Have you ever lost a sale because of a problem you could have and probably should have dealt with earlier in the sales process? Have you ever lost a customer because you waited too long to tell them about a delay or defect? If you know a problem is going to blow up in your face, defuse it now.
In sales, it is often better if you bring up the issue before the prospect does. It builds trust, save time, and relieves stress for both parties. Sometimes, salespeople tend to stress themselves out by refusing to tell a prospect or client bad news. Other times, they are afraid to lose the sale by telling a prospect no to an unreasonable demand. Don’t let the fear of looking bad or losing momentum stop you from addressing the most important issues.
The best way to deliver bad news is quickly and gently. Don’t make the problem worse by waiting for it to blow up. Instead, simply ask in a nurturing tone if you can share some unpleasant news. It might sound something like this.
You: Jill, I looked into the delivery times you wanted, and I have some bad news. Can we talk about it?
You: You mentioned that you need the product by Feb 1st, and it looks like we can’t get it in until the 15th. Is that going to be a problem?
Prospect: I am afraid it will. We have a project starting on the first.
You: Do you want to talk about possible solutions or will we have to pass on this one?
Bringing the problem up yourself makes it easier for you to deal with the potential objections. Ignoring the issues is not going to make your delivery time any faster. However, because you raised the issues, you have the opportunity to find a solution. Maybe they don’t need your product on day one of the project, or maybe you can find a replacement part? Maybe walking away from the deal saves you both time and money?
Once you get comfortable addressing the problem, you can apply this technique early in all of your sales calls by following these steps:
- Think about your top three objections, problems or roadblocks that you encounter on a regular basis.
- Develop questions to “test the waters” to see if they are important issues to each prospect and the likelihood these problems will explode.
- Brainstorm with your team about potential solutions or workarounds for these situations.
When you take a step back and look at the situation objectively, you will see that you can’t lose anything you don’t have in the first place. If there is a potential deal breaker, it is in both parties’ best interest to get it out on the table. The sooner you qualify or disqualify the opportunity, the better. You will save time, money and energy in pursuing real opportunities instead of fictional pipe dreams. If financing, terms, delivery times, or inventory status are going to kill the deal, and they are immovable roadblocks, then it is best to go ahead and disqualify the opportunity.
Intentionally ending an opportunity can be tough, but so is pursuing an opportunity which you have no chance of winning. By learning how to defuse problems before they blow up, you will gain more time, more trust, and more sales.
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