There is a dirty word in sales and client relations that no sales rep wants to say, "no". Most salespeople are in the profession because they have an innate desire to be appreciated by people. Even much of the competitiveness comes from wanting more adoration, than fellow employees, from managers and customers.
With this hard-baked desire to serve customers and receive praise, how do we know when it is time to say no for the customer's own good? Even to possibly cause the loss of a potential sale, by not being willing to acquiesce to a request. Finding the balance of satisfying the customer and keeping what makes your product successful is one of the hardest balancing acts in business today.
Here are some guidelines learned from deals lost.
Define the time.
One of the easiest places to over-promise is the time of a deliverable. Our business is in staffing, and we are consistently asked to almost immediately find an employee to hire. My first instinct is to say, "We are right on it." I mean we are going to make sure there is no delay and my client gets to hire as fast as possible, they hear that we are going to deliver a person tomorrow.
In the back of my mind I know that rushing hiring leads to poor decisions, and high turn-over. It may not seem like it to the client, but frequently the customer ends up in a worse position rushing a hiring than they are being without the position filled for a little longer. Here is a case where it is imperative that we explain the estimated time and why.
Uphold your process identity
Every successful salesperson and business has a process they follow to present or deliver their product in the most efficient way possible. Many times customers want to short circuit the process, usually because they perceive a time savings and do not understand the value. If you act like an unwavering robot clients will feel like you are not attempting to understand their needs. So how do you know when it is time to be flexible or hold to your process?
We use the identity litmus test, will the change impact our product or values? Here is an example; we recently had a client ask us not to notify candidates when they are not being considered any longer for a position. We do this so applicants aren't waiting around for a decision and can move on to pursuing other jobs. According to candidates we survey, communicating quickly is the #1 factor that makes them satisfied with the application process. We decided that the notifications are a must, it is part of our culture.
Do not degrade your value
Everyone wants something extra, "Can you throw that in?". The question that makes salespeople quake, and one of the hardest to handle. The best salespeople want to get a deal done, and seek the easiest path. So if it is economically feasible what is the harm in just throwing in the ______ (service, widget, accessory)?
The problem comes in the lessening of perceived value in your product. When you throw in something the customer feels it was of no value, or you wouldn't be giving it away. Even worse, they might think they are over-paying because you are now willing to add things by lessening your profit. It starts to be a no-win situation. The key is asking for additional money for anything added. You may eventually acquiesce, but not before establishing the value and why it can't just be handed out for free.
We are definitely not perfect, and the only way we have learned when to say no is through painful lessons. Clients lost when we were trying everything to do exactly what they wanted. Hopefully we help you avoid the same mistakes.
Greg Gershman - Employer Brand Ambassador - Recruitment HQ