Any professional who works with customers on a regular basis is bound to say something off-putting or not quite appropriate to a customer, sooner or later. The difference between a normal statement and one that is offensive to a customer is subtle, but you can see how clear it is in the examples below.
We’re all out. (without offering alternatives)
It won’t be the end of the world if you have to tell a customer that you’re out of something because if you’re out, then well… you’re out. Don’t just leave it at that, though. There is an opportunity in that moment to sell them something else. As a matter of fact, you would be surprised at how many people would be willing to settle for an alternative product from you, rather than going out and getting it from your competitor. It’s just less of a hassle.
I can’t help you right now.
Again, you can’t leave a sentence like that hanging in the air with no recourse. You may be distracted or extremely busy, but even under that pressure, you’ll save a potential customer by calmly telling them that someone will be with them right away.
That’s not my job.
As you may have noticed, the theme here is that these statements are probably true and accurate, but the truth hurts a little too much for customers ready to give you their money. In this particular case, when someone asks you about something outside of your expertise or “below your pay grade”, you still have to at least give them a good answer or connect them with someone who can help them.
We have a cheap product.
As a general rule, don’t refer to your product or service as “cheap”, even if all you mean is that it costs less; it just has negative connotations. Instead, simply tell people that it’s “affordable” or “inexpensive” to denote a low cost while retaining an impression of quality.
I think you’re confused.
In the words of Vince Vaughn—“There’s a nice way to say that.” Tact is key when you’re trying to explain something to a customer. Often, you will run into people who don’t know what they are talking about because, after all, you’re the one who knows your product inside and out—not them. Even so, it’s not the best idea to actually say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
This isn’t in your price range.
Rather than tell the customer what they can’t afford, why not show them what they can afford and suggest alternatives. The idea is to keep stoking their interest even when you don’t have what they were looking for at first because while the customer is showing interest, there’s always a chance that they will buy something else.