How To: Save a Sinking Sale

Have you ever watched a sale that’s about to fail because a prospective customer is being difficult? Have you wanted to help your salespeople save it?

Here are nine things you can coach your sales team to do that will help bring dead deals back to life.

1. Say “I’m sorry.”.

Have you ever come to an impasse with a spouse, partner, family member or friend who was being difficult? Perhaps you felt you were in the right. How did you handle it?

In no-win situations with people you care about, you probably swallow your pride and apologize. The same should be true of tough customers. Apologizing makes them feel like they’re right, which can transform a missed opportunity into a closed deal.

Tip: Advise your salespeople to go the extra mile and take difficult clients out for a meal or cup of coffee to patch things up. Food (or a cup of joe) is the best way to convert an enemy into a good friend.

2. Change perspective… and don’t take it personally.

What if a salesperson stopped viewing a tough customer as “being difficult”?

What if they instead saw them as someone who thinks your business is difficult to work with because it isn’t meeting their needs?

How would that change their response to them?

Recommend that salespeople use these steps to help solve issues with customers who may view your business as “difficult”:

  1. Listen to what they’re actually saying, take time to understand their reasoning and learn about their situation.
  2. Ask questions to make sure they really “get” where the buyer is coming from.
  3. Find solutions that bridge the gap between their situation and what your business can do to help with it.
  4. Develop a clear and defined action plan.
  5. Give the prospect or client ALL the credit for coming up with the solutions.

3. Don’t assume ill intent.

Many salespeople become hardened after years of working with tough customers. This often leaves them assuming ill intent every time a prospect or client challenges them. In most cases, it’s not. Instead, prospects simply want to hear something that will convert them into clients — or customers to continue or deepen their relationship with your business.

Encourage your most jaded salespeople to adopt new attitudes by assuming that most people have positive motivations and are simply seeking solutions for their problems.

4. Give them what they ask for.

What could be more surprising than giving an impossible client EXACTLY what they want? They’ll likely become a big fan of your firm. Giving in is a win, win… For the salesperson and your business. It’s living proof that your company believes the customer is always right.

5. Take a step ABOVE.

Why do relationships fail? Because the parties involved become so entrenched in THEIR positions they can’t see other ways to resolve an issue.

When a salesperson deals with a difficult customer or client, coach them to get outside of the experience and view it as an impartial observer would. This will provide the perspective needed to solve the issue to mutual benefit.

6. Don’t assume one difficult client is the ONLY one.

Look for patterns among clients behaving badly. It’s likely not an issue with THEM. It’s probably a problem with YOUR business. This is where marketing should take the lead and come up with solutions that help solve bigger systemic business issues, such as pricing problems, service difficulties or ineffective messaging.

7. Align your sales strategies with your company values.

If your company communicates a mission and vision, ensure your sales process is aligned with it. One reason customers become difficult is that they have expectations based on the promises made in marketing messages that aren’t met in the buying experience. This could leave them feeling insecure and defensive.

Ensuring your salespeople pay off on your marketing will help seal more deals.

8. Go back to the basics.

Over time, seasoned salespeople pick up bad habits that alienate prospective clients. One of the worst habits: They stop listening to what people ask for and jump to solutions they assume they need — or things they want to sell.

If this is the case, it’s time for a reset. Recommend that your salespeople get back to the basics of selling. Make sure they take the time to understand:

  • What prospective customers and clients need
  • Who will benefit from it
  • Where the solution will be delivered
  • When it needs to be there or completed
  • How the job will get done.

Once a prospective client believes a salesperson genuinely understands their needs, they’re more likely to do business with them.

Tip: A sales enablement system like the one offered by Mobile Locker will ensure that the people on your sales team use the correct sales messages and materials — and follow your defined process. It will prevent them from picking up bad habits.

9. Be willing to say “no.”

If a difficult prospect doesn’t respond to humility, generosity, a fresh perspective or sound selling methods, it’s probably time to give it up. After all, salespeople have the power to choose who they do business with.

Rejection can be the final step that brings an impossible client back into line. If it doesn’t work, it makes more sense to find someone else to do business with.

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