It’s pretty safe to say that if at all possible in our business and personal lives we prefer for our conversations and engagements to be happy, easy, and smooth. I don’t know too many people who would prefer controversy and “difficult conversations” over a situation where everyone gets along and things go according to plan. This dynamic of “everything is awesome” naturally carries over to the profession of sales. Sales reps want to present their products and/or services to their prospects in the best possible light, and in the process do whatever they can to avoid any negative angle that could be cast on what their selling. However, the true pro sales rep knows how to appropriately and artfully program in certain points in their pitch that insert reality into the situation, and use that as a point to highlight the human touch their company has to offer. This blog is all about how the best sales reps are able to effectively turn a negative into a positive, increase their chance of winning, lay landmines for their competition, and futureproof the relationship with their clients.
The Avoidance Problem of Junior Sales Reps
You know that feeling we all get when things seem too good to be true? When things are overly polished, or after we’ve heard too many “but wait, there’s more” in a pitch it’s human nature to start to look at the pitch with a bit of suspicion. Unfortunately, this is what most sales people unwittingly introduce into their sales process as they make their highly proficient and rehearsed pitches to their prospects. At first glance this is only natural. After all, what sales rep would expect to be successful if they pitched their product and/or services in a negative light effectively throwing cold water on their audience. Clearly, sales reps must make the case that their wares will solve their prospects problems, and do a better job of it than any perceived competition.
This aspect of competition is where sales reps can really dive into covering all of their angles. Sales reps of competing companies will often lay landmines for their competition by exposing to their shared prospect the weakness or issues with the other competing company. Thus, sales reps go to great lengths to prepare for these arguments and use their craft to deftly defuse the landmine set by their competition, making their prospect feel at ease.
But what if there was another way? What if you could take some of these perceived “negatives” and somehow turn them into a positive point that will turn the landmine back on the competition that set it in the first place while concurrently serving to win the hearts of your prospect and set the stage for a great long-term relationship.
How the Best Sales Reps Turn a Negative Into a Positive
There is a clear rule here that everyone needs to understand.
With that premise in mind sales reps can effectively change the game. Let’s look at two different scenarios to see how this concept seamlessly plays out.
Scenario 1 – Global Supply Chain Issues
Unless you’ve been deep in the woods separated from society working on that manifesto you’ve noticed the global supply chain crisis, which The Guardian claims can last for another two years. Clearly this is not your fault, it’s not my fault, and it’s not your prospects fault. Rather, this is simply a situation that we all find ourselves in thanks to a global pandemic that just won’t quit. With that being said let’s look at how this fits into a sales story of a product packaging service supplier.
The Pitch | Strategically Inserting the Negative for Positive Outcomes
We all know that there is a global supply chain crisis going on. We have strategically put multiple layers in place so we have a large source of suppliers to ensure our ability to provide continuous service to you. However, here’s the thing… While we are not experiencing any issues, and we’re doing what we can to prevent this from occurring, we can’t guarantee that this won’t happen to us as there are factors outside of our control. However, what’s very much within our control is how we respond if this comes up. If we find ourselves in this situation we promise to do right by you by informing you on exactly what the situation is in clear black & white terms. We will tell you what we’re doing to mitigate the issue, and/or we will present you with your options, and we will do everything we can to make this right and sort this out on your behalf.
Scenario 2 – Selling Technology
You know that saying “to err is to human” that means to be human is to make mistakes? Yeah, well you could basically substitute the word “human” out for “technology”. No matter how good technology in terms of software or hardware is it will invariably fail. Essentially, you could take a very similar approach above by stating that if in the future there is an issue with the technology you will take care of the customer because you care.
Pro Tip: Have a “When the Crap Hits the Fan” References. Yes, you want references for your product or service that speaks to the great job it does for your customers. However, it’s great to have references that speak to how your company responded with conditions were not ideal. This brings a whole different level of trust to the table that pays massive dividends.
Effectively, what you’re doing in the above scenarios is two things…
1. Proactively inserting reality into the situation
By inserting reality into the situation you’re proactively removing the “too good to be true” thought from entering into the mind of your prospect. Furthermore, you can use this against your less sophisticated competition by saying something along the lines of “anyone who tells you otherwise is not giving you the full truth that’s not the foundation for a good relationship”.
2. Promoting the value of partnering with your company
What you’re doing here is making a point of the fact that behind your product or service is a group of people that deeply care about your customer. Sometimes unexpected things happen and when they do your team will show up to help see them through it.
The Fall Out Filter
By proactively inserting these seemingly “negative” factors into your pitch you’re guiding the conversation down a path of reality and setting the stage for a good trusting and long term relationship. However, is there some risk with this tactic of proactively inserting what could be construed as negative? Sure there is! You could very well lose the prospect. However, while this may be frustrating you’ve actually just saved yourself a ton of future frustration because anyone who can’t handle the thought of anything going wrong is not a customer you want to have. This process serves as a great filter for weeding out customers that will ultimately be way more trouble than they’re worth.
The Wrap Up
Sales people should never be afraid to bring up potential negative scenarios when selling their product or service. In fact, by doing so it shows that you are honest and upfront with your customers, which builds trust. Furthermore, by including a plan for how you will handle such situations if they do arise, you show that you care about your customer’s well-being and are willing to go the extra mile to make things right. This type of customer service can set your company apart from the competition, win more deals, and set the appropriate stage for a great long term relationship with your customers.