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. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or tj@tjtedesco.com.
As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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