The customer is always right … except when they aren’t. Has this ever happened to you? You enter the customer’s office with a smile and a ready handshake only to be greeted with a scowl and gruff hello. Then the customer unloads his frustration on you. But you know what the customer is saying is wrong. Great salespeople know not to argue but to ask questions to understand the customer’s assertion.
The Value Of A Good Relationship
A solid, mutually respectful relationship is vital for winning and keeping business. When the customer has a problem, the first person they want to call is you, the sales person. It’s your job to sort out the issue and manage the resolution. Great salespeople remember Occam’s Razor: “All else being equal, the simplest solution is usually the best one.” to resolve a customer’s problem.
First Understand The Problem
Just like in handling objections, the great salesperson begins by asking questions to fully understand the issue. When I sold safety products and a customer called with a problem I asked these three questions: “Did anyone get hurt or die?” “Did the production line get shut down?” “Did anyone get fired?” Usually the answer to all three was “no”; so I would say “should be simple to solve this issue.”
Simple Problems Deserve Simple Solutions
The customer is always right unless the great salesperson finds out otherwise. So after understanding the problem the salesperson needs to get it solved. When possible the salesperson closest to the customer should be the one to solve it. As the branch manager for a safety products company, I gave the customer service rep permission to solve any customer problem where the solution was less than $100. Got the wrong size gloves? Send the right size right away, at no charge! The problem is off the customer’s desk and the solution implemented. Of course the customer service rep called to follow up to be sure the mistake was corrected satisfactorily.
Complex Problems Need Coordinated Solutions
For great salespeople who sell large, complex products or services customer satisfaction is imperative. Let even simple problems go unresolved and this customer will likely be lost. When I worked for a company that designed and sold custom fabricated processing equipment the products could cost many thousands of dollars. Since they were one-of-a-kind products, chances that the customer would have a complaint were large. Dick Musto, the VP of Engineering would always ask the salesperson to find out how the customer would fix the problem. Getting the customer involved in solving complex problems let’s them take ownership of the solution. If the fix doesn’t work, then they have skin in the game, too. Remarkably most of the time the customer’s idea worked and for less cost than might have been otherwise. Confirming the customer is always right!
Unless The Customer Is Wrong
“Hey”, the customer yelled over the phone: “I ordered 100 of these parts and you sent me 1000!!” A simple look at the purchase order from the customer showed it was written for 1000 not the 100. Simple typo one could suppose. The salesperson now has to tell the customer that he got what he ordered. Great salespeople do this and help the customer to save face: “Max, I checked your PO and it was written for 1000 pieces. Probably a typo? Would you want to keep the 1000 or return 900? If you make the return you can keep the 100 pieces at the 1000 piece price. How does that sound?” Great salespeople manage customers to build mutually beneficial long-term relationships.
What You Can Do Right Now
- Think back over the times a customer had a problem. How did you handle it?
- Understand your role in how your company handles customer problems.
- Check your skill level in understanding the problem from the customer’s perspective.
To learn more sales secrets see Chapter Fourteen, Post Sale Secrets and Activities, in Secrets of the Softer Side of Selling. For even more sales encouragement, join our FREE Sales Club! “See” you next week.
Don Crawford & Lois Carter Crawford