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Oh, the Embarassment


So there I was. The prospect I was convinced would be my next buyer had just awarded my fiercest competitor the business. The prospect looked me square in the eyes. He stroked me. Said I was so close that if he had had the final say, I would have won. Promised me it wouldn’t be long before I got my chance. He loved my presentation.

Then came the bombshell: He said I helped them immensely, that without my expertise and competitive (read lowball) pricing, they wouldn’t have gotten as good a deal from my competitor. “I won’t forget that,” he said, as if to admire me for my skill and business savvy. And then, we parted with one final slap. “Stop by anytime,” he grinned, “I’ll let you get me lunch.”

Oh, the embarrassment. My drug-like need to talk features and benefits coupled with a little-puppy penchant for “sharpening my pencil” proved once again to be my undoing. What doesn’t kill a salesperson makes him better, right? But wait, this was a sales mistake, not an embarrassing moment. Sales professionals don’t react with embarrassment, they react with self-responsibility.

Embarrassing sales moments are when you spill coffee on your lap right before walking into a meeting. Or when the hotel computer garbles your PowerPoint presentation leaving you with song and dance alone. Or when you inadvertently forward a confidential in-house email to your top customer entitled: “How to Take Advantage of Your Top Customer in a Down Economy.”

There’s not a salesperson alive who hasn’t had a “say-it-ain’t-so” moment somewhere along the trail. The founder of our system, David H. Sandler, used to say, “Selling…hysterical activity on the way to the grave. ”Absolutely, amen. Selling is chock full of interesting experiences.

Embarrassing sales moments are different from sales mistakes, however. How you handle an embarrassing moment reflects your level of self-esteem. How you handle the adversity of a sales mistake reflects self-responsibility--your willingness to accept blame, learn from it, and move on.

At Sandler Training, Trustpointe, we spend 11 hours a day, five days a week with salespeople. We can hear lip service, excuse making and blame a mile away. We help salespeople (and owners) accept responsibility for their actions.

Embarrassing sales moments make humorous war stories. Sales mistakes make great lessons learned--important, necessary lessons learned. Knowing the difference will keep you strong.

For more on this and other timely sales topics, contact Tim Roberts at Sandler Training, Trustpointe, at or 317-845-0041.

Tim Roberts

Tim Roberts

Tim has led the way at Sandler® Trustpointe in Indianapolis since 1998. He is a Trusted Advisor to CEOs, Sales Managers, and best-in-class sales professionals throughout the state and around the world. Tim's one of a kind presentation of the Sandler System is a transformational experience that produces ethical, strategic, high producing, and powerfully professional sales and customer service organizations. Reach out to Tim at 317-845-0041 or