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How to Cope with a Sales Disaster

This morning's post "Can This Sales Call Be Saved" presented five sales call disasters. Most bad sales calls aren't that dramatic, but they can still cause problems, and keep you from making quota. Here are five rules ...to remember when an important sales call goes south:

  • RULE #1: Don't Fall Apart. We've all been in situations where we are looking at the prospect or client and saying to ourselves, "This is bad. I am going down the tubes so quickly I can't believe it." You have a choice of losing it completely, getting rattled, or keeping your composure. You have a choice of either attempting to recoup from the problem or disengaging gracefully.
  • RULE #2: Don't Predict the Future. An ugly sales call doesn't mean that every contact in the future will be the same or the relationship is damaged forever. A horrible sales call resulting from a fouled up product delivery may be uncomfortable but your product may still be required, a better value than that of your competitor, and well positioned for increasing orders in the future. Your pain or embarrassment might well be only temporary.
  • RULE #3. Don't Dig A Deeper Hole. Sometimes we say silly, stupid or unprofessional things. Or we make a mistake or blunder. We are late, or come unprepared. Sometimes it is best to just take a humble approach, acknowledge your shortcoming and apologize. The ones who think that they are so smooth that they can talk their way out of anything will most often make the situation worse.
  • RULE #4. If You're The Reason, Solicit Empathy. Suppose you took a big order from the customer, handled it yourself and they ended up with a large shipment of the wrong merchandise. You and you alone fouled this up. While you can immediately calm down the buyer, you might as well try to soften the blows and pave the way for future calls by "owning up." You might be surprised how often it happens that once you acknowledge what an "unforgivable" error you made and how badly you feel, the customer will move on after he or she has had a chance to vent.
  • RULE #5: Learn From the Situation. Examine why the call was a disaster. Was it because of lack of preparation, not listening properly, making assumptions before or during the call, or not adjusting to the style or personality of the customer? (See "Top 10 Reasons Sales Reps Lose Sales" for more examples.) If so, these are all problems that you can correct, with some extra thinking and training.
The above are based upon material provided by Alan McAnally, the president of Commonwealth Sales Consulting.
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