Good salespeople understand that sometimes they have to be the bad guy. If you’re a sales professional who takes yourself, and your client’s business seriously, you must occasionally deliver bad news. News the client doesn’t want to hear. Your ability to do this is what sets you apart from your more fearful competitors. It isn’t easy or enjoyable to disappoint a prospect or client, but it is sometimes necessary. You make your job easier by understanding and preparing for the reaction your client will have.
They Do Not Want to Hear It
A client of mine delivers data to businesses, and sometimes the data tells a story their clients don’t expect or want to hear. Recently I participated in a conversation where exactly this happened. The client was unhappy with the data they got back. It wasn’t my client’s work they didn’t like – quite simply, they wanted the data to tell them something else. Something different. They wanted the data to reinforce what they believed they were going to find when we went looking.
The contact person I’m working with tried to find the data-answers they wanted… and couldn’t…because it doesn’t exist. I told my contact”you can’t make them happy. It’s your job to give them the truth even if they don’t want it.”
This interaction reminded me of many conversations our country is undergoing around race in the wake of the recent, heartbreaking murders. Some well-intentioned, good-hearted people react to facts about racism with anger because they don’t want it to be true. They don’t want to believe the data that is before them, because frankly, it’s too horrible and too overwhelming.
Understand Why They Don’t Want to Know
The anger of both the business and the individual is rooted in what the data means to their life. Most people want to do the right thing, and when you present data that tells them something needs to be done – something huge, overwhelming, time consumer, emotionally draining – they are reluctant to believe it because they will have to do a lot of work they aren’t prepared to do.
How You React Means A Lot
Your reaction in the face of this anger can destroy the trust you have built with the angry person, or, it can help you build even greater trust. If you react quickly and harshly, they will probably pull back and disconnect. However, if you are patient and slow down, giving them time to digest the information they didn’t want to receive, you can deepen your level of trust. If you have suggestions or can guide them with a vision of a future where this information actually helps them resolve problems or change their behavior, you transform from a bearer of bad news to a trusted adviser and friend.
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