A customer in crisis

Around 10 years ago I had a customer in a crisis.

It was really bad.

But, it was at that point I learned a valuable lesson:

You never know the value of your vendor or salesperson when things are going well.

You need to watch how they react when the sh*t really hits the fan.  Here’s how I reacted.

When the crisis hit, our prospect was around 70% through his buying cycle. Then, one of his software developers sabotaged their customer-facing software and quit.

He told us everything would have to be put on hold.

It was a tough situation for our prospect because it was affecting his customers.  While it seemed like our deal was in jeopardy, it really presented us with the opportunity to do good for him…and good for us.

We decided to give him our software with exceptionally good terms. He was already under financial pressure from having consultants on-site trying to clear up the mess with his application.

The generous terms seemed like they would ease his pain.

He could get goodwill from his customers, and we would still make the sale…and a friend.

This is one of the most artful calls you will make in sales. You must be helpful and empathetic, appear not to be self-serving, and get the deal done. Here’s the conversation:

“Hi Ted, I’m calling to see how you are doing after that horrible incident with your developer.” Pause here and let them tell you the story. Ask a few sincere questions and listen. Do not interrupt.

At the appropriate time say, “I was thinking about your situation, and I had an idea. At this point, wouldn’t it be great if you could offer something to your customers and not have it hit your wallet right away?” Ted confirmed that would be great.

“First, let me say Ted this is not totally unselfish on our part.” (This is statement is crucial because you’re bringing up the elephant in the room which is, what’s in it for you Louie?

You continue; “We want you as a customer, but we really want you as a happy customer. Let’s go ahead and sign you up for our software.

You can then let your customers use it and enjoy its benefits, so they are not thinking about how upset they are. You don’t pay us anything for 90 days while you work out everything else. You have enough to deal with.”

Ted agreed to this and became a long-term, happy customer.

Key lesson:  Be prepared for this type of situation.  Think of three ways a prospect could buy your product even if a catastrophe strikes them. Hint: Terms are not the only way.

Have any stories like this to share?  Please put them in the comments so we can all learn.

90% of sales outcomes are a result of what’s going on under the surface. I call this The Iceberg Effect. As salespeople that 90% will have a profound impact on your income. If you want to control and improve that 90% go here or Follow me on LinkedIn here. 

Factional sales management
Fractional sales management