Tough Calls:
Selling Strategies to Win Over
Your Most Difficult Customers

                        Part I
Overview
   Author Josh Gordon conducted a national
    survey that consisted of 3 separate mailings
    and received ove...
Why Understand This?
   1 of 6 clients in the USA is a problem client
   Services have more problems than products
   T...
Book is designed…
   Most frequent to least frequent problem clients
   Divided into 3 sections to help you…
       Pit...
Survival & Opportunity- Pg 205

“If every client you had handed you an order
   without a fight, salespeople and client co...
The Client Who…
Grinds You On Price
   Most frequent problem client- get a lower price
   Pitfalls:
       Getting so f...
The Client Who…
Grinds You On Price
   Selling Strategies:
       When asked for a concession, ask for something
       ...
The Client Who…
Grinds You On Price
   Closing Strategies:
       If you make a price concession, close on it!
       M...
The Client Who…
Will Not See You
   There are salespeople… you are just not one
    of them
       You have to get in
 ...
The Client Who…
Will Not See You
   Selling Strategies:
       Ask yourself, “Why would I see me?”
       Send a non-sa...
The Client Who…
Will Not See You
   Closing Strategies:
       Be specific
       Promise a benefit
       Think about...
The Client Who…
Has No Buying Authority
   Watch out for “information gatherers” who
    channel info to the right people...
The Client Who…
Has No Buying Authority
   Selling Strategies:
       Motivate the buyer to admit he/she has no authorit...
The Client Who…
Has No Buying Authority
   How do you get a commitment from someone
    who cannot make one?
   Closing ...
The Client Who…
Loves What You Say Then Does Not Buy

   This buyer finds it easier to give no
    resistance, then buys ...
The Client Who…
Loves What You Say Then Does Not Buy

   Selling Strategies:
       Bring up the objections yourself
   ...
The Client Who…
Loves What You Say Then Does Not Buy

   Closing Strategies:
       Be direct & ask for specifics
     ...
The Client Who…
Complains About Everything
   Pitfalls:
       Agreeing with the complainer about your product
        a...
The Client Who…
Complains About Everything
   Selling Strategies:
       Set the buyer up to work for you
       Ask yo...
The Client Who…
Complains About Everything
   Closing Strategies:
       Say, “I understand the concern you have; if it
...
The Client Who…
Says, “It’s not in the budget.”
   Pitfalls:
       Taking the “no money” at face value
       Offer a ...
The Client Who…
Says, “It’s not in the budget.”
   Selling Strategies:
       Position your product as a financial benef...
The Client Who…
Says, “It’s not in the budget.”
   Closing Strategies:
       Put it in terms of money
           How w...
The Client Who…
Is Indecisive
   Pitfalls:
       Pushing when there is clear resistance
       Not reading the objecti...
The Client Who…
Is Indecisive
   Selling Strategies:
       Give a deadline to buy
       Sell the idea that a specific...
The Client Who…
Is Indecisive
   Closing Strategies:
       Prepare for a massive close
       Ask, “Do you want a blue...
Tough Calls:
Selling Strategies to Win Over
Your Most Difficult Customers

                       Part II
The Client Who…
May Cancel The Order
   Things change
   Pitfalls:
       Letting the romance get stale
       Looking...
The Client Who…
May Cancel The Order
   Selling Strategies:
       Keep the romance alive
       Do NOT stop selling
  ...
The Client Who…
May Cancel The Order
   Closing Strategies:
       Sell up: the best defense is a good offense
       G...
The Client Who…
Buys Elsewhere: Likes a Competitive Product

   Do not slam the current product
       It questions the ...
The Client Who…
Buys Elsewhere: Likes a Competitive Product

   Selling Strategies:
       Give a comparative, not compe...
The Client Who…
Buys Elsewhere: Likes a Competitive Product

   Closing Strategies:
       Give the buyer a way out
    ...
The Client Who…
Buys Elsewhere on Relationships
   Pitfalls:
       Getting competitive before you
        have proved y...
The Client Who…
Buys Elsewhere on Relationships
   Selling Strategies:
       Build your own relationship

       4 typ...
The Client Who…
Buys Elsewhere on Relationships
   Selling Strategies Cont…
           “I buy from people who are my fri...
The Client Who…
Buys Elsewhere on Relationships
   Closing Strategies:
       Ask for a level playing field
       Use ...
The Client Who…
Is Indifferent
   Key is to get into the buyer’s head
   Pitfalls:
       Trying to control the call to...
The Client Who…
Is Indifferent
   Selling Strategies:
       Prepare for a unique call
           Show up with an inter...
The Client Who…
Is Indifferent
   Closing Strategies:
       Develop a more personal relationship
       Just keep show...
The Client Who…
Is Hard To Read
   This client gives no feedback
   A call without feedback is no call at all
   Pitfal...
The Client Who…
Is Hard To Read
   Selling Strategies:
       Ask an open ended question and just stop talking
       G...
The Client Who…
Is Hard To Read
   Closing Strategies:
       Close on your client’s demographics
       Time the close...
The Client Who…
Gets Angry Over Mix-ups
   Pitfalls:
       Not trying to use it to your advantage
       Letting the p...
The Client Who…
Gets Angry Over Mix-ups
   Selling Strategies:
       Defuse the anger
           Tell the buyer, “You’...
The Client Who…
Does Not Like Your Company
   This is going to count against you
   Find out where the perception came f...
The Client Who…
Does Not Like Your Company
   Selling Strategies:
       Build a positive buzz
       Become your whole...
The Client Who…
Does Not Like Your Company
   Closing Strategies:
       Offer a “screw up” guarantee
       Close him ...
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Sales "Tough Calls" by Josh Gordon - Book Overview

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As part of my teaching a sales course at the Ohio University College of Business, I have my students understand many of Josh Gordon's "tough calls," and we integrate techniques as part of their sales calls.

Gordon does a great job of reviewing tactical approaches that can be applied in a concrete way that's great for sales students and sales professionals.

Presentation created by Shaun Holloway.

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Sales "Tough Calls" by Josh Gordon - Book Overview

  1. 1. Tough Calls: Selling Strategies to Win Over Your Most Difficult Customers Part I
  2. 2. Overview  Author Josh Gordon conducted a national survey that consisted of 3 separate mailings and received over 1,000 responses  Tough Calls focuses on behavior of clients FIRST and recommends selling approaches directed toward that behavior  Every client, even current, has the potential to become a “problem client”
  3. 3. Why Understand This?  1 of 6 clients in the USA is a problem client  Services have more problems than products  The percent of your problem clients depends on your selling style  Problem clients account for 1/3 of job related stress!  27.4% of a sales manager’s time is spent discussing problem clients with salespeople
  4. 4. Book is designed…  Most frequent to least frequent problem clients  Divided into 3 sections to help you…  Pitfalls  Selling Strategies  Closing Strategies  Some strategies purposely contradict  Designed to help you for a variety of clients  Not designed to be used all at once or sequentially
  5. 5. Survival & Opportunity- Pg 205 “If every client you had handed you an order without a fight, salespeople and client contact professionals would be unemployed.” “A sales territory without problem clients is a territory without opportunity.”
  6. 6. The Client Who… Grinds You On Price  Most frequent problem client- get a lower price  Pitfalls:  Getting so focused on price you forget to sell your product  Discussing price first  Wasting time on a customer who is not serious  Thinking the buyer is a pain in the neck
  7. 7. The Client Who… Grinds You On Price  Selling Strategies:  When asked for a concession, ask for something in return  Every price grinder has a boss  Keep it personal  Find out what your client really wants  Sell value  Differentiate your product from competitors  Never negotiate over the phone  Do NOT give in to every price demand
  8. 8. The Client Who… Grinds You On Price  Closing Strategies:  If you make a price concession, close on it!  Make a non-price concession… close on it!  Close with NO concessions  Could be the fairest way possible  More flexible negotiations will favor bigger accounts
  9. 9. The Client Who… Will Not See You  There are salespeople… you are just not one of them  You have to get in  Pitfalls:  Taking it personally  Becoming a nuisance… pest vs. persistence?  Giving up
  10. 10. The Client Who… Will Not See You  Selling Strategies:  Ask yourself, “Why would I see me?”  Send a non-sales-related item and see if it arrived  Call early in the morning or after 5pm  Worship the secretary  Make a non-sales contact to help you get in  Ask yourself questions…  Say, “I’ll be in the building, can I come see you?”
  11. 11. The Client Who… Will Not See You  Closing Strategies:  Be specific  Promise a benefit  Think about the next time
  12. 12. The Client Who… Has No Buying Authority  Watch out for “information gatherers” who channel info to the right people  Pitfalls:  Assuming the person you’re meeting has authority  Thinking the person is insignificant  Going over the person’s head
  13. 13. The Client Who… Has No Buying Authority  Selling Strategies:  Motivate the buyer to admit he/she has no authority  Become a sales trainer  Prove it on paper  Go over her head… When? How?
  14. 14. The Client Who… Has No Buying Authority  How do you get a commitment from someone who cannot make one?  Closing Strategies:  Put all the info in writing & send multiple copies  Be very sensitive to timing  “When will the decision be made?”  “Whom else will you be meeting with?”  “When will you be meeting?”
  15. 15. The Client Who… Loves What You Say Then Does Not Buy  This buyer finds it easier to give no resistance, then buys elsewhere  The call may seem TOO easy or TOO nice  Pitfalls:  Mistaking the call for a relationship sell  Assuming the sale is a “go” because there are no objections
  16. 16. The Client Who… Loves What You Say Then Does Not Buy  Selling Strategies:  Bring up the objections yourself  Consider this person may not be here for long  Nail down the level of commitment BEFORE leaving the room  Ask for the order  Ask about a timeline  Find a way to continue the dialogue
  17. 17. The Client Who… Loves What You Say Then Does Not Buy  Closing Strategies:  Be direct & ask for specifics  Treat it like a normal sale
  18. 18. The Client Who… Complains About Everything  Pitfalls:  Agreeing with the complainer about your product and company  Thinking of this as real complaining
  19. 19. The Client Who… Complains About Everything  Selling Strategies:  Set the buyer up to work for you  Ask yourself, “What kind of attention does the buyer really want?”  Smoke out real complaints from “show” complaints  Minimize the importance of the complaint
  20. 20. The Client Who… Complains About Everything  Closing Strategies:  Say, “I understand the concern you have; if it were resolved, would you buy?”  Shoot the attention to your competitors for awhile  Take all complaints head on
  21. 21. The Client Who… Says, “It’s not in the budget.”  Pitfalls:  Taking the “no money” at face value  Offer a rate concession  Trying a prestige sell
  22. 22. The Client Who… Says, “It’s not in the budget.”  Selling Strategies:  Position your product as a financial benefit  Ask for a test or trial period  Help your client find the money  Offer a guarantee involving money  Limit the chit-chat
  23. 23. The Client Who… Says, “It’s not in the budget.”  Closing Strategies:  Put it in terms of money  How we will save you money  How we will make you more money  Put the numbers in writing
  24. 24. The Client Who… Is Indecisive  Pitfalls:  Pushing when there is clear resistance  Not reading the objections emotionally  Losing patience
  25. 25. The Client Who… Is Indecisive  Selling Strategies:  Give a deadline to buy  Sell the idea that a specific sale is given  Start asking for an order 6 months in advance  See the client in person
  26. 26. The Client Who… Is Indecisive  Closing Strategies:  Prepare for a massive close  Ask, “Do you want a blue one or a green one?”  Tell the buyer no and take a stand
  27. 27. Tough Calls: Selling Strategies to Win Over Your Most Difficult Customers Part II
  28. 28. The Client Who… May Cancel The Order  Things change  Pitfalls:  Letting the romance get stale  Looking at the “intent to buy” as a “done deal”  Avoiding talk about the competition
  29. 29. The Client Who… May Cancel The Order  Selling Strategies:  Keep the romance alive  Do NOT stop selling  Monitor your competition  Check for romance decay  Say Thank You
  30. 30. The Client Who… May Cancel The Order  Closing Strategies:  Sell up: the best defense is a good offense  Get a verbal commitment for anticipated business  Find out who is the top supplier
  31. 31. The Client Who… Buys Elsewhere: Likes a Competitive Product  Do not slam the current product  It questions the judgment of the buyer  Find out why the client bought the product in the first place  Pitfalls:  Putting your client on the defensive  The client is committed emotionally to the other product  Going into a sale without being prepared
  32. 32. The Client Who… Buys Elsewhere: Likes a Competitive Product  Selling Strategies:  Give a comparative, not competitive, presentation  Differentiate your product  Get the client more excited about the product  Get invited to make a hard competitive presentation
  33. 33. The Client Who… Buys Elsewhere: Likes a Competitive Product  Closing Strategies:  Give the buyer a way out  That was then this is now  The “Whole new ball game” approach  Things are not what they used to be  Let’s keep the current supplier on his toes  Someday the client may need a backup supplier
  34. 34. The Client Who… Buys Elsewhere on Relationships  Pitfalls:  Getting competitive before you have proved yourself  Chasing every trivial objection  Giving up too early  Example: Frog Cartoon
  35. 35. The Client Who… Buys Elsewhere on Relationships  Selling Strategies:  Build your own relationship  4 types of relationship buyers and ways to start  “I buy from the organization that sends me the most credible representative”  Emphasize professionalism and product knowledge  “I buy from the people I trust”  Give some kind of preferential treatment or attention
  36. 36. The Client Who… Buys Elsewhere on Relationships  Selling Strategies Cont…  “I buy from people who are my friends”  Begin with entertaining  “I buy from the representative who helps me look good  Bring value added services, etc to the table  Envision yourself turning the account around  Could take time… like years  Relationships aside… business is business  Get involved with your client’s peers  Monitor the relationship you are up against
  37. 37. The Client Who… Buys Elsewhere on Relationships  Closing Strategies:  Ask for a level playing field  Use the “join the club” close  Entertain, ask for the order, take care of the details back at the office
  38. 38. The Client Who… Is Indifferent  Key is to get into the buyer’s head  Pitfalls:  Trying to control the call too much  Thinking the call is going badly because the client does not seem to be listening  Not customizing the call for your client
  39. 39. The Client Who… Is Indifferent  Selling Strategies:  Prepare for a unique call  Show up with an interesting, stand-out presentation  Call ahead  Ask yourself, “Has the client heard it all before?”  Start by asking questions and being responsive  Present your product in terms of the client’s business  Ask a question you know the answer to  Ask yourself, “Is this the right person to sell to?”
  40. 40. The Client Who… Is Indifferent  Closing Strategies:  Develop a more personal relationship  Just keep showing up
  41. 41. The Client Who… Is Hard To Read  This client gives no feedback  A call without feedback is no call at all  Pitfalls:  Trying to get the client involved by talking more  Assuming you have made the sale because there has been no feedback  Feeling uncomfortable
  42. 42. The Client Who… Is Hard To Read  Selling Strategies:  Ask an open ended question and just stop talking  Get the buyer to talk about anything  Start your call by asking questions  SPIN them
  43. 43. The Client Who… Is Hard To Read  Closing Strategies:  Close on your client’s demographics  Time the close with no feedback
  44. 44. The Client Who… Gets Angry Over Mix-ups  Pitfalls:  Not trying to use it to your advantage  Letting the problem linger longer than it has to  Blaming it on the other guy  Asking your boss to handle it
  45. 45. The Client Who… Gets Angry Over Mix-ups  Selling Strategies:  Defuse the anger  Tell the buyer, “You’re right.”  Ask for the details of the problem  Make a personal commitment to solve the problem  Ask what the client wants  Stay on top of the situation until it is resolved  Write a letter
  46. 46. The Client Who… Does Not Like Your Company  This is going to count against you  Find out where the perception came from  Pitfalls:  Joining your client in griping about your company  Defending your company as being perfect  Thinking your company is worse than it is
  47. 47. The Client Who… Does Not Like Your Company  Selling Strategies:  Build a positive buzz  Become your whole company  Take someone from the home office on a road trip  Find out why…  Client had a bad experience  Old salesperson was an idiot  You have been smeared by a direct competitor  Bad news from Wall Street  An old problem was not really “solved”
  48. 48. The Client Who… Does Not Like Your Company  Closing Strategies:  Offer a “screw up” guarantee  Close him on the product you are selling
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