There is a right way and a wrong way to solve a sales problem. Do it the right way, and you keep your customer; do it the wrong way, and you may not only lose a customer, but you might lose other business as well.
Here is the best way to solve a sales problem and keep your customers.
First, the wrong way to solve a sales problem
If you're hoping that prospects or customers won't notice when there's a problem, or that you can ignore a problem, think again. The truth is that problems usually don't just go away. There’s a big difference between waiting for something good to come out of a situation and ignoring something bad that needs to be corrected.
Also, responding slowly and without a sense of urgency to solve a serious problem can be just as bad as ignoring it. It's likely that customers will get angry when they realize you could have acted and solved their problem sooner.
The right way to solve a sales problem
Connect with your customer in the best way possible
To solve a sales problem, you will want to contact your customer directly. The best ways to connect are by phone or face-to-face; the worst way is by email. Email presents many barriers to effective communication. Your email message could be misconstrued so that you come off as lacking empathy or cause a misunderstanding that leaves people thinking a problem is worse than it is. Meeting with your customer in person is one of your most effective options; however, a face-to-face meeting is not always realistic. Your next best option is to get on the phone.
Over the phone, customers can hear your voice and tone, and you can use your listening skills to figure out how they are feeling or thinking. Louder volume or an increased speaking pace might be a sign of anger. A pause before answering could mean they are processing your message or not understanding what you’re saying. Make sure the person understands what you are saying; misunderstandings only make a sales problem more complex.
Apologize and acknowledge the problem
Offer an apology for mistakes, and in your apology state what you know to be the problem and include how it happened.
Here’s an example: You sent a proposal with a quote to a prospect and you realize the quote is wrong. In your apology, explain to your prospect that you made a mistake because you failed to include some costs, and be as specific about what the additional costs are. Whatever you do, don’t blame someone else, even if that’s the case. You are responsible for the work you send to prospects and customers. You missed the error in the first place—you are now responsible.
Come up with some options for what you can do to rectify the problem. You might decide to honor the original quote that you offered, but could ask if your prospect is willing to accept it for a shorter period of time. Consider all your options and then present the three (if you have more than three) best ones. Realize that a prospect or customer may still be unhappy with the options you offer and end the relationship—be prepared for the worst. However, I have found that many customers will accept mistakes if there’s a sincere apology and the alternatives are reasonable.
Deal with your sales problems
Malcolm Forbes once said, “If you have a job without aggravation then you don’t have a job.” In sales, you will have aggravation. The key is learning how to deal with sales problems, and keep your job and customers.
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