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It’s much harder to win back a customer’s trust than it is to maintain that trust. I’d advise that you avoid this situation if at all possible, but it’s going to happen at some point or another no matter how careful you are. Here is how to regain a customer’s trust.

1. Acknowledge what went wrong

Whatever you do, don’t try to sweep the incident under the rug. Acknowledge that something did go wrong, and take accountability for what happened. Even if the mistake was not necessarily your fault, as the salesperson you are the face of the product for your customer. Trying to explain your way out of any fault, or to push the blame off to someone else is just going to make yourself look worse. And, never, ever blame the customer for what went wrong (even if you think it is 100% their fault). They may have gone against your recommendations and chose a product that was the wrong fit, but in the end you still went ahead and sold them that product.

2. Listen to their grievances

Everyone knows that listening is the key to building (or rebuilding) relationships. Yet, many salespeople have a hard time letting anyone else do the talking. Especially after something went wrong, you need to let the customer speak and tell you what their issues are. And, if that requires being yelled at a little bit, so be it. For a salesperson, this can be a great opportunity for growth and building resilience. For your customer, yelling at you can be cathartic. Really try to put yourself in their shoes, and to see their side of the issue. Empathy will go a long way.

3. Ask questions

Before telling your customer what you want to do, ask them what they want. Find out what damage the issue has caused, and what could make it better for your customer. Ask targeted and relevant questions, and make sure not to waste their time while you are trying to get to the bottom of things. Your customer likely has his or her own idea about how you can right your wrong, and try to honor that if at all possible. But, if their proposed situation is not feasible, try to find a potential compromise.

4. Develop a solution

Take what you have heard from your customer, and your own knowledge of their needs and your product to develop a solution to the issue moving forward. If you sold them a bad product or if deadlines have changed since the deal was made, try to rebuild trust by fixing any wrongs and holding up your end of the bargain. Maybe add an additional perk or upgrade as a part of your apology. Make sure that you give the customer a reasonable time-frame for remedying the situation, and under no circumstances miss this deadline. You may need to recruit additional team members, or stay a couple hours late in the office making calls to fix the situation, but it’s necessary.

5. If the relationship has to end, let it

If all of the products your company sells just aren’t the right fit, don’t try to fit a round peg in a square hole. Instead, graciously let the relationship end, and try to make sure that this happens on the best possible terms. You don’t want to burn any bridges, or to have them leaving scathing reviews on hundreds of different sites. Try sending them a handwritten card thanking them for their business, and apologizing that it didn’t work out. Also, consider getting them a refund. Most people are reasonable and will appreciate the effort. Hopefully, your product has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, like Spiro’s proactive relationship management platform does.

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About the Author Adam Honig

Adam is the co-founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a natural sales leader with a mission to help salespeople make more money using artificial intelligence — or any sort of intelligence for that matter. Adam has been a founder of four companies which resulted in two triumphant IPOs and two legendary mergers. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the ‘No Jerks’ hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.

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