Many of our sales training clients in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver are faced with similar challenges. One of the most frustrating is the constant turnover of Salespeople, particularly with newer employees. The revolving door of a Sales Department is a huge issue for the company, its clients and the newest hire who gets to make the phone call – “Hi, I’m your new Salesperson!”. Not being prepared for this call can easily make you feel like a fool. You are being blindsided by a client who is taking you to task for past issues that occurred before you started. Here’s the best way to handle those calls.
Is this your situation?
A few years ago, a new Salesperson we were working with at the time asked me for my advice in handling a client who had no interest in meeting with him. He had to make the introductory call informing the decision maker that he was his new Salesperson. Here was the client’s response…
“Do you know how many new Salespeople from your company have called me in the past year? You would now be #3. I’ll tell you what. When you have been on staff for six months, stop by and see me. Until then, I have no interest in training another new Salesperson.”
Ouch, that wasn’t fun
Jamie, the Salesperson, did the only thing that came to mind. He smiled, told the client that he understood, thanked him for his time and left.
When he told me about the shortest meeting he had even had with a client, has asked me two questions:
1. Did I handle that the right way or should I have done more to address his concerns?
2. What do I do now?
Character building moments
Anyone reading this post, knows that Sales is not for timid or shy people. Every one of us has character-building stories that have toughened us up. Those are moments that you reflect back on and realize the valuable lessons learned. They could not have been experienced any other way with the same impact – they just weren’t too much fun at the time.
Yes, Jamie, you handled that exactly the way you should’ve. Many new Salespeople feel that they should address the client’s concerns and attempt to convince them that this time, it’s going to be different – that you have every intention of being their Salesperson for a very long time. Imagine the look on the decision maker’s face when he or she says “That’s what the last person said.”
Understand that no matter what you say currently, it doesn’t matter. The client doesn’t trust you. Your company has little credibility at this point. He or she has already invested lost time with departed Salespeople and is sending you and your Sales Manager a message – Practice on someone else.
The next step
Shrugging your shoulders and moving on from this client is not the answer. Neither is waiting for six months to say “Guess what, I made it!” My advice to Jamie was to find another way to win the client over without violating his probation. Find a creative, humorous way to disassociate himself from the decision maker’s bad experience previously. New Salespeople have to earn the right to be noticed, let alone heard. You must past the test of credibility before even being considered.
- Deliver a handwritten card with a coffee gift card
- Attempt to connect on LinkedIn to start a relationship
- Send the decision maker online links to great articles
- Join a community group that the decision maker belongs to
- Leave the decision maker a tongue-in-cheek voice mail message on the anniversary of each month
Do something that will convince the client that you heard what they said, yet want the opportunity to prove yourself. Few people are so cold-hearted to close the door and never give you the chance to earn their respect.
The 4 Steps to Handle The “New Salesperson” Situation
1. SHUT UP and LISTEN. Fight the urge to sell yourself.
2. Make direct eye contact and nod your head to acknowledge their feelings.
3. Let the client fully vent. They need to get it all out. When finished, that’s your cue to talk.
4. Say nothing in regards to yourself. No one cares about your background, commitment, or previous employment history. Know that this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your client. Adapt the following statements based on your personality and style.
“I understand. I don’t blame you at all for feeling this way.”
“You’re tired of Salespeople making promises that they don’t keep.”
“You don’t trust me because of your past experiences.”
“It might take a very long time for that to change.”
“Just know that when you’re ready, I will look forward to building my relationship with you based on us – not the Salespeople before me.”
“What are you comfortable doing before then?”
Why this works
You can achieve much greater success in listening versus talking. If you want to stand out from other Salespeople – stop acting like other Salespeople. Stop selling and beating your chest like a sales ape. The key to strong relationships with your clients is understanding and being able to relate to them without a personal agenda. That will get you noticed because it’s authentic and sincere.
What happened with Jamie? Jamie received an order from his frustrated client three months after his first call by having the patience and tenacity to allow his client to come around.
What do you think? I’m always interested in knowing how you feel. How do you handle dealing with these types of client situations? Use the comments section below. If you liked this post, share it on your favorite social media platform.
Thanks for reading!
Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY
Author of SHUT UP! Stop Talking and Start Making Money
Available on Kindle and paperback.
Click the link for a preview of the book
and its 5 Star reviews.
I love this new material!
I’ve read your book and most of your posts and praise you for all of the advice you share with salespeople here. I love how it’s not just general wisdom you provide, but specific call to action items, scripts and really detailed examples to guide us through the process.
We all know that cold calling is tough. Really tough. I’ve had many years experience in outside sales, and have found a lot of success in prospecting- but it’s a numbers game. I want you to know that when using the script from your book for the first time one morning, I secured 11 appointments in a few short hours. Your lessons really have improved my numbers in a significant way, which allows me more time to service my existing customers.
Kelsey, there is no greater reward than knowing that a Salesperson is experiencing success by using your suggestions. Thanks for feedback! If you, or any other readers have a blog topic that you think would be of interest, please let me know in the comments section.
Excellent as always Dave :)I did have a similar experience and I immediately started to reference my intentions and experience to assure him. Luckily I stopped talking about myself…and asked him to detail his experience with the company so I could take that information back and see how we ( as any other business) can improve our performance moving forward. He really vented at that point…nothing directed at me personally, just my company. When he finished and started talking about his business category in general I was fortunate to discover he and I knew a few of the same people and things got a little easier. He has only agreed to one campaign this year but at least he responds to emails and phone calls….my company receives consideration. I don’t know if it works for most or if I’m in the minority but when thinking about my approach in general discussion and introduction/small talk, I tend to find something or someone in common with a client and ease into a CNA. I do think a very important part of a call or introduction is connecting on some level. I don’t know if it was something I learned from you but I always strive to be seen as a guy that will help build their business…not someone popping in to take their money and hope for the best. Revenue generation rather than an expense.
Thanks and all the best!
That’s a great story, Ryan. Thanks for the detail. You managed to take an upset client, win his confidence and make him feel comfortable enough to make a purchase. When we realize that selling has LITTLE to do with us and MOSTLY EVERYTHING to do with our client amazing things happen. While our employers offer us an opportunity, our clients are the ones who make it a reality.
I have had this happen to me.
I went to see a client after inheriting said client from another rep who had left the company. I walked in, saw that she had gathered her entire team, sat down and then she proceeded to ‘firmly voice her displeasure’ of the company I was working for. I remember feeling flustered and feeling my face grow hot.
When she paused, I asked if there was anything else I should know. She started again and when she was done, she said that she felt better and that she had pretty much hammered that out. I made a joke about whether my hair was still ok.
I left shortly after that. All told, the meeting was less than 10 minutes.
I sent her the information she requested during that meeting. And information from time to time. Three months later, she emailed me to thank me for the improvement in communication. She needed to be heard, I just needed to listen.
It’s great that you’re sharing an actual client event, Jennifer. So much can be gained by knowing when to SHUT UP and LISTEN. Decision makers are people who simply want to be HEARD, especially after they feel that no one from that company has listened to them before. Your ability to use humor at the right time provides a moment for the client to laugh and walk away from past experiences. Top-performing Salespeople know that the greatest power of influence is the ability to LISTEN, not talk. Thanks for sharing this, Jennifer.
I 100% agree with you. As sales people, the power of listening is underestimated. And letting clients fully vent is crucial. Sometimes it is so tempting to get the finally word in, or explain to clients our point of view. But it is not going to help, nor is it going to build a relationship with the client.
Great material Dave, and as the Jamie that you are referring to, I appreciate the training I received from you to get me through that situation. And I can honestly say that I still do a lot of the items you suggest above. Hand written messages to a client are brilliant, as it shows you took time to do something specific for them. So rarely happens now a days.
Thanks for the comment, Jamie. Great Salespeople know when to talk and when to listen. At times, it can be tough because of your enthusiasm to best educate the client, yet timing is crucial. I’m glad to hear that you found great practical application to our suggestions. It puts a smile on my face to know that you are having success with the techniques a year after the training.