We screwed up…
Sometimes that’s the only answer. Last night I chaired a teleconference with an association committee that I head. Our association just made a big decision and, while the details were understandable, the timing was very poor. Members were questioning why the board was either stupid or insensitive to the needs of the members.
To help answer the questions, I had the president of the association join me on the call. When I opened it up to questions, the first person laid it on the line and asked why the board had done what they had done. The president defused the situation with his first sentence. He said, “Frankly, we screwed up.” He took full responsibility for not having seen the problems and for not correcting them sooner. He promised he would talk with future presidents to make sure a similar oversight never happened again.
That did it.
I had budgeted a full hour for the discussion, but we only needed twenty minutes. The lesson for sales people is simple. When you or your company makes a mistake, the client wants two things. First, they want an apology. They want to know you are truly sorry for the inconvenience you caused them. This is a courtesy we owe each other in such situations. Second, they want to know that it will not happen again. You need to show the steps you have taken or will take to prevent a repeat of the same error.
Recoveries build rapport.
Many sales people have told me stories of how they have built better relationships with clients as a result of how they handled a bad situation. One person last week said the best thing that ever happened to him was being given a territory where the pervious sales person was a disaster. Everyone was willing to talk with him, if only to complain. His job was simply to turn the complaints around and become a hero. He said it was the easiest time he has ever had in a new territory.
What can you fix today?
What mistakes have you made that need correcting? What old clients need an apology to get the relationship started again? There may be no easier way to build your business. There is certainly no better way to improve your sleep tonight! Go get it done and send me a note with your successes. I love hearing from you.
Wishing you selling success,
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