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The Cure When The Stench of Bad Customer Service Occurs

You Get the Chicken by Letting the Egg Hatch not By hitting the Egg with a Hammer

Dear Lee,

One of my best accounts whom I’ve done business with for years informed me that they plan to leave us because of the frustration they’ve experienced with my company. At issue are numerous problems related to accounting/billing and support related items. Any thoughts you could give me on strategies to gain back their confidence?

Becca C. -

Dear Becca,

The other day my daughter called me in a panic because she had run out of gas on a busy highway. As any Father would, I immediately stopped what I was in the middle of doing to assist her. While loading the gas gan I noticed the gas can’s air lid was missing, so I covered it with a blanket - feeling proud of myself for being so "industrious" in preventing any spillage.

However much to my chagrin, spillage did occur and gas soaked through the blanket so much that I was lucky not to have passed out from the fumes!  Once I got close to the scene I was shocked to see a police car with flashing lights and a wrecked van in the grassy median and immediately I knew that she had been rear ended despite the flashing of her hazard lights. Thankfully, the accident turned out to be minor and no one was injured. As I drove my vehicle home the stench from the spilled gasoline was so overwhelming that I had to put my windows down to avoid losing my vision! Once home, I attempted multiple remedies but none were successful in eradicating the smell of gasoline. I tried vinegar which made the car smell like cabbage soup with a touch of vinegar, an aerosol car freshener which made the car smell like minty wood – with a strong touch of gasoline, freshener in a can, freshener on a rope and finally a combination of all these together. Finally after a few days, I simply left the windows open on my vehicle for a few hours each day (coupled with two cans of freshener) and the gasoline smell went from dizzying to nauseating to tolerable to negligible to gone!

Becca, sometimes as an independent sales agent you will face circumstances where a deal is delayed, or a client relationship is severely compromised due to a product or service issue beyond your control.  Spillage if you will.  A good teacher doesn’t give up on his student because she fails a test nor should you give up when a client disengages, delays or becomes frustrated with you and your company.  I had to try a number of remedies to get the gas fumes eliminated from my daughter’s vehicle. Likewise, you will need to try a number of remedies to gain back their trust and confidence. Overcoming the stench created by your company will take a sincere and dedicated effort on your part however, utilizing a strategy combining humility, advocacy, sincerity & creativity with strong business principles, will help you to turn around this valuable account. Here are a few suggestions, which I hope will help:

I. Write a Letter apologizing to your client about the unfortunate “leakage” that occurred and give them your word that you will work diligently to rectify it to the best of your abilities. Also, remind the client why they chose you and your company as the preferred vendor in the first place.

II. Contact your best client and request a favor. Ask them to contact your disgruntled account and provide them with a personal reference vouching for your character and professionalism.

III. When you have a bad apple you shouldn’t go to the barrel – but rather the tree (which in this case is your company).  Therefore you should work closely, with the Sr. Management of your company and request that they meet personally with the account. This will encourage ownership of the problem and potential solution by individuals above you. Additionally it will provide your account with assurance that you have their best interest at heart. In other words, you are their advocate.

IV. Provide future products or services such as training at a discounted price.

V. Provide a 12 month written plan (approved by your Management team), increasing their confidence that the chance of the problems which led to their current dissatisfaction are reduced to a minimum

VI. Update the decision makers and each week with the progress of your efforts as well as, your own Management team.

Becca, as previously mentioned, you will need to try multiple solutions to eradicate the “smelly circumstance” but with time, with patience and with confident conviction you will regain the loyalty of your client and create a customer for life!

For questions regarding Leadership and Performance topics or to book Lee as a Keynote Speaker for your group he can be reached at [email protected] OR 832 567 8512. Actual names in the Coach Novak series  will not be used without permission. 

More Stories By Lee Novak

Lee Novak is a twenty-five year Sales Management Executive who uses a proven people-first, client-first philosophy. Lee has a reputation for building teams that not only are high performance groups but also who do business the right way, at the right time and for the right reasons. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his sales leadership, innovativeness and measured performance, while working in various Executive roles at ADP Dealer Services (a Fortune 500 company in the technology and service sector) for twenty one years - where he was responsible for over $ 600,000,000 in revenue during his tenure. Lee is currently Partner at Novak Enterprise Consulting which focuses on Sales Management Coaching, Associate Development, Improving Sales Performance and Life Enrichment Coaching and he is a respected keynote speaker for corporate and award banquet events.