Be flexible in reacting to unusual situations

If you have been following my articles you are familiar with my Track Selling System.

The Track Selling System takes you through the selling process step by step, leaving nothing to chance. But this is just a procedure to be learned and practiced.

In real life things sometimes just don't happen the way it should. Sales calls don't happen how the book describes. What now?

When the unexpected and unusual happens, you need to draw upon the philosophy of the Track Selling System to help you through the situation. This entails acting within the ethical guidelines that you have learned.

So let's take a look at some situations you may find yourself in:

  • You are on your sales call and the prospect says, "Look, I'm really very busy. Just leave your brochures and price lists and I'll get back to you." Now what do you do?

    "Mr. (Prospect's name), I would like to tell you about our (product or service). However, in order for me to do the best job I possibly can for you, I need to ask you a couple of questions. Is that all right?"

    If your prospect gives you approval, begin by asking good qualification questions. For example, you might ask:

    "How are you presently handling your problems with such-and-such?"

    "How do you feel about ...?"

    "May I ask what you like most about ...?"

    People prefer talking to listening. No matter how busy your prospects are, you will usually find they have time to talk about what they want to talk about.

    It is possible that the prospect really is too busy to talk. You have to respect that, but again don't just hand the person your brochure and price list. Your goal is to be of service to the person.

    In order to do that you have to have certain information. At this point the objective is to get an appointment to come back at a time more convenient to the prospect when he or she has the time to discuss how you might be of service.

    In this situation you need to address the business reasons for your call. However, there are no shortcuts in the selling process. You still must sell yourself, therefore it is necessary to move back into rapport building as quickly as possible.

    These two steps, approach and qualification, can go back and forth between qualifying your prospect and establishing rapport.

  • Let's suppose that you have introduced and qualified your prospect. You have gathered enough information that will allow you to serve your prospect's needs. You are just about to summarize your client's needs when the prospect begins asking you about the price of your product or service.

    In the sales procedure price is not handled until after the prospect agrees with your summary and after you sell the company. What do you do?

    Act, don't react. Maintain control. You must keep the steps of the sales procedure in precise order to carry the prospect smoothly through the five buying decisions.

    How do most salespeople react to that question? They answer it. They tell the prospect the price, and what they've done is jump from trying to understand exactly what the client needs all the way to the end of the sales call when price is handled.

    When the prospect asks you a question about the price, say, "Joe, I'm glad you asked me that. That's an important question. In order for me to determine the best price I can give you, I need to ask you a couple of questions. Is that all right?"

    You must always respond to your prospect or you lose communication. You stay on track by following your response with a question: "In order for me to determine the best price I can give you I need to ask you a couple of questions. Is that all right?" Then ask questions related to price such as quality, delivery, service, and all other factors in your business that relate to price.

  • Your prospect wants to buy your product or service, but you personally feel it doesn't meet the person's or company's needs. What do you do?

    First, keep in mind that people buy for their reasons, not your reasons or their company's reasons. In the prospect's mind, the purchase may make complete sense.

    The person may feel the purchase will help him or her gain something, avoid losing something, provide comfort and convenience, security and protection, pride of ownership, or satisfaction of emotion. The purchase may not make sense to you, but it may make perfect sense to the prospect. As long as the sale doesn't harm the customer, there is nothing wrong with letting him/her buy what he/she wants.

  • Your prospect wants to buy your product or service but you know the purchase may be damaging to the company. For example, paying for the product or service may put the company in a precarious financial situation. What do you do?

    You have no right to sell people things they don't want, can't use, or can't afford.

    Here is an example of how one insurance salesperson handled this kind of situation. After he had reviewed the prospect's policy, he said, "I think what you've got right here is perfect for your needs. I would hurt you if I changed your policy." He then walked away from a $50,000 sale.

    The prospect, needless to say, was stunned. He said, "I can't believe what I've just heard! I've had five other salespeople in here looking at this policy. Every one of them said it was terrible. Every one of them suggested I buy something else. I'm really glad to hear you confirm what I've thought all along, my present coverage is exactly what I need."

    A couple of weeks later, the salesperson's phone rang. It was a friend of the prospect whose coverage wasn't changed. The man on the other end of the line said, "My friend told me that if I ever wanted to meet an honest salesperson, I should call you."

    The salesperson met with the referral and sold him a $500,000 policy!

    The salesperson said, "I'd hurt you if I changed your policy." He walked away from a $50,000 sale and made a $500,000 sale instead.

    That's not always going to happen. You may walk away from a sale and never hear from the prospect again. You may get no referrals. That's reality, but you've acted with integrity, and in the long run, it's going to pay off.

    Procedures are important to follow in professional selling. But what is more important is that you embrace the philosophy of professional selling when unusual selling situations arise. Always act with integrity and in the prospect's best interests and you will be able to hold your head high.



    Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.