“Open mouth, insert foot.” It’s a saying used to describe what we feel happens when we say something that we should not have said because it could potentially be interpreted as inappropriate, hurtful, embarrassing for either party, or just awkward. In sales, you can occasionally say something and immediately want to take it back.
There are a few reasons this typically happens:
* We’re so excited and nervous to be talking to the customer that we get on a roll and can’t seem to stop ourselves
* We get defensive when we hear an objection – about our company, office, or service, and we rush to give an explanation
* We become uncomfortable or impatient with the silence after we ask a question, and we start speaking without waiting for an answer
* We say something we know didn’t sound right, but instead of stopping to regroup, we stumble on to the next potentially bad comment
The problem with this is that we can never fully take back those words. More importantly, we can’t predict a customer’s reaction to them.
What can you do when you’ve said something you wish you hadn’t?
- Offer a sincere apology. Give a genuine “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” followed by specifics of what you said or did.
- Use humor. With the right person and context, self-deprecating humor is helpful and almost always works.
Admitting that you did or said something wrong can be powerful in building a new customer relationship. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Your customer knows that. Sometimes demonstrating the ability to admit your mistakes, and trying to remedy them, makes a customer want to work with you even more. It lets them know that you’ll be honest with them going forward.
We all make mistakes. Very few are fatal. Apologize when you make them. Learn from them and make it your goal to make fewer mistakes and more sales.