It’s only a matter of time when you have a sales problem. 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 can not only lose a customer, but you might lose other business as well. Here’s how to solve your sales problem and keep your customer.
Here’s the wrong way to solve a sales problem
You might think the prospect or customer might not notice the problem. You’re thinking that maybe you can ignore the problem. Don’t even think that. Your problem is not going away. There’s a big difference between patience and waiting for something to happen versus knowing something wrong occurred and it needs to be corrected.
You might not have a sense of urgency to solve the problem. You might think instead you could respond slowly. That is just as bad as ignoring the problem because your customer will probably get angry when he realizes you could have acted sooner.
Connect with your customer the most effective way.
Above all, decide how to communicate with your customer. Do you want to email your customer to address the problem? Email is especially a poor option to handle a problem. Your only options are telephone or face-to-face. Email presents so many barriers to effective communication. The reader can misunderstand your emotions and think you lack empathy. The problem becomes worse if the reader misunderstands the problem and thinks it’s worse than it is.
Meeting your customer face-to-face isn’t always in the budget or a realistic alternative. Instead, the next best option is to get on the phone and talk with your customer. He can hear your voice and you can hear his to make decisions about how the message is being understood. Focus on using your listening skills to the best of your ability. Listen for volume or pace increases which might mean anger. A customer might pause before answering which might be processing your message or even misunderstanding what you’re saying. Check often for understanding. Misunderstanding is something you don’t need when you have a problem!
Apologize and acknowledge the problem.
Offer your apology for the mistake. State what you know to be the problem. Include how it happened. Here’s an example. You sent a proposal with a quote to a prospect. You realize the quote is wrong.
Explain to your prospect that you made a mistake because you didn’t include some costs. You can be even more specific about those costs if you can. 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. You’re now responsible.
Give the customer some options about what you can do. You might have to honor what you offered and ask if your prospect can accept that for less than the contract duration. Consider all the options you could offer and present the three (if you can create them) best ones. Realize that a prospect or customer might be unhappy with all your options and end the relationship. You must be prepared for the worst. I’ve found that many customers will accept mistakes if there’s a sincere apology and the alternatives are reasonable
Malcom Forbes once said, “If you have a job without aggravation then you don’t have a job.” In sales you’ll have aggravation. Now you can deal with sales problems and keep your job and customers.