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Getting Things Started on the Right Foot – Part Two:

Setting the Direction of the Call – Part Two

As mentioned in the first portion of this topic, the ability to effectively set the direction of a sales call has an immediate and lasting effect on the first interaction with a client but also all future interactions.  We have already looked at how to do the following:

  1. Build Rapport and Gain Trust – How to establish a connection with your client.
  2. Utilize Effective Bridging – Make the transition from the initial conversation to business at hand
  3. Utilize Introductory Benefit Statements – Answering the client’s most important question, “what’s in it for me?”

Now we will take a look at two additional components of how to set the direction of your sales call. First, we will look at how you can reinforce a customer’s positive image of your company by using benefit statements. We will then delve into the right and wrong things to say and do when a customer has a negative comment or a complaint.

Building Value with Benefit Statements

Over the course of a business relationship, your customers will eventually begin to recognize and point out the value your company provides to the table. You will start to see this as customers make comments based on experiences or information they have gathered on your capabilities. When a customer points out something positive about your company, your products and services or your relationship, it is important to reinforce the customer’s notions with a benefit statement. These benefit statements enable you to build value in the customer’s mind and, in this type of situation, help build rapport. While they are applicable in any phase of the sales cycle, here is an example of how they can be used to respond to a positive statement:

Client: “Your consultant did a terrific job of deploying our payroll system last month.  He really helped my employees get up to speed on the product’s functionality without any headaches.”

Sales Rep: “Thank you. I consistently get great feedback on our consultant’s work. All of our deployment specialists go through a thorough training and certification process not only on our products but also on client relations. This allows customers to receive quick turnkey deployments and smooth knowledge transfer so that productivity is increased quickly and efficiently. What exactly did our consultant do that was so helpful?”

Another example might be…

Client: “Your machine parts have been a blessing on the assembly line.  Our downtime has decreased by fifty percent!”

Sales Rep: “I’m glad to hear that. Our company is proud of the quality of our machine parts. Our products undergo the industry’s most rigorous testing requirements in order to ensure complete reliability.  This enables your assembly lines to run more effectively with less downtime, higher output and lowered associated expenses.”

Handling Negative Comments

Wouldn’t it be nice if our clients only complimented us?  What a perfect world that would be.  Yet, at some point, all of us have to deal with complaints and negative comments.  It is important to handle these comments in a way that does not reinforce a negative impression.  Rather than agreeing with a client’s negative comment, it is best to clarify the source of the problem.

Client: “I have had nothing but bad experiences working with your company.”

Sales Rep: “What kind of experiences?”

Client: “Shipping has always been a mess.”

Sales Rep: “Can you provide me more detail on what has happened in the past?  I want make sure I understand the situation.”

As you can see, this approach acknowledges a potential problem without reinforcing the client’s negative comment.  Another example…

Client: “I don’t want to deal with the usual headaches that come after rolling out your service.”

Sales Rep: “Have you had problems in the past?”

Client: “We sure have.  After we rolled out the service in our Omaha distribution center, we could never reach technical support.”

Sales Rep: “In what instances did you need technical support?  I need to understand the circumstances of your situation.”

Digging into the situation allows you to uncover the true problem and to determine what can be done to remedy the situation and rebuild trust. Of course, if strengthening a relationship is not important to you, you can always use the wrong approach:

Client: “The last interior designer never returned my calls and the showroom was never really completed.”

Sales Rep: “I don’t doubt it. She’s awfully busy and is sometimes hard to reach.”

Oops!  What message did you just send?  “You bet, Mr. Customer.  Our designer is focused on calling important clients.  You don’t fit the bill.”

Reinforce positive statements and dig deeper into negative statements.  You can shape a client’s perception of your company based on the way you respond to their words.

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