We’ll this issue of YSS is running a bit late. I’ve been preparing to go to the UK for holidays. My wife’s great aunty is turning 100 in a few weeks and the family is having a big party.
My wife and I are taking the opportunity to have a holiday and we’ll be touring around the UK for six weeks. Since we’re holidaying I’m not taking my laptop and will not be as contactable over the next six weeks.
I’d still expect to get out another issue of YSS in that time though.
“I’ll never buy from you again”
Have you ever heard those words in your sales career?
It's one of the more definite sales objections.
I remember well the first time they were uttered to me. I got a call from the senior buyer of one of the largest companies in Australia. The business I had with this company was business I was not expected to get initially as I was competing with the company the buyer’s son worked for. At least getting the business convinced me the buyer was playing it fair.
Anyway the story was that the chemical I had been selling the buyer was diluted with a cheap solvent and the buyer was pretty angry about it.
What would be your reaction to a call like that?
Mine was to share the concern and promise to look into it. The buyer assured me his lab was correct in their findings and that they had been cheated and that I was wasting my time.
As soon as I got off the phone with the buyer I contacted the guy in my company that liaised with the German producer of the product. He assured me that the German company was reputable and they would not try to cheat anyone. I gave him the details and he called them to discuss the problem.
My colleague discovered that it was common practice to dilute the raw material to adjust its strength. There were several diluents that could be used to do the job. Indeed the one that the supplier had used was the cheapest type but that this cheap diluent was widely used and accepted in Europe.
Now I had the information and explanation. I needed to see the buyer.
I called and he was somewhat surprised to hear me on the other end of the line.
I said I had some important information for him regarding the “suspect” product.
He eventually said I could come out and see him although I was wasting my time because he’d never buy from me again.
“that was his prerogative”.
When I explained the scenario he called his lab who advised that the story from Germany made some sense. I further advised that we could dilute the product with any of the diluents in a list I had given him and the charge would be essentially the same.
He asked why the cheaper diluent was used?
I advised it was used for two reasons. Firstly, it was cheaper and secondly this diluent was more readily available (makes sense from a supply / demand perspective too).
The only difference in the deal would be that shipping time would be extended two weeks in order for the German company to get in the desired diluent and make the product for him. Strangely enough our delivery time was about three weeks shorter than our major competitors. This also backed up our story.
I knew he was close to placing a new order.
So, I asked for the order.
He was surprised and obviously still hesitant. So, I offered to have the product certified.
This is where an independent body takes four samples of the product and they become a middleman in the money exchange. They keep one sample, and one each goes to the maker, the buyer and the agent. When the shipment arrives in the country the independent body has it tested by their lab and only pass on payment to the sellers if the product matches the specifications of the sample.
I walked out of that buyer’s office that day with his order in my hand.
OK. What does this story demonstrate?
Firstly, I didn’t try to argue with him about the problem even though I was confident in my supplier.
I accepted his story and promised to look into it.
In doing this I didn’t escalate the situation.
It also showed I had confidence in my product and the manufacturer.
Next, I followed up.
When I got the information I called to make an appointment to see him face-to-face.
This surprised the buyer.
Not only did I come back but I wanted to see him rather than stay safely on the other end of the phone.
This demonstrated to him the confidence I had in our product.
(By the way, if our supplier had been at fault I still would have gone to see the buyer to apologise personally)
It became apparent during the process that there was a difference in perception between the seller and the buyer.
This is often the case in disputes.
As a salesperson it’s your job to dig into the problem.
Understand the issues and if possible resolve them.
The clincher was when I offered to get the product certified for him.
That displayed ultimate faith and basically eliminated all his risk.
A money back guarantee backed by an internationally recognised independent firm is hard to beat.
(Incidentally, he didn’t take up my offer to have the product certified. Although we did airfreight a pre-shipment sample for his lab to evaluate.)
I wasn’t nervous or worried throughout the whole process.
I guess I adopted the attitude, “What have I got to lose?”
So, to summarise.
When faced with a scenario like this:
Respect the buyer to maintain rapport.
Gather the facts and look for the misunderstandings.
Maintain your credibility.
Follow up and face the music.
Reverse the risk for the buyer.
Here's to YourSalesSuccess.
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