You’ve heard it from the time you were younger, whether you were helping your mom and dad around the house, learning how to drive, or not doing so well in a college course. Well, you’re going to hear it again: mistakes happen.

Big and small, mistakes happen in the business world because of the pace, because of technology failures, and/or because you are human. What truly determines the depth of the customer relationship is what you do after mistakes occur. You have the ability to strengthen the relationship post mistake by handling it with honesty, integrity…and by ‘adding value.’

It’s easy to be a good rep when everything is going well, but the true test of a good rep is when things aren’t going well. – Jim T, Comcast Spotlight Rep

Mistakes Happen

Business happens at a faster pace, and despite your diligence to keep every aspect straight, mistakes happen. It’s how you handle the mistake that highlights your sales professionalism and how the client relationship will either further deepen or erode. The trick is to always maintain high integrity and honesty with everyone in your life. In this way, when mistakes do happen, clients will know it was an honest mistake and trust you to solve things in the best way.

  • Sometimes you can actually create service opportunities that exceed the other person’s expectations, making things better off than before the mistake.

How you handle mistakes should be appropriate to the level of comfort the client has with you. If you have built up a consistent track record of performing and delivering on your promises, you will have built up respect that helps to prove this mistake is an anomaly. When you take responsibility for your actions and don’t point fingers, the client will respect your honesty. While the client may still be upset, they also understand mistakes happen.

  • The most important thing to remember is to be honest about your mistake; never try to cover up a mistake if it could potentially affect the customer.

The mistake will be ten times worse if the client finds it first after you tried to cover it up. Upon admitting your mistake, be ready to take full responsibility and set things right immediately. Start brainstorming solutions right away. They will see how good you really are even when things aren’t going well.

Fixing Mistakes

A client of yours has completed a new commercial that was supposed to run in a Sunday Night Football game. They were excited to invite the vendor (that paid for the commercial) to watch it live in the client’s restaurant. This was a large enough commercial cost that you decide to do your due diligence to ensure everything is reviewed. Before leaving for the weekend, you check to make sure everything was placed correctly. On Sunday night, your client calls and leaves a message… “my commercial never ran. I had all of my vendors here, and the commercial they paid for never ran.” You think, what happened?” Immediately, you became a detective and review ten different areas to uncover where the mistake could have happened.

You eventually find the commercial was encoded (or copied) with the wrong commercial (from three years prior). It was a human error that no computer could detect. You call and speak from your heart … you take responsibility and offer a pre-negotiated solution (one that you and your manager agreed to). The client continues and is satisfied with your professionalism.

Start Soon

If you have to handle a mistake, be prepared to do so in the same way every time. This creates a sense of comfort for you, especially when it can be very difficult to think in a high stress time. Start with this formula for handling a mistake:

  • Be honest and always speak from the heart.
  • Take responsibility.
  • Offer a solution.
  • Accept the consequences knowing you did whatever it took to remedy the mistake.
  • Work to not repeat the mistake again.

Start Now

Of course the best way to handle mistakes is to prevent them before they happen. That isn’t always possible, so you want to have the strongest resources available to you incase something does go wrong.

I invite you to view the all my videos in the Growing Sales series series. I show you how to save time with actionable steps, increase profitability, get qualified referrals, and more.

I encourage you to enjoy life daily.


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