3 Important Actions To Take When You Really Mess Up

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Let’s face it, you are human and you will make mistakes. Also, your company and other people you work with have flaws and are prone to err once in a while as well. So whatOops sign do you do when you or your company screws up, costing the customer time, money, headaches or worse?

#1. Acknowledge and Inform as Soon as Possible
The very instant you know that something is amiss; you have to inform the client. Do not wait in the hopes that something will correct the situation or that it may magically go away. Let the customer know immediately!

Even when it appears evident that something will go wrong, before it actually happens; inform the customer. To tell the client that there may possibly be a problem, and then have that problem never arise, could be a good thing. You can use such a situation to demonstrate that you are capable of averting problems. You are there, providing constant service.

However, to have the client feeling that everything is going smooth, only to have a surprise problem come up, could derail the sales process.

#2. Provide FULL Disclosure
The worst thing you can possibly do at such a crucial time is to, hide information, lie or be misleading. Do not try to “cover up” the issue. Provide the customer with full disclosure as to what happened. Be honest and direct.

#3. Take FULL Responsibility
Do not try to blame someone or something else. Take full responsibility for the incident, and apologize for everyone involved. Even claim those mishaps that you had no control over and you were not responsible to handle. Never take the, “That’s not MY department…” angle.

Sales Person:
“Susan, I am sorry things did not go as planned. But please understand, it was the shipping company that messed everything up. They have nothing to do with us, and we can’t control how they operate…”


Let the client know that YOU are the account manager and that ANYTHING that happens, YOU are the one-stop, one-call to solve all of the problems. Handled correctly, you can turn a nightmare problem into the catalyst that secures a client’s business and loyalty forever.

Take responsibility for those things the customer knows that you cannot control, and watch what happens!

“Hey, you don’t have to apologize. It’s not your fault. Our event was rained out, but come on, you can’t control the weather!”

Sales Person:
“I appreciate that Steve. But it IS my fault. I set up the dates. I knew well in advance. I should have studied the predictions more closely, and I should have had an alternative rain-date or a Plan B in place for you just in case the weather turned. It IS my fault, and I promise you that I will be more diligent in the future.”

Own up!

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Digital Art at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 20 February, 2012

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