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My Biggest Success Came From My Biggest Mistake.

14 Jan

One of my biggest mistakes as a sales rep led to one of my very biggest sales.  And it taught me a lot about working with others, both professionally and personally.

As a textbook sales rep, I worked a situation at Northwest Vista College for nearly a year.  At first, my potential customers were wary.  They openly voiced their distrust of sales reps, having been burned multiple times by the company they currently were working with.  But over the course of a year, I developed a relationship with each committee member, winning their trust.  Eventually, they invited me to present to their faculty.

At the presentation, they loved our content.  Our commitment to service.  And the incredibly low price I quoted them, a price point they couldn’t resist.

A price point that was HORRIBLY wrong.  A price that I had carelessly misquoted.  A price they now expected after the presentation, but that my company could never honor.

When I realized my mistake, I called my contact on the committee.  I thought their excitement for working with me and my chances of making the sale would quickly evaporate.  They were clearly suspicious of dishonesty from publishers, and it looked a lot like I lied about price to just to close the sale.

After I admitted my error, my contact told me she’d get back to me and hung up the phone.  An hour later, she let me know they’d be working with me for the next three years.

I had won the sale, not in spite of my mistake, but because of it.  They were impressed at my honesty, with me coming clean so quickly and putting the order on the line instead of sweeping the issue under the rug.  They didn’t choose my product.  They chose me.

When a customer buys something from you, they’re not just buying the product, they’re buying the person they bought it from.  I didn’t need to be perfect to close the sale…just honest.  It’s my best closing tool.   

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