The old saying “when it rains, it pours” seems to apply to order cancellations, and it seems like when cancellations occur, they occur in bunches. Here’s what many sellers do when they experience a bunch of order cancellations:
1. Have a negative reaction and argue with the client.
2. Panic and go after any account they can sell.
3. Look for ways to close a quick deal to make up for lost revenue—including dropping the price to close a deal.
4. Sell new prospects whatever they can sell without worrying about delivering results.
All items on this list ultimately lead to short term sales AND more cancellations in the future.
How to Handle Sales Cancellations
1. Try to “save” the business.
2. Avoid being argumentative.
3. Be empathic, but not a pushover.
4. Seek to understand the problem behind the cancellation.
5. Taking a cancellation from a technical buyer (media buyer) is often a dead-end street because they don’t really understand the problem causing the cancellation. Conduct a conversation with the client-side, decision maker to better understand the problem.
6. During your conversation with the decision maker, try to uncover new desired business results that might lead to a counterproposal.
Replacing Lost Business
If you cannot save the business, here’s a better way to make up the lost revenue:
1. Select some new quality prospects. Think about dollar potential, access, and fit.
Something to consider related to dollar potential—many prospects have money to spend but are unwilling to spend it during the uncertain business climate. Be sure to take this into consideration when evaluating prospects (have money + willing to spend).
2. Develop a valid business reason based on business insights to set a face-to-face meeting or a virtual meeting with each new prospect.
3. Use an aggressive, yet professional, approach to set the first meeting—follow the Don’t Give Up approach (7-9 points of contact over a three week period). Use video sources like Vidyard during your attempts to set appointments.
4. Nail down an assignment during all face-to-face or virtual meetings with new business prospects.
5. Don’t skip steps in the sales process by looking for a quick fix.
It's sad to say there is no quick fix to deal with cancellations.
If you cannot save the business after a conversation with the decision maker, the best approach is to aggressively develop new customers that allow the seller to control the sales process, sell solutions that solve business problems and deliver results. These elements make the seller less vulnerable to future cancellations.
For more information on a sales process tied to these steps, check out The Sales Accelerator.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in 2012 and has since been updated.