Great salespeople are solution providers, but even the best salespeople eventually have to deliver bad news to a prospect or client – delivery delays, supply chain issues, incorrect orders – and what happens when it’s time to deliver bad news can make or break the relationship.
If we’re not solution providers even when things go wrong, we shouldn’t be trusted to provide solutions when everything is going right.
A sales leader whose industry has been hit hard by supply chain issues during COVID is Ingo Heiland. To ensure his salespeople maintained their relationships even when delivering bad news, he had to ensure they had an efficient way to communicate supply chain delays to prospects.
Because we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: First, Ingo advises not to wait until something goes wrong before we communicate. Instead, we should have regular communication scheduled in our CRM in order to maintain a personal relationship.
When a salesperson recognizes that they need to communicate bad news to a prospect, Ingo recommends communicating as soon as possible and instead of just being contrite, use it as an opportunity to deepen the relationship.
R – Repeatable: To ensure salespeople are following consistent steps in delivering less-than desirable news, Ingo says salespeople should focus just as much on delivering bad news as delivering good news. That may mean a simple checklist salespeople can use that states what the agreement was, why the salesperson’s company won’t be able to fulfill it and what they’re doing to fix it.
Of course, always set a follow-up on the calendar to get back in touch with the prospect and update them on any developments.
I – Improvable: In order to improve this process, salespeople should capture both what went wrong and the conversation they had with the prospect. This way, leadership can track how many times a particular issue is coming up and how long it takes salespeople to communicate that to prospects.
Each of those items can be used to improve the commitments salespeople make in the future and their responsiveness to prospects and customers.
M – Measurable: To measure the effectiveness of a process like this, salespeople can check on both how many clients/prospects are retained after they heard bad news, and how many we lose to competitors who don’t have the problem we’re facing.