Lesser Known Sales Obstacles –Farquharson/Tedesco

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.

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.
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