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Lesser Known Sales Obstacles –Farquharson/Tedesco

September 2012

Ask 100 salespeople, regardless of what they sell, "What is the hardest part about your job?" and you are likely to hear answers that won't surprise you: Beating voicemail, overcoming the price objection, and managing time. Consider them to be the Sales Triathlon. But there are some lesser-known sales obstacles that are no less difficult to conquer. They help to keep the job, um, interesting to say the least. This month, your faithful sales servants, Bill and TJ, share some thoughts on challenges that weren't exactly in the recruitment brochure:

Selling the customer on the idea that he/she is at fault—A customer calls with bad news: A critical job she just received was printed incorrectly. Naturally, she is furious and ping-pongs between demands and accusations. Resisting the urge to defend yourself, you promise to do a forensic study and find out what happened. Studying the situation, you quickly learn that the error was not on your shoulders.You printed to the exact specifications that the client signed off on. Now comes the hard part: Telling her that. Gulp.

Handling this challenge delicately is all about allowing the customer to save face. The desired outcome in any job-gone-bad situation is to come out of it better off than if the problem never happen in the first place. Careful thought should go into not just your response, but the handling of the real problem: The fact that the customer still needs the job and now has to pay for it again.

There is a time and a place for e-mail and the telephone. But, bad news is best delivered in person and with a wing man. Come up with options, put on your big boy/girl pants and go see the customer. Oh, and bring the proofs. Any concessions you choose to make on the reprint are up to you.

But remember: If you give something, you should try to get something in return. Ponder that last sentence before the meeting.

Selling when you don't need the business—One of the best motivators is fear. When a sales rep first starts out, he or she is driven by daily thoughts of failure. Oddly, that's not a bad thing. It's amazing how motivated you are just after the American Express bill arrives in the mail. You are a prospecting ninja, a machine and the picture of diligence.

 

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