How to Earn Repeat, Large-Volume Book Orders by Optimizing the Post-Sale Process
Negotiating a large, non-returnable sale of your books to a corporate buyer can be a euphoric event. As you leave the premises you may celebrate with large smiles and high-fives. But unforeseen by many publishers are the various post-sale emotions experienced by the buyers, especially if this is their first time dealing with you. Their feelings may range from comfort and positive expectation to uneasiness, wariness, disappointment, or regret.
Experienced salespeople know that the sale is not over when they get the signature on the dotted line, but when the buyer reorders. There is still much to do to manage delivery of the books, making sure they are customized, printed, and shipped as requested -- on budget and on time. Publishers who get it understand that they can only generate repeat orders, recurring revenue, and referrals from satisfied customers.
As these buyers dwell on the outcome, the negative emotions they are most likely to sense are disappointment or regret. If not recognized and eliminated these can have an adverse impact on your future relationship, and your chances for future revenue are diminished.
Disappointment can be a strong emotion, perhaps even stronger than anger. Think back to a time when a colleague or spouse said, “I’m very disappointed in you” instead of “I’m very angry with you.” The former can have a more telling effect, forcing people to reconsider their positions. What causes buyers to become disappointed in or after a negotiation? It may arise if individuals feel they may have been duped.
Another source may be the speed with which the deal occurred. Buyers may wonder if you tried to put something over on them, or if they might have chosen a different tack if given more time. You can diminish the likelihood of disappointment if you proceed slowly, asking questions frequently to give them a chance to reveal their positions and voice questions or objections.
Regret is related to but a little more active than disappointment. Negotiators feeling remorse dissect the course of action that led to an unhappy outcome. They focus on the missteps -- real or perceived -- that created their disappointment. They tend to regret the actions they didn’t take, the missed opportunities that may have benefited them if they were seized.
How to Handle Disappointment & Regret
One way to reduce these negative emotions is to enter a bargaining session without a prepared script, allowing the process take its own path. If you work as a team, asking questions and brainstorming alternatives, both sides feel as if they are an integral part of the solution.
Another technique is to reassure the buyer that you will track the details of the agreement. Reduce the likelihood of problems by following the order through the process to see that it flows smoothly. Once the order is placed, make certain the correct books (high quality, customized as agreed) are shipped at the right time in the right quantity. Here are some things you can do to help lubricate the order’s progress and confirm the buyer’s positive feelings:
- Send a summary letter describing all the pieces of the puzzle to which you agreed. Everyone should concur with who is responsible for each action. Get agreement on any changes and put them in writing.
- Define metrics (measurable goals, dates, commitments). Meet periodically to track and review the progress of the order and the campaign.
- Track the order as it works its way through the production process (design changes, printing, shipping, delivery). Keep tabs on your suppliers to make sure they abide by their schedules and promises. Communicate with your buyers regularly -- people would rather have bad news than no news at all. Inform them quickly of any delays or snags.
The process for making a sale and keeping the customer satisfied can seem laborious and time consuming. But if you want to make additional large-quantity, profitable, non-returnable sales with recurring revenue from your customers, then you have to manage the post-sale emotions. The results can have an enormous impact on your long-term revenue.
Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company, which sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission-only basis and conducts on-site training for publishers' sales forces.
Brian is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns)," a do-it-yourself guide to selling books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He has written many articles about book publishing and marketing, is the author of the eight e-booklets with "Proven Tips for Publishing Success," and creator of the series of "Book Marketing Wizards." He is also the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, "Book Marketing Matters."
Brian is the host of the television series "The Book Authority" and has aired over 650 shows. In addition, he is the author, narrator and producer of the media-training video program "You're On The Air."