One for the Books

By Ray Dreyfack

It’s a fact: You have no way of knowing what adverse situations you may encounter on your day-to-day rounds. But whatever obstacles you run up against, one thing is sure – in selling, what you say when the chips are down can make all the difference.

Even high-income sales pros on occasion find themselves at a loss for words. Unanticipated problems erupt, crises develop, unexpected hassles occur. Some incidents or experiences are predictable; others are not. Whatever the case, evidence proves that knowing exactly what to say when the buying decision is at hand can result in sales that might otherwise be blown, and can retain customers who might otherwise desert. Vocal floundering at the moment of decision can make your signing pen as useful as a hand crank on your car. For example, consider this sampling of ticklish situations:

A long-time purchasing agent with an important account stuns you with the news that he is leaving the company and you’ll have to start the bidding process from scratch with the new guy.

An alleged product failure or defect results in your losing the account.

A customer suddenly changes horses in midstream and decides to try the competition’s service.

What do you say? How can you prepare in advance to deal with sales busters like these? One solution is to keep a Situation Notebook that spells out actions to take and appropriate responses. It can be a powerful tool. The more situations and experiences you document from your own or others’ experiences, the less likely you are to be caught tongue-tied at a critical moment.

Many pros use this strategy and review the notebook periodically. Says one sales professional, “The recall I get is terrific.” So, the next time you have a real situation on your hands, don’t panic. Add it to your notebook and make it just another one for the books.