When salespeople bring frustrations over a “difficult” customer to sales management, it can put them in a catch 22. On one hand, every sales manager that moved up through the ranks of a sales organization has dealt with their fair share of angry customers and has empathy for the salesperson’s situation.
On the other hand the mind of a sales manager moves quickly from the emotions of the moment to the big picture. Anger can destroy a business relationship that took months to build and negatively affect sales objectives.
Here are some sales coaching tips to help your reps navigate the emotional minefield of an angry customer:
Ongoing Relationship Measurement
Many sales organizations ask that salespeople rate the progression of a sales relationship during the path to closing on a numeric scale. This is a useful way to see progress or regression in relationships during that crucial initial sales process.
This same tactic can also be used to measure the temperature of ongoing customer relationships. Require that each member of your sales team comes prepared to individual meetings with each member of your sales team the sales process with every customer on a numeric scale.
Not only does this give sales management a heads up that a relationship is deteriorating, it also serves as a reminder for the salesperson to continue to act in the role of trusted advisor and not abandon the customer as soon as the deal is closed.
Incentivize Customer Relationships
Sales incentives are a valuable tool to motivate reps to sell. They can also be a valuable tool to motivate sales reps to build lasting customer relationships. Here are some creative sales incentives that look beyond the incentivizing the initial sale:
- Customer retention incentives
- Increased incentives for renewals and upsells, as compared to new sales
- Compensate based on customer happiness surveys
Automated, Perpetual Practice
Much like a basketball coach running regular basketball drills, a sales manager needs to have their team in a state of perpetual practice to ensure top sales performance at all times. This desensitizes the sales team to the emotional pitfalls of angry customer interactions
“You didn’t tell me the product lacked the feature I need”
“You lied! You told me the price was X and it’s Y.”
“You told me the product would be in my warehouse by now! WHERE IS IT?”
When a customer kicks off a conversation with blame, an unprepared rep might get defensive, passive-aggressive or “check out” of the relationship. A sales rep who has run the “angry customer” drill many times will remain calm and follow the required steps to de-escalate and maintain the role of trusted advisor.
By implementing automated sales training through a platform such as the UPtick™ platform, sales managers can help reps build sales skills and selling behaviors required to develop the high level of Selling Intelligence™ score necessary to navigate a conversation where the customer is pointing a finger directly at them out of the gate.
Want to get your team in top customer management condition? Sign up for a free trial of UPtick to measure the Selling Intelligence of each member of your sales team and get them started on a path to improved customer relationships: