing with difficult demo customers.
  • 00:30:00 Tony Francetic discusses the four steps in the path to action and how it drives everything we do. It starts with observation, where we see or hear something, followed by telling a story built on our life experiences and thoughts, which drives our emotion. Finally, those emotions drive our actions. Francetic gives an example of how he deals with road rage and how his wife tells herself a different story, changing his emotion from frustration to empathy. He relates this back to dealing with a difficult customer and how telling a different story can help connect with them, build trust, and open dialogue to understand what’s important to them.
  • 00:35:00 Tony Francetic discusses the importance of being vigilant about one’s thought process when dealing with difficult customers. It is crucial to identify the triggers that might cause frustration or feelings of being more curt with difficult customers, and try to tell oneself a different story about the customer to develop a new way to connect with them. Visual cues like body language and tone of voice can give context clues about customer reactions, even in online settings during video calls or chats, which sales teams can use to collaborate and engage with customers. Francetic also suggests reading books on body language like Joe Navarro’s What Everybody is Saying to better understand context clues and customer cues and adapt sales approaches accordingly.
  • 00:40:00 Tony Francetic emphasizes the need to be aware of one’s thoughts and surroundings when dealing with difficult demo customers, as well as the importance of practicing constant vigilance of thought to be able to navigate a challenging situation. The speaker cites stoicism as a useful philosophy to adopt, particularly the idea of being in control of one’s mind and not allowing external events to control them. It is crucial to listen to the other party and maintain trust during the conversation, while being patient and providing enough time for customers to process information. Finally, the speaker recommends putting these ideas into practice in a comfortable environment to develop the skill of handling difficult demo customers.
  • 00:45:00 Tony Francetic discusses how to deal with difficult demo customers and emphasizes the importance of recognizing your own triggers and staying in a positive mindset. He recommends focusing on making the conversation a dialogue rather than just asking if they have any questions and identifies the importance of identifying the type of customer you are dealing with, building trust and connections, and understanding what is important to them. Finally, he suggests practicing and learning from every scenario to be better equipped for next time. He also offers a follow-up question for when a difficult prospect says your solution can’t satisfy the landmines.
  • 00:50:00 Tony Francetic discusses how to prioritize what is important when dealing with difficult demo customers. He suggests pushing back and uncovering what is a must-have for the customer, and prioritizing those needs. Francetic also emphasizes the importance of having confidence in the solution and in the competitors, and reframing the question to showcase how your solution can address customer priorities. Finally, he encourages the concept of being a trusted advisor and prioritizing relationships over sales.
  • 00:55:00 Tony Francetic emphasizes the importance of understanding the customer’s business and challenges to make the right decision. He suggests being curious and adopting a consultative approach to uncover what’s important to the customer. He also talks about buyer enablement and how providing tools to help the customer manage through the technology purchasing landscape, even if it’s not for their solution, will be remembered in the long run. When asked about tips to differentiate between a difficult prospect and one who’s just kicking tires, Francetic recommends asking the right questions upfront, such as what the budget might be and what their interest is in moving forward. He also mentions using a qualifier/disqualifier tool like Consensus, which involves engaging the customer with a video before moving to the private demo. Finally, Francetic talks about emotional regulation and how to approach challenging conversations with peers or prospects.


About the Presenter

Tony Francetic

Tony Francetic (Thomson Reuters) – Tony is the Senior Manager of Solutions Consulting with the Tax Professional Sales department at Thomson Reuters. In this role, Tony oversees a team of 32 solutions consultants that provide web-based and live product demonstrations during the sales process. Additionally, his team includes product trainers and sales coaches. Before moving into his role in presales, he managed a team of trainers in another division. Tony started his career at Thomson Reuters providing technical support to Thomson Reuters products and then transitioned full-time as a technical trainer. He continues to train internally on presentation skills and Crucial Conversations. Tony holds a Cyber Defense degree from Baker College and an Integrated Leadership Studies degree from Central Michigan University.

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