You Should NOT Be In Sales Unless You Always Take Ownership
Three months ago I posted about my ambition to quit smoking.
Although I had success, I did make a promise to you that if I were to cheat in any way that I would cease to be an affiliate of the Green Smoke e-cigarette program.
Well I am here to tell you that I have cheated and that I take responsibility and ownership for letting down my supporters and myself.
Now although I feel guilty about my failure, I feel pride in my ability to recognize a shortcoming, acknowledge and accept ownership and responsibility for it, and to take action – by writing this post.
Admitting mistakes is a key characteristic of a great sales consultant.
If the fault is yours alone, or due to circumstances beyond your control, taking ownership and responsibility although difficult for your reputation in the short term will produce amazing results to your credibility over the long haul.
Very often in sales, we think of the sale being over once the money has been handed over and the service is given – but this is wrong.
So many opportunities exist for sales consultants who go above and beyond the call of duty by providing after sale support.
It builds credibility, loyalty and trust – it shows your clients that you have their back.
Short-Term Pain for Long-Term Gain
A part of after sale support is admitting when your product or level of service has not achieved the desired result; to be transparent.
And if service levels have lowered, to set realistic expectations on how the issue will be recitified.
See you must be proactive by initiating a conversation with your client and discussing a solution together.
Cause I guarantee a client would definitely prefer for you to proactively reach out and inform them of a product or service error than by finding out the hard way – whether it is a larger than expected bill, a policy change that has affected them, or a defective product you are recalling.
If you are the cause of the failure in service, you will have to thicken your skin and confess, and to let it be known that it is your priority to ensure to your client that you are going to give them your full attention.
And then do it!
We are all human and humans make mistakes – if you have a client that doesn’t understand that then it could be your ability to position negativity into positivity.
Perception is Everything
A former manager once gave me some great advice:
Perception is Everything.
This advice has stuck with me and although I have developed it to include that perception should be created using a sincere approach and that substance must exist behind the perception, it is fundamentally true.
So in forming a positive perception of failure you must look for the opportunity that exists out of the issue.
You start by not only acknowledging the problem but admitting that you yourself aren’t perfect.
Then move on to the product or service – let’s say in our example it’s a defective product you have to recall.
The client can think of this recall in two ways depending on the perception you create:
1) It’s defective!? Well it must be shit.
2) It’s defective!? I should have gone with your better model.
If you have managed expectations leading upto to the crisis point, you will already possess the clout and trust to educate the client on the details behind the defection.
And to propose a solution.
In this case I would provide them with the better model until the defect has been fixed or offer them an upgrade at a discounted rate.
The point is that it allows the conversation to continue.
In my example we gave the client two new options – both of which benefit the client.
The third option would be to cancel altogether, and that will sometimes happen.
But to what extent do you go to save a client?
Do what is best for the client but also what is right for the business.
If the client is benefitting from the product or service, you can ask them what the impact of not having your product or service will be to them – and see where it goes.
You can sell them again and you will be given another shot if you have done your due diligence by building rapport, loyalty, and credibility.
If they suggest they want to go to a competitor – without slamming the competition – show your competitive advantages, the exclusivity of your offering, and then highlight the already established relationship.
If they insist on leaving, don’t make too big a fuss – they will never return if you do.
You should accept and respect their decision, keep the lines of communication very open by letting them know they can contact you with any questions, and work on getting them a deal they cannot refuse.
In my experience, if you are proactive by admitting failure, your client will appreciate that you were looking out for their business.
And since many sales consultants are afraid to admit a mistake to begin with, doing so will separate you greatly from the competition.