Excuse is not the standard answer for delivery delays

2023-07-21|58 views|Development skills

Delivery delays are a headache for all foreign trade salespeople, but they are sometimes unavoidable. This is when business capabilities come into play, and experienced foreign trade professionals know how to handle such situations. Let's take a look at the following case study

A salesman named Mr Wang has an American client who placed an order in early June, with a delivery request of approximately 30 days. However, the majority of the products in this order were new, and it was the first time for bulk production, leading to various production issues.
Firstly, there was a delay in the raw materials, which were supposed to arrive within five days but got delayed until around the 20th day. Consequently, Mr Wang had to negotiate with the client to wait for the next batch of shipments.
At that time, all departments in the factory confirmed that the delivery deadline was achievable. However, when Mr Wang followed up again, they replied, "Sorry, we need to extend the delivery date again."
The previous delay had already left the client very dissatisfied, and now another week's delay needs to be communicated. So, how should Mr Wang handle this communication with the client?
From the above case, it is evident that Mr Wang's approach is highly unprofessional. Why is that?
Firstly, delays are common in foreign trade business, whether it's a week or four weeks, it's acceptable, but there must be a reasonable schedule. This schedule is not just for internal use but should also be shared with the client. Once a delay occurs, this schedule can keep the client informed about the production progress promptly and alleviate some of their concerns.
In the schedule, every step of the process should be clearly listed, including the procurement time of raw materials, the start and completion time of production, and a series of processes like assembly and packaging. The more detailed, the better.

If you have such a schedule in place, even if problems arise during production, you can explain to the client, "Due to an issue in the XXX stage, we need to repeat this step to ensure accuracy before proceeding further. As a result, our delivery date will be postponed by XXX time. We apologize for any inconvenience caused and appreciate your understanding."
By handling it this way, even if the client remains disgruntled, they will be impressed by your professionalism.
No matter how good the excuses are, they are still excuses. In a situation where you don't know when you can deliver the goods, providing excuses repeatedly will only distance you from the client and eventually lead to losing the business relationship.
In the case of delivery delays, besides the aforementioned schedule, effective communication with the client is also crucial.
For instance, when raw materials haven't been procured yet, you can say, "We have already submitted the approval, and the procurement department has started the procurement of raw materials simultaneously. I will double-check the specific progress and get back to you with a detailed update."
When the order hasn't been produced, you can say, "Currently, the raw materials are in place, and we are conducting a review to ensure there are no issues with them. Because we have extremely high standards for quality, we absolutely cannot use any defective materials for our customers' production. This would be irresponsible towards our customers. Therefore, we kindly ask for your understanding as we need a few days to ensure comprehensive quality control of the raw materials before proceeding with the production. Rest assured, I will make sure to keep you informed about the progress of the entire order."
Through such communication, you demonstrate professionalism. Even if this particular collaboration doesn't work out, the client will acknowledge your professionalism, which can prevent losing hard-earned clients.
Finally, when facing delivery delays, we must take responsibility, actively communicate, display professionalism, provide appropriate and reasonable explanations, propose remedial measures, show sincerity, and pay close attention to quality control. Only by doing so can we handle delays effectively, maintain client relationships, and avoid unnecessary losses.

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