The goal of a sale is the sale itself. If this seems like an easy formula, almost redundant, then that is because it is an over-simplification. Focusing on the sale itself is short-sighted and irresponsible. Perhaps a better way to look at things is, rather than focusing on the goal of the sale, focus on the goal of the sales team.
Making a sale is far less profitable, and thus far less rewarding, then establishing a good relationship with a client. If salespeople who do and say whatever they feel actually get that signature and close the deal, then the sale ends there and the relationship ends with it. In sales, sincerity is everything. This is more than business ethics, it is just good business. Sincere sales practices do result in more contracts, and more profit, through repeat business with the same client, to referrals, and to overall positive brand reputation.
This is not to say that sincerity is a guarantee for a successful sale. Products may arrive damaged, or simply fail to perform as promised. Services might not meet customer expectations. Finally, miscommunications during the sales pitch, negotiating, and contract finalization could also result in bad sales.
And while the salesperson should never resort to making excuses based on bad communication, there are several other methods of good sales strategy that could control or prevent these problems.
Prevention - avoid mistakes before they can happen
- Get to know your clients. Learn about their operations. This will help customize your sales pitch and anticipate any problems they may have.
- Keep records of all your dealings with the client. Follow up phone conversations with email reiterations to have a paper trail. This will catch any miscommunication early.
- If possible, supply your clients with samples and tests for them to try out in advance.
Follow up soon after delivery of product or rendering of services. Don't wait until a client contacts you about a problem.
- Be honest if you don't think you can provide exactly what the client wants. Work together to make compromises or find new solutions.
- Do not make promises you are unsure you can keep. Make sure you keep all relevant staff, like manufacturing, in the loop. Sales is not an independent body but part of your company's team.
Control - maintain order after something goes wrong
- Assume all responsibility in analyzing the problem. If the problem is with the client, don't blame them.
- Prioritize rectifying problems before pushing new sales.
- Consider discounting or other incentives to make up for any losses caused by a bad product or service.
- Keep extensive records of all problems and solutions for future reference.
Anyone can make a single mistake. But making the same mistake over and over is no longer a mistake, it is bad sales management. Reputations outlast contracts. So next time you push that pen and paper across the table, be aware that making the deal is just one small part of great and responsible sales practice.