Creating a business relationship with a customer isn’t always easy, and some clients have a tendency to attract more trouble than others. This may not be the customer’s fault. Most disagreements and conflicts in sales are the product of misunderstandings and breakdowns in communications. When you feel like a client is being deliberately difficult, stop and reassess the situation. These are common customer sayings that signify insufficient communication. As a professional, it’s your job to find the source of the issue and resolve it as quickly as possible.
“There’s No Need For Paperwork.”
Sometimes, customers try to get away with an informal agreement. They say there’s no need for contracts between friends or trusted colleagues, and that the two of you can manage as you go along. Don’t make the mistake of believing them. All formal sales should be sealed in concrete terms, with crystal clear expectations and numbers for both sides.
Putting everything in writing provides a definitive reference point for both parties in the eventuality of a disagreement. Explain to your customer that a contract is just as helpful for them as it is for you. If the individual continues to refuse, it may be an indication of greater problems down the road.
“That’s Not What I Agreed To.”
This is when having your sales contract is useful. Rather than sit and argue over who said what during the sales negotiations with a customer, it’s possible to look over a signed document that lays out the details of the arrangement in solid facts.
Getting into these sorts of disputes can be damaging, as no one likes to be proven wrong. Prevent this if at all possible by coming to a verbal agreement before signing the contract. On the other hand, if you use that contract to hold a customer to specific obligations, don’t be surprised if they do the same.
“I Never Got That Invoice.”
When a customer is refusing to pay, either politely or directly, once again it’s time to go back to the sales contract. Be respectful, but be firm. You should have documented your progress on a project, have copies of the relevant files and have a written agreement in your possession. If a customer tries to dodge you and is local, stop by in person. Sometimes people need to be reminded that you’re a person as well. If not, you can choose to persist, give up, or seek legal action to earn your compensation. Most customers who skip out on the bill show signs of flakiness beforehand. Pay attention during sales negotiations to get a better idea of your client’s character.
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Nothing At All
Of course, there’s nothing worse than customers who refuse to communicate entirely during or after sales negotiations. Whether they are impossible to get hold of in a timely manner, or unable to express their needs and make the necessary commitment to move forward with a project, it’s frustrating. Sales negotiations set the expectation and tone for the rest of your working relationship, so be sure communication is there and start off on the right foot.
The truth is that sales negotiations are much more than just a meeting to sign a contract and haggle over prices. They are a time to get acquainted, set boundaries and gather the information each of you need to protect yourself. With luck and good communication, the majority of your customers will never present these setbacks and your business together will be able to progress smoothly.
Prior to taking the position of sales executive, author Lisa Franklin completed customer sales negotiation training which allows her to share many useful articles on the topic of negotiation for others working in the sales industry.
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