Have you ever done something in business or sales that you later regretted? Maybe you said something. Perhaps it was something you did or didn’t do. I’m sure you have. We all have. What you do after that regret will determine whether you move along and are productive in sales. Regret is something we all experience. Regret doesn’t have to stop your sales.
Here’s my sales regret.
I worked with a salesman at my largest and most profitable distributor. This multi-line customer also sold products from my competitor. I thought we had an agreement which was that if an account was using my products, the salesman would not change them to another competitor’s products. He got a lot of deals with my hard work. My hard work made him a lot of money. Imagine my surprise when I learned that one of his largest accounts using my company’s products was now using a competitor’s products.
First, I was shocked. My shock came because I couldn’t believe this nice, quiet salesperson, or so I thought, did nothing to prevent my lost sale. The more I thought about it the angrier I got. So I called him to ask him what happened and give him the benefit of the doubt.
When I called him and he told me that the customer wasn’t happy with one of the executive’s at my company. The customer decided to evaluate another product and then switch to it. I then realized he knew all along what was happening, from the evaluation to the ultimate switch. That made me angry. And in the tone of voice that I later regretted, I said, “And you knew all this was happening without telling me so I could get do something? I thought you were a different person than that.” He replied, “I don’t owe you anything.” Apparently this nice, quiet salesperson was not so quiet or nice.
1st Response: Maybe it’s for the better.
I lost the large account. I also had to work with this salesperson after this loss. Our relationship had changed as a result of my awareness of his lack of loyalty. Once I got over the loss, I realized maybe this experience was for the best.
He was untrustworthy. I wouldn’t work with him on accounts that I thought were too sensitive to lose to competitors. I also looked at all my other business with him at other accounts. That review helped me shore up relationships with customers.
I made direct relationships as opposed to letting him be the primary contact for the business. Since I knew I couldn’t trust him, I knew that I had to reallocate time to be the primary contact. I became less vulnerable because I got direct information from my customers, not an indirect version of events from another person.
2nd Response: Maybe it wouldn’t matter either way.
In some cases the huge mistake you made caused your failure. But maybe the huge mistake you made wouldn’t have changed the result and even mattered. Of course, you might never know. The executive at my company might not have angered my customer. The customer might have a brother-in-law selling the same product as I did and simply wanted to make the change. That close relationship would have been tough for me to overcome. Remember that sometimes your actions won’t matter either way when you start beating up on yourself repeatedly over your shortcomings.
This response is not a free pass to make bad decisions. It is important to realize that actions do have consequences. Even if sometimes your actions won’t make a difference, it’s important to make thoughtful, wise decisions.
The next time you do something you regret just remember that woulda, coulda shoulda has no place in sales.