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We all make mistakes. The key is to know how to bounce back from them.

As I grow the Catapulting Commissions brand, I’ve been working with contractors to fill some roles. Most of the experiences have been great, but I had one last week that stood out for all the wrong reasons.

It had me thinking about the sales process, and how we all make mistakes at some point in our sales process. This particular vendor made a mistake and handled it all wrong. So today I want to talk about what went wrong and three things you can do to smooth over a mistake when you make one.

What went wrong

It started out fine. I was introduced to this company via LinkedIn. We set up an appointment to meet virtually at the end of the week.

In the days leading up to the meeting, I got plenty of reminders of our upcoming appointment. I even got a video that shared all the ways this company could transform my business. These reminders and the video helped me feel comfortable meeting with a sales rep whom I’d only met on LinkedIn.

On the day of the meeting, I went to the Zoom link provided and waited.

I was the first one in the “room.” Here’s my thought process as the clock ticked:

2 minutes in: No big deal
5 minutes in: No big deal, but this is weird.
7 minutes in: Okay I have a hard stop in 23 minutes. I better send an email asking where they are.
*sends email
10 minutes in: I’m giving this two more minutes and I’m out.
12 minutes in: I’m done.

I was unhappy about this, and I sent another email after I left the meeting room. ‘It seems we had a disconnect, as no one showed up in the meeting. Thank you for your time.’

Maybe that wasn’t the right move– to walk away from the sale. But I want to share this from a consumer perspective. You’re going to lose a lot of customers if you can’t show up to your first meeting. That email is called a takeaway close, and I knew it would get a reaction.

Missing the meeting was bad enough, but there was still a chance they’d have gotten me back if they’d handled the next part of this differently.

Immediately after sending that email, I get a phone call. There were a lot of words, but they boiled down to this:

“I didn’t do anything wrong. You must not know how to use Zoom properly.”


There are so many things wrong with this. Even if he genuinely thought I didn’t know how to use Zoom (please), he never should have blamed me for this mishap. I sent an email after 7 minutes. How did he miss that email but not the one where I sent my takeaway close?

The answer doesn’t matter. The point is he continued to mess up even after he missed the meeting. There was a chance to smooth things over, and he missed it. Here’s three things you can do to smooth over a mistake in your sales process.

Take responsibility

This is so basic I can’t even believe I have to say it. Even if you are 100% sure your prospect is at fault, you do not put the blame on them. You will never win a client if you can’t take responsibility for something as simple as a missed connection. The first words out of his mouth should have been “I’m sorry we didn’t connect. I must have sent out the wrong zoom link…”

Show empathy

I wasted a lot of time on what ended up being a missed connection. It wasn’t just the 12 minutes of me waiting for him not to show up. Leading up to the meeting, I went back and forth with them a few times, opened reminder emails, and watched a video. I got nothing out of it. He should have acknowledged that. “I know how busy you are. I appreciate that you were willing to take a chance on us, and I apologize for taking up your time.”

Ask how you can fix it

The final step is to ask for another chance. To be clear, it might not work. The person might be so done that they don’t offer you another shot. But you have to let the prospect know that you value the opportunity to work with them. “How can I fix it? If you have time to meet now I am happy to get on a call, or we can reschedule for a time that works for you.”

At the end of the day, we all make mistakes. Most prospects have a tolerance for that. They know technology can confuse things or that mistakes are inevitable. What’s more important is how you handle your mistakes. Make it right, and you might get a second chance. Mess it up, and you’ve definitely lost an opportunity.

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