7 years ago
February 21, 2017

How to Handle Sales Complaints

In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of handling sales complaints and win the unhappy party over.

Rhys Metler

Sales complaints are an inevitable part of any sales position. Understanding how to field complaints adroitly without losing potential sales (from the complainer or due to word of mouth) is an invaluable skill whether you’re a front line sales agent or a manager overseeing an entire division. Anyone can be put on the spot by an unhappy customer or prospect–the best results come from having a team that can deal with that fact of life cleanly and effectively. In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of handling sales complaints in a way that won’t just neutralize a complaint, but win the unhappy party over.

Never Lose Your Composure

The number one thing to learn for fielding sales complaints–or during any other interaction with a customer, for that matter. Losing your composure can refer to the obvious error of losing your temper, of course. It can be tempting to get sarcastic or short with a prospect or customer who pushes the right buttons, but it reflects poorly on yourself and the company. However, getting flustered or retreating into blind apologies and excessive promises when you try to satisfy sales complaints causes just as much trouble.

The real thing to consider here is whether you’ve lost control of yourself and the situation. Losing your temper feels like a position of strength in the moment, but moving forward from an outburst you’ve given leverage to the prospect or customer. Even when sales complaints are legitimately based, you should always aim to control the discussion as you negotiate a solution.

Knowledge is Power

The more you know about the circumstances surrounding sales complaints, the easier it will be to remain composed and neutralize the complaint effectively. For example, having a strong working knowledge of the common sales complaints and solutions that other customers have used to overcome whatever problem they’ve encountered in the past is unmatched. More than that, a strong working knowledge of the product and the way customers use it will help you innovate and offer original solutions when necessary.

Understanding what you can about the individual customer’s history with you, your company, and the product will help too. Sometimes, of course, you’ll come to a dead end, but it will happen less often than if you ‘wing it’ on a regular basis.

When you knowledge isn’t up to the task? Admit it, and promise to find a solution or direct the unsatisfied individual to someone more likely to have one. Just don’t lie or deflect, that will bite twice as hard when it comes back on you.

Take Responsibility

When dealing with sales complaints, it can be difficult to tread the line between laying down and handing control over and accepting responsibility for the sales complaints, but accepting responsibility is absolutely necessary. If you don’t, the customer or prospect will feel you aren’t taking their sales complaints seriously and will take any solutions or conciliatory motions as empty noise. Don’t be sarcastic; it isn’t worth the satisfaction!

Lost Customers are Future Prospects

Never, ever burn a bridge. When all else fails, you at least want to leave the door open for an angry customer or prospect. Studies show that ex-customers are far more likely to buy from a company than a fresh prospect, though not as likely as current customers. The circumstances of their departure WILL matter when you approach them again in the future, so always keep the long view in dealing with sales complaints.

Final Thoughts…

There’s a lot to keep in mind when dealing with sales complaints. Just remember that customer service matters in sales–even if you’re definitely losing the customer, how you lose those matters. If a customer leaves angry, they’re that much more likely to complain to their friends, coworkers, and the internet. Don’t give them a reason to be upset! If you handle things right, you can get positive word of mouth from lost customers!

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.