Build a Relationship, Save a Sale
One of the more challenging parts of sales occurs when something goes wrong. It could be your fault, the customer’s fault, or both. Even if you make things right, bad feelings can still permeate the relationship. You can own your portion of the mistake, refund, reprint, and do everything humanly possible and still, what the client will remember is the error.
In prior sales tips, I have written and spoken about the protocol to follow, so I won’t repeat that advice. Instead, let me offer you another thought, one came from a coaching conversation…
The error had to do with a misunderstanding/miscommunication over postage cost. The sales rep had to inform the customer they had to pony up a significant amount of money the client thought was included due to the wording of the proposal. While they understood the error, it still caused some angst in that a job budgeted to cost X, now cost Y and it was that issue that lingered well past the customer saying, “I can see how the mistake was made,” a statement that would lead you to believe they understood and accepted the situation.
Think of any relationship in your life that has lasted years. Over the course of your time together with that person there have been hurt feelings and disagreements and arguments. And yet, the fact that you still have a relationship with this person means that you have gotten past the negativity. Looking back, I’m certain you remember what happened and how it made you feel. In fact, you might even have a visceral response to the memory. This is exactly what I am talking about when it comes to errors that occur with jobs. The feeling remains.
Imagine being in the situation my coaching client was regarding the postage and saying to the customer something like, “Over the course of any relationship, there will be issues and challenges like this one. I promise, I will make it up to you. Good vendors accept responsibility and work with the customer to make things right. Good relationships endure these lows because they know they are far less common than the highs. Because I value my relationship with you and your company, I will find a way to make this up to you.”
The best client/vendor relationships last years. Stuff happens. Quality vendors make corrections. Quality clients are forgiving.
You won’t win them all, but this might be one way to save a customer from leaving because of a problem, big or small.
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