When Your Product Gets Recalled, How You Can Strengthen Trust With Your Clients

By Michael Hinkle

So you just found out there will be a recall on a product that you have been selling to your clients.

Yes, your first thought might be, “My world, as I know it, is falling apart. This is really bad.”

If that is where your thought process is going to start, let’s discuss why you would be missing one of the best sales calls you could ever make. I know, I can see your eyes rolling into the back of your head thinking, What is he talking about?

Here’s the secret sauce. You work for a company that is staffed by fellow human beings. Your fellow human beings you work for and with are not perfect; in fact, they make mistakes. Based on that, mistakes will occur. So is a recall a deal killer? No.

But can it lead to a loss of sales? Yes it will, if you determine that you are going to avoid the conflict of resolving the problem for your clients.

Take responsibility, prove you’re a problem solver

This is what we are going to focus on: How do I deal with the potential disruption of business with my client? There is a basic formula for recovering from this kind of event, and that is to take responsibility for resolving the issue as quickly and as transparently as possible. Own the issue, be honest and empathetic, and fight for solutions from your company that make your client whole again.

Remember, this is your problem and not a client problem, so do not make them feel that they have any role in problem resolution. Do not make it a situation where they need to call you to recover from this situation. Help them understand that the resolution is firmly the responsibility of you and the company you work for.

I am going to go out on a limb here, but I believe that you should consider this event as one where you can really prove to your client that problem solving is why they needed to use your company in the first place. Everyone is happy when everything is going well. There are no complaints and your organization appears to be one of the best choices they ever made. Focus on the good times as gravy and wait for the moment when you can demonstrate to your client how much you value the relationship – by taking full responsibility for the resolution to this issue.

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How management can help the salesperson in a recall

Now that we have a good mindset in how we will approach the recall, let’s focus on what management can do for you in making this a great sales call. The first thing that I look for from management in a situation like this is, will they take responsibility for the problem?  Are they willing to accept the fact that this is a financial loss for the client that will need to be mitigated before life will return to normal? This will be the minimum your client will expect from you. Remember it is a “you” problem, not a “them” problem.

The next thing management needs to provide to a great salesperson is clear, precise feedback and intel on what the resolutions are and how you will repair the damage done by this recall. The client is looking for honest answers and timelines as to when they will no longer be affected by this issue, and you need to have answers for them.

Your proactive communication with clients is critical

In situations like these, you need to be the one who makes regular calls to the client.  Do not permit the client to have their own interpretations as to what your company is doing to address the problem. If you do that, the conclusions that your clients come up with will not be to your benefit.

It is a given fact in the world of sales that no communication to the client means nothing is being done, or else you would have called them with the good news. If you can focus your career in this one area, good news is always delivered to the client as quickly as possible, which means that bad news needs to be delivered to the client even faster.

Over the years my clients have come to expect this of me, and in fact I expect it of myself. This is the time that I am able to make tremendous impressions with my clients about how much I really value their loyalty to me and the products I provide them.

I can promise you that if you approach every opportunity, with any given account, as a positive, you will always have plenty of clients to work with. Remember, you are a problem solver, and that is why we get paid.


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