Customer Experience News & Trends

Saving deals when things start to go bad

Anyone can close an easy deal, but it takes a real professional to recover when things start to go badly.

Maybe a competitor has decided to drastically reduce its price to get the job. Perhaps a new competitor has unexpectedly emerged, or the customer’s budget has dried up. Whatever the concern, just as you sense triumph is at hand, it’s snatched out of your hands.

Rescuing wounded deals
Professional salespeople are able to rescue these wounded deals. It begins with anticipation. Professionals aren’t imagining how to spend that commission money. Instead they anticipate what near-fatal objections or obstacles could come up, and make response and recovery plans.

That’s why some professional salespeople are rarely caught off guard, even by an unexpected turn of events. The essential factors in snatching victory back from the jaws of defeat are:
1. Early warning. You can’t know too soon that something has started to go sour.
2. Intuition. You need finely honed instincts to tell you when something is not quite right with the “perfect” deal. Indicators that your intuition should activate include a customer who doesn’t return your calls or one who doesn’t ask the detailed questions that should be asked.
3. Never say die. You’re only defeated when you admit you’re defeated. If you’re persistent, your prospect will see your determination and your confidence in your product or service. Don’t accept defeat too early in the sales cycle.
4. Swift response time. Quickly respond by addressing each issue raised. Try to include a nugget of new information that is relevant to the customer. The point is to bring in new ammunition.
5. No excuses. Don’t stoop to blaming external factors that are beyond your control. That is just giving yourself permission to fail.  A high-performing salesperson always accepts full responsibility for the loss of a sale.

De-installing your competitor
If a competitor is holding up the deal or getting a foothold with one of your customers, you want to try de-installing the competitor as soon as possible. Here are two strategies that may help:
1. Direct. Take the competition on head-to-head. Try to come up with superiority in certain key areas.
2. Indirect. Create slippery footing beneath your competitor at the eleventh hour. This is often the most effective strategy, but it takes timing and knowledge. Study your competitor closely and look for any dissatisfaction by your customers. Find weaknesses and exploit them.

Adapted from “The Selling Fox” (John Wiley) by Jim Holden. Mr. Holden is an author and sales trainer.

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