When Bad Things Happen To GREAT Salespeople!

If you or your company makes no mistakes, you can skip this today’s blog.  OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to some ways to turn mistakes and errors into positive, profitable opportunities for you and your career in sales. Because there are times when bad things happen to great salespeople.

Let’s face it: errors are part of business. Orders are mishandled, products are damaged or shipped incorrectly and deliveries are late. The larger the business you represent the more it happens and the more one has to learn to satisfy dissatisfied customers. While I believe you should always strive for perfection, the reality is we are all going to have customers who are upset for one reason or another. How you handle those customers will go a long way to determining how successful you will be.

Everyone can keep happy customers. But, what you do with the unhappy ones is the difference between a good salesperson and a superstar.

[Tweet “How unhappy customers are handled separates good salespeople from Superstars!~Butch Bellah”]

Years ago I learned one simple phrase that will solve many customer’s problems, yet is much too seldom used. When a customer has a problem, simply use the following: “I’m sorry we’ve put you or your company in that position, what would you like me to do to solve the problem?”

Basically, seven words that can turn any situation around: “What would you like me to do?”

Here is the amazing thing about using that phrase; in most cases what the customer asks you to do is LESS than what you would’ve done in the first place. Many times, they just want you to show concern and be aware of the problem.

“What would you like me to do?” Use it and the results will surprise you.

The other thing to keep in mind is that errors in business are opportunities to show customer’s how much you care and how you respond to such challenges. This is not the time to place blame, it’s time to solve the problem and make it right for the customer.

With that being said, no matter how “easy” the fix is for you—it could be as simple as repacking an order—don’t convey to the customer that it was “no big deal”. Without boasting or throwing it up in the customer’s face, you should not be afraid to take credit for solving the problem.  Sadly today, it doesn’t take much to stand out. You want the customer to know they can depend on you—but they should also feel like that it is because you will do ANYTHING to solve their problem, not that it was “just nothing.”

As you grow your business and strive to get better—learn to embrace mistakes, learn from them and use them as opportunities to separate yourself from your competition. Keep your cool and don’t get stressed over things you have no control. You will do a much better job of solving the problems when approaching them with that attitude.


  1. Good stuff, Mr. Butch! I’ve found that if I say, “Here’s what we CAN do,” instead of, “We can’t do that,” it goes a long way toward helping the client calm down and move toward satisfaction.

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