Mark is an experienced salesperson working in a car showroom. It was a really hot day. Thankfully, the air conditioning was on full blast in the showroom, allowing Mark to concentrate on work and not think about the temperature outside. However, thanks to the e-mail that Mark received up a few minutes ago, he’s now sitting in a pool of his own sweat. It turned out that a large consignment of vehicles from abroad were not delivered to very important client, and everything indicated that Mark was responsible.

The saying goes that “he who makes no mistakes makes nothing.” In fact, the more clients you have and the more contracts you sign, the more likely you are to make a mistake, which may result in a complaint, loss of commissions, or even reprimand. Each of us has probably experienced a situation where they didn’t pay attention to something important, or whether by oversight or haste misled a customer. The most common and most severe punishment for such a mistake is losing the customer. Why does this happen? The vast majority of salespeople don’t like to admit their mistakes; instead, they blame the situation on a nameless person from the ‘head office’, a colleague, their supervisor, or the customer themselves.

1. A nameless person from the head office

This has the fewest consequences and can save the salesperson’s good name. Mark incorrectly calculated a discount for one of his clients, and when the client received the corrected offer, he called our main character, trying to defend him: “You know, this lady from the helpline still suggested that it was your mistake? I told her that that’s impossible, because I’ve been working with Mark for several years.. I told her she should check her systems. In the end, they reduced my price, but you see how cheeky they were? They wanted to put it all on you.” It would seem that the situation ended very successfully. The problem is, Mark lacked the courage to explain the matter and admit his mistake. He decided that it’d be better this way, but as we’ll see in a moment, he could’ve made much better use of the situation.

2. A colleague/supervisor

Blaming your mistakes on your colleagues or supervisor is unethical, and yet salespeople often do it. In this case, if the customer submits a complaint, what started as an embarrassing situation becomes a conflict at work. Such a situation rarely ends well.

3. Client

The client is always wrong - because they misunderstood, because that’s what they wanted in the first place, because they didn’t notice something, because they signed the papers, etc. Mark has used this solution several times, and now he knows it’s a double-edged sword. Not only is it as unethical as the previous solutions, it loses him the chance to sell anything more to the client. When we blame clients, we’re attacking their pride and self-esteem. Unfortunately, this is commonly done not only by salespeople, but also by customer service staff - where the fate of all complaints rests. Most often, we say that everything is in accordance with the terms and conditions, and it’s you, dear client, who should worry. In this case, the poor customer service will probably lead the client to change providers. Is it worth going to battle with clients?

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