Paul tackles the tough situation in which the seller gives the customer incorrect pricing.
Remember…everyone makes mistakes. Take ownership of the mistake and acknowledge it to the customer.
Explain the misunderstanding and do your best to resolve the situation. You may win greater loyalty from the customer.
Tap into your loyal customers for some testimonials on your business integrity. Share these with the unhappy customer.
Offer to bring a technical expert in for another set of eyes and ears.
Try again on this customer’s next project.
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What if I give the customer the wrong information?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s show, we’re going to answer a question from the website. This individual has chosen to remain anonymous, so we’re not going to use their name, however, here is the situation. So, the salesperson went out in the field, they’re selling industrial solutions to pumps, and they visited a client, and the technician admitted him to the facility. Now, when he was meeting with the technician, they were discussing the solution, and the customer asked what the price was, and he misunderstood the question—wasn’t exactly sure what the solution was—so he quoted the wrong price, which led to an objection because the price he shared was completely unreasonable. It was so high that the customer actually ended the meeting on the spot. This is all just a misunderstanding, but this salesperson wants to know, “Hey, I’ve got to revisit this customer again, but how do I overcome that bad first impression I made, or how do I get the correct information in front of the customer?”
Here’s the question we’re going to answer: How do I correct a situation where I have given the client false information unknowingly? This happens. Salespeople do this—not all the time—but it’s not uncommon. So we’re going to talk about how to get through this today.
Before we get into answering that question, just a reminder, we are facing tough times. There’s economic uncertainty; there’s a recession. All this is going on, but there’s opportunity through these tough times and that’s what we focus on in Selling Through Tough Times. So pick up your copy.
Not only that, check our training website out: TomReillyTraining.com. If you need more than just a book, if you want to get together for our two-day live sales training event, we’re going to host it in January in St. Louis, Missouri. When you attend this training, you are going to sell more profitably based on value and not price. This two-day event is going to be your go-to guide to help you make 2023 the best sales year of your career. So, it’s going to be in January. We’re not announcing the dates quite yet. We’re going to have more details on it soon. But if you want to learn more about this training, we’re going to have a link to the description on this episode’s webpage. So check that out.
Let’s get back to the question. I’m going to share a couple ideas, maybe five or six, on how to really get back in there because, yes, this is tough. As you mentioned in the description, you created a bad first impression, and you did it unknowingly. But regardless, it’s still an impression that the customer has. Now, we all know that a first impression is a lasting impression. So yeah, we’re in a tough spot. But you can work past it. You can work past it. So first and foremost, what we need to do is we need to remind ourselves that hey, everyone makes mistakes. It’s not like you were purposely trying to mislead the customer. You unknowingly gave the wrong price. So, first of all, give yourself a break. It’s not going to be the end of the world, but what you do need to do is acknowledge your mistake.
So I would reach back out to this customer and just explain the situation, but most importantly, acknowledge that it was your mistake. Just say, “Hey, there was a misunderstanding. You shared this information, I misinterpreted it, and as a result of that, I gave you the wrong pricing, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” However, you want to explain it. Just make sure you own the mistake and apologize: “I’m sorry.” It’s amazing how those two words, I’m sorry, are very powerful. Once those words are out there in the open, the healing can begin. So just mention to the customer, you’re sorry. It happens. That’s number one: acknowledge your mistake.
Number two, explain how the misunderstanding happened. People realize that nobody is 100% 100% of the time. In fact, when you make a mistake and customers are satisfied by the resolution of your mistake, they can actually become more loyal to you. So, this may end up being an opportunity for you to generate more loyalty with this customer. So, what I would do is explain what happened. Explain the misunderstanding. And here’s what I would do. I don’t know exactly what you do, but I know you sell industrial solutions that involve industrial-type pumps. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say what you are selling is a technically complex, or it’s a highly technical type of sale.
Any time you’re selling a technically complex product, or it’s a highly technical sale, there are several factors that will influence the price of an overall solution. So, what I would do is go back and again, acknowledge your mistake, say you’re sorry, and then mention to the customer, “I owe you an explanation of how this happened.” Give them a brief explanation as to what you misinterpreted, how it happened, but also make sure you’re explaining the technical complexity of what you’re selling. That’s going to help give you an out, so to speak. So that’s the first piece. That’s how we get back in the good graces of the customer.
Point number three: we need to empathize with this customer. And so here’s what you might say to that customer. Say to the customer, “I understand that if, gosh, if I was in your position, I would’ve been equally as frustrated with our meeting. And I gave you the wrong pricing information, so for that, I apologize. But the last thing I want to do is give you the impression that I was trying to mislead you or trying to overcharge you for that. And so, in an effort to get past that, I put together a couple of testimonials from other customers that I work with.” And in that testimonial, you want to emphasize your integrity.
Okay, so here’s what I would do. I would reach out to a couple of your other customers—customers that you have a good, solid relationship with—and ask them for a testimonial. And there’s a good chance your customer will say, “Sure, I’ll put together a testimonial. What would you like me to say?” Just mention to him, “If you feel as though I have treated you fairly, with integrity, mention something like that.” And have the customer mention it. And then, you can go back and you can share that information with the customer.
And again, how you do it is, you say, “Mr. Customer, I understand our first meeting did not go well, and again, that’s my fault, but I’m concerned that you may think that I was trying to mislead you or overcharge you, or I was quoting an unfairly high price, and that’s not the way I do business. In fact, here are a few testimonials from some of my existing customers.” What you’re doing there is you’re providing proof. You’re providing proof to help get you past that negative first impression. So get those testimonials going.
Next thing: you can bring in a different person. Remember if you’re selling a technically complex solution, industrial solutions, pumps, things like that, I’m sure you have technical people on your team. Bring that technical person with you. And here’s how you present that. Reach out to the customer and say, “Hey, give me another chance to get together. I believe our solution can create some real value for your facility. In an effort to bring an expert along, I’m going to bring our technical person. He’s going to come in, he’s going to help answer questions. This way, we can make sure that we’re providing you with the most technically sound information.”
So you’re bringing in a technical person with you. And what this will do is give your buyer some reassurance that they’re going to have another set of eyes in there, another set of ears as well, and also provide another level of expertise. So offer to bring in that technical expert.
Let’s call this tip number five. Next thing we want to do, maybe we look to the next opportunity. Maybe we look to the next opportunity, which means, okay, this initial solution that you’re talking about, maybe you ended up losing the opportunity, or they decided to go in a different direction. Let’s put that behind us and reach back out to the customer and say, “You know, why don’t we look to the next project? What’s going on two to three months from now? Or what’s coming up down the road?” And what you can do, again, this is assuming that you’ve already apologized, you’ve taken ownership, you’ve acknowledged your mistake, you’ve even provided some testimonials. At some level this buyer is going to appreciate your persistence. So now that you’re looking towards the next opportunity, you need to make sure that you create the right first impression from the beginning. And so, we need to practice, we need to prepare, and that’s part of it. As you look to that next opportunity, just make sure you’re prepared.
And one more thing, one final idea here to create that positive first impression. You know, people love complimentary services and value-added extras. So maybe in an effort to mend the fence with this customer, go back and offer some complimentary products or services. Perhaps your company offers a service to go in and analyze their current industrial pumps to make sure they’re operating at full capacity. Maybe you could provide that service at no charge. You know what? Maybe you could provide some additional training. Let’s think about this for a moment. Let’s say you’ve already worked with this customer in the past. You’ve got other products of yours in this facility. What if you go to that customer and say, “Hey, why don’t we do this? Let me bring in my technical team just to analyze some of the previous solutions that we’ve provided, and if there’s a way to upgrade them or enhance them, we’ll provide you a detailed report on how to make that happen.” You know, that would be a great way to get back in to create some value for this individual as well.
So maybe additional training, maybe it’s a lunch-and-learn where you invite some of your customers, and then you bring your technical person in. Do a little lunch-and-learn. Build a little goodwill. And what’s going to happen after doing all of these things, these repeated exposures, it’s going to help you get past that negative first impression. And again, I can’t emphasize this enough, acknowledge your mistake. At some level, just leveling with the customer and saying, “I screwed up. My bad. That’s on me. Can we figure out a way to move forward?” Appealing to them and showing that you’re eager to make up for it, I think that’s going to put you in the right position.
Make it a big day.