We all make mistakes, right? But if you really want to excel as a salesperson, you’re going to have to learn how to solve your own problems.
Recently, one of my insurance industry coaching clients mistakenly submitted an application with some outdated information on it. After he shared the price quote with the prospect, he realized the out-of-date info made the quote much lower than it should have been. He was so dependent on his manager to resolve his mistakes that he almost lost the deal because he didn’t have the right tools to solve his own problems.
4 Steps to Becoming a Master Problem Solver
We’ve already talked about how treating things as Business as Usual can help you avoid making a mountain out of a molehill. But following these specific steps will empower you to take control and salvage a potentially dead lead.
Step 1: Address the issue immediately
As a whole, people procrastinate too much! Often, it’s because we’re conflict-avoidant and we simply don’t want to have difficult conversations. But if we could just learn how to have these conversations immediately when an issue occurs, we’d all be so much better off. Moving quickly makes a huge difference in determining how (or if) the situation escalates.
Author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss says, “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” Now, I know these conversations are really challenging. But if you meet them head-on, not only can you learn and grow from them, but they can catapult you to another level of success simply by virtue of your willingness to engage in them.
Step 2: Anticipate the next 3 questions
Once you’ve taken the initial step to initiate that tough conversation, you need to press on and get ahead of the curve. Every time you’re dealing with an upset customer (or manager… or vendor) they’re going to have three questions:
- What happened?
- How are you going to fix it?
- What can we do to prevent it from happening again?
The minute you find out that a problem has arisen, focus on answering those three questions for yourself before you even call the person (or people) affected. If you call them already prepared with answers to all three, they’re going to immediately feel like you’ve got a handle on things.
Step 3: Talk to the parties involved
Whether the issue involves a customer, team member, vendor, or referral partner, get them involved immediately. As soon as you have a grip on what transpired, get on the phone right away. Don’t give them a chance to think that you might be avoiding them.
If they don’t know about the issue yet, they certainly shouldn’t be hearing about it from anyone but you! Don’t rely on someone else to have this conversation for you. In the end, taking a proactive approach like this may prevent them from even becoming upset about the problem.
Step 4: Review the situation
All of the previous steps are about addressing a problem once it has happened. And while problem solving is a great skill to know, preventing those problems from ever happening in the first place is really what you want to come from this exercise. The less you have to do this whole thing, the better, right?
So, after you’ve resolved the situation, take a step back and review everything. Say to yourself, “Seriously, how did this happen? And have we fixed all of the loopholes to make sure this isn’t something we’re going to have to deal with ever again?” After the fact, evaluate the situation and figure out what happened, understand how you handled it, and confirm that everything is put right, all parties are satisfied, and that hopefully, nothing like that will happen in the future.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Sometimes bad things happen in business. That’s a fact. Instead of putting off addressing it because you dread dealing with the problem, focus on how you can be proactive in handling the situation so that it doesn’t happen again and you don’t lose the business.
Be the master of your own destiny. That’s what this all comes down to. So many things are at play in situations like this that oftentimes we don’t realize that we have the control. So get out there and do it! Tackle problems head-on. Come prepared with answers and solutions. Communicate effectively. And learn from your mistakes.
Until next time—go sell some stuff!