sales tip

Are You Just Putting Out Fires?

The Situation

When Brendon, a sales rep for Braxton Industries, got a call from his customer Kelly, he was concerned. Kelly called to complain about upcharges that appeared on the latest invoice from Braxton for products she routinely ordered.

Brendon thought he had handled the problem skillfully. He explained the one-time charge to her, but decided to cancel it anyway, as a favor for her customer loyalty. Kelly seemed satisfied by his response. He was, too.

Actions Speak Louder …?

However, Brendon later learned that Kelly had given a sizeable order to one of his competitors. Also, she was too busy to see him when he called for an appointment last week. Was Kelly still annoyed by the billing problem? She shouldn’t be. He removed the charge from her bill — what more could he have done?

From what you know about Q4 relationship selling, what might Brandon be overlooking about this incident?

How Deep Is Your Rapport?

From Brendon’s point of view, cancelling Kelly’s upcharge was the right response. However, perhaps his concession was offered too hastily, creating suspicion about his company’s pricing policies.


The problem is that Brendon doesn’t really know how Kelly feels. He may be relying too heavily on a price advantage for keeping this customer. Now that this benefit may be in doubt down the road, what else binds the two of them in their business relationship?


Do They Count on You?

Brendon should have been working more on building trust with this client all along. That’s what Q4 relationship selling is all about — making customers feel confident that you are the solution to their needs regarding the products and services you offer.


How is this achieved? By keeping current with the client. Probing to find out specifics about what Kelly needs from him as a vendor. Does she have any hidden objections concerning pricing — or anything else that could impact the status quo?


It takes more than just checking in with customers once a month, or merely responding when a problem occurs. It certainly would have made sense for Brendon to discuss an impending surcharge ahead of time.


Worth the Time?

You may be thinking: Who has the time for this? Short, timely discussions that probe customer needs and concerns can have a meaningful impact for building trust. Besides, it takes less time and energy to keep a good customer than to sign on a new one.


Q4 selling builds solid relationships by collaborating with customers. It advocates using every contact to demonstrate that you are acting in the customer’s best interests.