Your complete guide to delivering bad news without losing the positive connection with your buyers. (Do this right and it even has the power to deepen and strengthen your business relationships.)
Still connected (how to deliver bad news)
In today's post, you're going to discover how to use a simple formula to deliver bad news - like a delay of a shipment - in a smart way.
Here's a question:
"Do you ONLY provide good news to your clients?"
Crazy, of cause, we all need to face the challenge to convey negative news to our clients now and then.
Sometimes even devastating information.
This is real life after all.
Le's take some super long deep breath.
I'm here to make this process as pain-free and hopefully as insightful as possible. I promise you no matter how intimidating you think it is - you absolutely can do this. And I really do mean this. You ARE in a position to master that. While being of the highest of service to your buyers.
In fact, do this right and you even have the power to lift your relationship.
So, no matter what your experience with angry buyers is or has been I want you to know that you're in a perfect position to do it.
It's a skill to cultivate.
I'm going to teach you a simple and intuitive method that leverages your existing abilities as a garment exporter, merchandiser, sales guy, or buying house owner.
Because it happens. The truth is there are not always favorable and positive matters to deliver to your clients.
Despite nobody wanting it. Unexpected things can happen in several ways. Especially in our industry... Delays of shipments, quality issues, you name it...
Or you might not agree with your customer's expectation. Or a certain request. And you have to communicate that somehow. Do you agree? Now and then we have to deliver bad news.
For sure, nobody likes to receive uncomfortable information. And nobody likes to deliver negative messages just as much. Nobody likes it. It has never been easy.
So what I mean with bad news is it's pretty much all those buyers don't like to hear.
„You will not get the advertising articles on time.“
„The inspection is not passed.“
„The prices will increase.“
and so on...
That‘s unpleasant and nobody likes to hear this. Of cause, this formula we are talking about is not making the negative news vanish. This no formula can and of cause. The negative news remains.
However, it helps and makes it easier than your customer can take and accept them. For that reason, I recently tried out the Still-Connected-Formula - with great success. It works - even when you need to deliver worst-case information.
Since you want to keep your customers' relationships healthy and stable.
Sandwich feedback is stupid
You know what the "sandwich feedback" is. You've probably heard about it.
It goes like this: First of all, we tell a person something positive. Or a compliment. Something nice. We go on and, in the middle, we put the bad thing. That's the thing we actually want to talk about. Finally, in the end, all will be wrapped up again with a positive statement.
So, the bad news is wrapped in two positive messages. Like the cheese is wrapped in bread from the upper and lower sides. A sandwich.
This model is supposed to soften the difficult matter. Protect someone's feelings. Or the situation as a whole.
Does it work out?
I experienced it does not.
Often the two positive messages are said and meant without real context to the actual situation.
Like: „Thanks for what you did yesterday, I really appreciate this, BUT ....“
And here‘s the thing: After hearing the BUT we tend not even to hear the first message.
Or sometimes even understand it in contrary. That‘s actually one of the consequences of this kind of communication.
We get into an alarming stage when we hear boot-licking words. We see it coming. It's so obvious. We literally expect a bad message in the middle - we almost hear the big „BUT“- lurking to get us. We think: „O.k. when is the bad point coming?“
That‘s why sandwich feedback doesn't bring the desired effect.
The Simple Still-Connected-Formula
What works better? You want to make a big positive impact even when the situation is tough. Plus, you want your customers relationships to keep growing for many years to come.
The simple Still-Connected-Formula is based on two psychological recall principles for human beings.
People remember what they hear at first.
And what they hear at last.
The middle is generally not remembered so clearly.
I believe what's most important is with what you leave your customer at the end.
What direction is thereafter receiving the bad news for your client?
How to put the Still-Connected-Formula in action
Show some good intent
If you meet in person select a quiet place or if you speak on the phone, do some friendly talk upfront. Show them that you’re an ally.
That you’re on their side and that you want their success. Signal that your intention is good.
Tell the bad news as it is. Plain. Frank. Direct.
“We will not be able to deliver your catalog article on time.“
„The price for this repeat article will increase this season.“
„We don‘t agree to point 4 of the contract.”
Appreciate and value the reason why it's so important for your buyer
Signal your understanding that you thought about it- that you really considered this situation. With this, you appreciate your customer as well as a person.
Your buyer is valuable to you. And this is your proof. Emphasize again that you recognize your client’s wish, expectation, and need. That you understand.
Now place BUT consciously.
Offer three alternatives and possible solutions
These three potential solutions can be implemented right away. Show your concern and understanding again.
Try to find three positive matters. So bad news first – then the BUT:
“But we thought about your wish. And we like you to know that we thought about an alternative how it will be possible. At least part of it.”
„But we know about the importance for you and like to offer you A, B or C…“
You might wonder that it sounds like a really long chain sentence? No worries, because psychological this is happening:
Bad news first.
Then the word BUT.
You already know that all that is in front of BUT is weakened.
When you add three positive changes of direction you offer the possibility to your buyer to balance it against the negative information.
Which loses a bit of its horror.
The most important psychological effect tough is, that you point on a positive track.
And here's the thing... as a result you don‘t leave your client hanging with bad news in the rain. You initiate in the brain of your partner already a positive direction of thinking.
Hence, you're not focusing on the bad message but on workable solutions. Because you thought already about potentially acceptable alternatives. The key is you remain activity-oriented with their best interest at heart.
Here's what is happening in many cases emotionally
Furthermore, I tried it out and it worked really well. Do it a few times, get a feeling for the strategy and you'll use it again and again. Promise.
There's nothing crazy special about this Still-Connected-Formula. It's just being intentional about how you deliver bad news.
A key part of this Still-Connected-Formula is that it's showing real empathy and is looking ahead. I specifically love the actionable part of it.
Therefore, acknowledging what happened without bells and whistles but not looking back too much. Like: "That's the situation and that is our suggestions on how we possibly can deal with it."
The Still-Connected-Formula in a powerful cheatsheet
You know me. I created an ultra-practical FREE RESOURCE that you will find incredibly useful. I’ve got it all laid out in a powerful way that you can take and make your own. With word-for-word examples.
All you have to do is follow the system and you’ll be good to go!
- The single biggest thing you can add to your communication that your buyers will still see your good intent, integrity and maintain the business relationship with you. (Do this right and it even has the power to deepen and strengthen your business relationship.)
- A smart way to answer your buyer's objections before they've even had time to verbalize them.
- Why everybody in garment export should have a powerful formula handy, especially if you want your customers‘ relationships to keep growing for many years to come.
Like to try this? I‘d love to hear from you about your experiences...
Keep going and do something awesome today that will help you reach your goals with your business, and in life.
Thank you for reading this article. It wasn't short and you made it to the end.
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Hope you are well. Thanks again for nice article and really this suggestion will be very helpful for our business because continuously we are facing this problem.
Your direction is very nice because you are a good director.