Written by Sean McPheat |
There comes a time in every salesperson’s life when they have to deal with someone who has justification to be angry. Maybe it was a major problem with deliveries, something has been promised and it didn’t materialise, or there’s been a complete mix-up that has led to the customer being put in a bad position.
Whatever the cause, the way it is dealt with will make or break the long-term relationship. If you’ve made a mistake, there are certain steps you can take to deal with it and mitigate the circumstances that caused the anger. Here are some ideas:
1) If the client is angry and actually shouting…
a) Tell them “You’re right!”. Most people keep shouting because they face opposition, disagreement or confrontation. By taking that stand, there is nothing to confront, and the client has nothing to fight or shout against.
b) Get absolutely clear on what went wrong and get the details. Have you noticed how difficult it is to yell small details at someone?
c) Be committed to solving it. By taking responsibility, the client will acknowledge that action is going to be taken and that may calm them down.
d) Ask how he would like it resolved. This takes you both into solution-focused mode and keeps the attention on what will happen in the future, rather than what has happened in the past.
2) Find the ‘Ideal’ Solution. This will be something that results in a win-win scenario; that is, the client feels they have had the problem resolved and your organisation doesn’t feel they have been robbed. The best concession is one where you find out exactly how the client uses the product or service. Maybe you could let the client try a product they haven’t used before. Or give a concession that increases the loyalty of the client in the long-term, something they have to keep coming back to you for over a period of time.
3) Sell the ‘Ideal’ Solution: Establish the benchmark, so the client and you can measure the starting point for compensation. If you can compare the value of the concession to what they actually lost in the earlier problem, you can start ‘selling’ the benefits of going with your solution.
4) Agree what the compensation or resolution should be and follow it through: Make sure you give the client every reason to remain loyal to your company. How you deal with situations when they go wrong is often the catalyst to further business, because they can see how you are geered up to deal with things when human error is involved.
5) Use post-problem bonding to make sure everything is ok: This will strengthen the relationship between you both, and convince the client they are making the right decision to be with you.
6) Use it as a learning experience: A wise man said ‘Make sure a crisis only happens once’. You should learn lessons from what happened and work proactively to ensure as best as possible that it never happens again. Once, they can forgive, but twice? Three times? What does it tell the client about your commitment to quality and service?
By dealing with an angry client using these steps, you give yourself a better chance of keeping and maintaining the client’s business in the future.
Originally published: 4 April, 2011
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