In keeping your promise to help your clients produce the outcomes that you sold them, inevitably, there will be problems and challenges. The more important the outcome, or the more difficult it is to obtain, the more certain you can be that there will be issues and challenges that take you and your team to the edge.
You may know how to put the train back on the tracks, but unless your client knows what you are doing, you aren’t doing anything.
Let Them Know That You Know
Sometimes your client won’t call you to report that there is a problem. Sometimes you will find out there is a problem only after someone on your team informs you.
As the person who sold and promised the outcome that is in jeopardy, you are responsible for letting your client know that you know there is a problem. Your call means that you care, and it means that when your client looks over their shoulder, you are going to be right there in the foxhole with them. You can be trusted.
This doesn’t mean you are necessarily the right person to solve their problem. It means that you are going to take responsibility and own the problem. It means that you are going to ensure that it is eventually resolved.
No call means you are doing nothing to help your client (even if you are).
What Action Are You Taking?
Sometimes you and your whole organization may be making every effort to help resolve your client’s problem, but if no one informs the client, they believe you are doing nothing.
Your obligation as a professional salesperson (and as a trusted advisor, if that is what you aspire to) is to let your client know exactly what you are doing and when they can expect their problem to be resolved.
If your team is taking action, let your client know that you are taking action. Otherwise . . .
What Are You Doing Now?
If your client’s problem can’t be quickly resolved, long periods of time without updates quickly descend into a belief that you aren’t doing anything—or that you aren’t doing enough.
You need to give your client a status update as to what actions are being taken, what results you expect, and when you will give them another status update. The bigger the problem and the more critical the outcome, the more frequent the updates.
Is this always your job as a salesperson? It probably isn’t. But you do have to make enough of these calls yourself to help prove that you care and that you and your team are still pulling out all of the stops to resolve the problems.
What Will Prevent Future Problems?
When it is all said and done and the problem is finally resolved, you owe your client another call. You owe your client a call to tell them how you resolved the problem and what will prevent a reoccurrence. This probably isn’t a call for you as a salesperson to make. But it is your job to make sure that the call gets made.
Not calling to inform your client what you are going to do to prevent having the same problem again in the future means you aren’t doing anything.
It is your job to make sure that the problem is resolved to the client’s satisfaction, and that they believe it was handled properly.
If you would have deep, trust-based relationships and referenceable clients, you don’t need to never have any problems. That isn’t realistic and businesspeople know it. You do have to handle the problems well and professionally, and that means communication.
When you have a problem with something that you have purchased and you report an issue, what do you believe is being done if no one gets back to you?
What would make you feel that someone cared deeply about helping you?
If a salesperson sold you something that wasn’t getting the result they promised, who has the responsibility to communicate and own that problem for you?
If the salesperson never communicated with you about the problem, how likely is it that you would buy from them again?
(These are harder questions when framed this way, no?)
As a professional salesperson, what are your obligations in communicating what you and your company are doing to resolve the problem? What obligations belong to someone else and why?
Subscribe to my weekly podcast In the Arena.