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To Tell or Not to Tell?

By Jethro September 14, 2018

As Sales People, we often get bad news that we know our customer is not going to be happy about.  A late production date, the product was discontinued, you cannot fulfill the promise made… what ever it is, as Sales People we are often faced with bad news that we know our customer is not going to be happy about.  So do we tell or not tell?  Here is the question you must ask yourself.  “If I were in my customer’s shoes would I want to know?”  The answer… ‘ABSOLUTELY!!’.  When it comes to BAD NEWS – ALWAYS TELL!  

Too often Sales People avoid delivering the bad news hoping that under some miraculous circumstance it will be fixed, or they simply bury their head hoping the customer never finds out.  Why?  Because they know the news is going to come with a lot of ‘consequences’ – your customer is likely going to exhibit anger, disappointment, frustration, all of which is going to produce a highly emotional charge, and possibly even an out burst.  All of which are going to leave you feeling a tower high dose of REJECTION!!  And who wants to face that?? No one!!!  

But here is the thing… avoiding it, pretending it is going to go away, hoping the customer doesn’t find out are choices that are not going to serve you well.  Why?  Because you are leaving your customer to hang by themselves.  Instead, do the following: 

  • TELL THE CUSTOMER BAD NEWS RIGHT AWAY:  Muster up the courage and just do it!  No it isn’t going to pleasant.  But giving your customer the bad news as soon as possible, allows them the opportunity to do what they need to do.  And yes, that might even result in finding another supplier, meaning in the short term you might lose the sale, but in the long term, you will gain something more valuable…. RESPECT!!  You can never go wrong by doing the ‘right’ thing.    
  • SAY NOTHING – LET THEM PROCESS!  When you deliver the bad news, deliver it and say nothing until they are finished processing. That may be a big loud rant or silent angry thinking.  Whatever it is, don’t say anything until they are done.  
  • BE HONEST:  Be completely honest – do not lead your customer on to believe a better outcome will come, if you know it never will.  Good, bad or ugly, give them the facts.  In the long run, your honesty will earn you respect. 
  • WORK HARD TO FIND RESOLUTION OR AN ALTERNATIVE COURSE OF ACTION:  Hopefully you can deliver the bad news with a few alternatives or resolutions in hand, if not, assure your customer you are going to do everything possible to find a solution.
  • FOLLOW UP REGULARLY:  Even if you have nothing to offer, follow up regularly to let your client know what you are doing and what the status of the situation is.  

NON-COMMUNICATION OF ANY TYPE IS KILLER!!  YOUR CUSTOMER DESERVES TO BE INFORMED AT ALL TIMES!!  AND IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DO SO!!  Selling is a based on relationships, and you enter into the agreement as partners.  The world is full of Sales People who lack integrity and fail to do the right thing out of fear – don’t be one of those.

Help your customer by delivering bad news as soon as possible.  Give your customer the time and opportunity to make choices and take immediate action so they are not burdened with the entire responsibility of a transaction gone bad.  Just are you have to face the consequences of bad news, they too will likely have to bear the same heat.  A sales rep who is accountable, who takes responsibility, and who is upfront and honest, is one that will gain respect and will rise to the top as a SUPERSTAR!  

Jackie Rainforth is a global award-winning sales & leadership winning speaker, sales trainer, & business growth consultant, author of The Badass Guide to Selling, (Amazon),. For additional information on Jackie’s keynote presentations and seminars,call 1-403-615-2333 or email [email protected] www.RainmakersGroup.ca and signup for their free monthly sales tips, blog or newsletter.