This past week during one of my Sales Culture Workshops a client asked me, “How can I fix a bad sales relationship?” That’s a great question—and it has a very simple four-part solution:
- Just ask. It’s not complicated, and it’s not mysterious. One thing I see salespeople doing incorrectly is assuming that they know what their client’s issues are and why the relationship has gone sour. Nothing will make the situation worse for you and inhibit your ability to drive more revenue than thinking that you know the answer and acting within that vacuum.
- Don’t get defensive. The second thing you must do to repair the relationship is not get defensive. Listen to what you’re being told and just accept it. In other words, “fall on your sword.” Salespeople who feel that they have to be right leads to the quickest road ending a relationship. Suck it up, take it like a sales professional, and show you “get it.”
I think this idea of falling on your sword is a lesson for all of us. I know as a small-business owner, there’s nothing more annoying than working with a vendor who just can’t accept that I’m not happy about something, offers only excuses, and not a drop of “I’m sorry.”
- Eliminate the word “but” and listen. If you answer everything with “but,” you negate everything the client has said. Instead, try using “and” as a way to respond. This says, “I understand.”
- Make sure you ask how you’re doing. I talk about this in my book, Everyone’s in Sales. Asking “how” is a great way to take the temperature of your relationship and allow the client to answer. Then you both move on.
As always, good selling!