"I recently started working for a new company and I'm getting a lot of negative feedback from customers and prospects about how poor the service and reliability was previous to my starting. What is the best way for me to handle this and still make the sale?"
Your first priority as a professional sales person is to leave the prospect in better shape than when you found them. If that is your top priority, you won't have to worry about hitting your numbers. So rather than ask "how to respond" when a prospect or an account you are trying to up-sell complains about your company's past service record, find out if in deed the problem they are complaining about has been fixed.
If the problem still exists, can it be fixed in a timely manner? If yes, great! There's still hope. If not, you have other decisions to make.
Problems have Been Solved. Now What?
If the problems have been solved, there are two strategies you may want to consider:
Option #1: Empathy -
When you contact a prospect or client that has been mishandled by your predecessors and they let you know about it, put yourself in their shoes.
"Mr. Prospect, I understand how you must feel. I would fee the same way if I were in your shoes (or: if that happened to me)" Followed by: "What I can say is this, we've recognized and corrected the problem by _______, _______ & _______ and to prove it to you and earn your trust back, what if we started with a small project so you can see for yourself, fair enough?"
But What if They Still Say "NO"?
Expect them to say "NO" and have a sincere rebuttal ready. I would try at least three times on that sales call before relenting and executing what I call the "planting the seed" play.
Planting the Seed
Planting the Seed is when you've recognized that it's time to let the prospect off the phone, but still want to have a shot at earning their business.
One example can be something like this:
After empathizing and after the 3rd time asking for them to give you another shot and they refuse, you could "plant the seed" with:
Sales Script Example:
"Mr. Prospect I respect your decision. If in the future you find that your existing supplier fails you on "hot button 1", "hot button 2" or "hot button 3" don't hesitate to reach out and give us a try. We are way more motivated to win you back then our competitors are to keep you. I'll email you with my contact information so you can have it on file. Sound good?"
Detailed Sales Script Example:
"Mr. Prospect I respect your decision. If in the future you find that your existing supplier "overcharges you for services", "misses a scheduled meeting" or "doesn't call you back in a timely manner " don't hesitate to reach out and give us a try. We are way more motivated to win you back then our competitors are to keep you. I'll email you with my contact information so you can have it on file. Sound good?"
Don't be surprised if the next day, week or month you receive an email or get a phone call with your prospect willing to give you a shot (the saying "never stand in the way of your competition sabotaging themselves" comes to mind). All you did was plant the seed and as soon as your competition dropped the ball, you were there to lend a helping hand.
Option #2: Prospect for New Accounts -
You may want to turn this situation into a growth opportunity by looking for new untapped verticals that could add additional cash flow to your bottom line. Just make sure your company's issues are resolved. You don't want poison the water well again.
Michael Pedone - SalesBuzz.com's CSS: Chief Sales Scientist
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