Just about everyone is familiar with this simple fire safety technique. Most of us learned it in elementary school, but they never told us back then it might help us win or keep a customer one day. Fires create panic in us and so can conflicts that arise with customers or prospects. If you’re working with potential or current customers conflict will arise, and how you respond will either help you win or lose future sales.
We’ve all been confronted with customer conflict situations. It’s common, frustrating and unproductive, especially with a customer. The sales training industry fittingly dedicates specific courses to address these situations.
For those instances where customer difference does arise, here is a straightforward three-step approach to those situations you can add to your win-win strategies. Stop, Drop and Roll.
When those inevitable moments occur around a product misunderstanding, poor planning or execution around a meeting, a fundamental personality difference or even a more specific item like a price increase, a sales or marketing program or a simple mistake that occurred—and you feel a customer conflict coming on—Stop. Stop and take a deep breath. Stop and don’t let emotion take over and sidetrack you. Stop and realize the world keeps on turning. At that moment…stop, and put things into perspective.
Now that your emotions are in check—Drop. Drop your own subjective opinions, preconceptions or that folded-arm attitude of “I’m right”. Drop it. You might need to “eat crow”, as the saying goes. Is that tough to do? Absolutely. But, drop it. Most of our customer battles are very small molehills that all of us, too often, make into mountains. Now, that doesn’t mean that we ignore issues that need to be resolved. It does mean we need to drop our own selfish biases or heightened reaction that there is an enemy on the other side of this conflict. Drop the “my way or the highway” attitude. Drop it and move toward resolution. Focus on the issue. The issue is the enemy; not people or a person.
By now you should be in a better place or at least a neutral place after your effort to “Stop and Drop”. That customer “issue” is still there, but you’ve stopped yourself within your own emotional frenzy or turmoil and you’ve dropped the attitude and biases to a level that you can now Roll. No, not roll over and submit. Roll into a mode of open-mindedness. Roll into a mode of willingness to ask questions and listen. Roll into a mode of brainstorming, if needed. Roll into a mode of understanding. Roll toward a mutual agreement to make things work.
The end goal is a positive resolve which results in benefits for you and the customer. You won’t always agree with a customer, but you want to build a relationship, enhance a workable commitment and gain new insights. All of this leads to and develops stronger relationships and new ways to handle situations. The next time a conflict shows up…Stop, Drop and Roll and experience the joy of selling.
Here are a few training resources we recommend.