Mistakes happen. It is inevitable. How you handle the gaffe, I believe, is what makes the difference between winners and losers.
Passionately believing in doing right by others, I’m pained to know that someone had a business experience with me today that was anything but wow. And the unfortunate irony is that I had just finished an article for the October issue of Top Sales World. The topic focused on customer experience and the importance of considering what the experience is like for people who will interact with you and your employees – sales, marketing, service, finance, HR, operations – on behalf of your company brand.
Here’s how I screwed up.
I use a scheduling tool called TimeTrade. Hours of wasted time and hassle when scheduling meetings are mostly a thing of the past. When I agree to meet with someone, I simply send them a link to my calendar. They find an opening that works for us both and book the time. My calendar is automatically updated and all is right with the world. That is until it isn’t.
As a general rule, I do not share the calendar link publicly. A few months back though, the link was included at the bottom of a newsletter with a little blurb that said if you’d like to have a conversation about our social selling services you can use the link to book a meeting. What ensued was some temporary chaos. More than one sales person used that as an opportunity to book time on my calendar. Their objective wasn’t to learn about our services however. Their goal was to try and sell me on theirs. The lack of integrity some sales people display still surprises me.
I learned from that lesson, and honestly, it has been about 5 months since it happened. I had forgotten all about it.
Which leads me to my goof…
Looking at my calendar this morning, I notice that I am scheduled to have a meeting with someone I do not recognize at all. Not a personal contact, we are not connected on LinkedIn, and I do not recall ever meeting the individual. Then again, I meet thousands of people each year and there are thousands more in our database and my social networks. I see so many examples of what sellers should not do that I think my judgment was clouded. And the message in the schedule confirmation seemed suspicious. Perhaps a classic example of seeing what you expect to see.
What to do?
I didn’t want to be a jerk, but I didn’t want to waste my time either. Been there, done that. I sent a message to the person and asked them to clarify for me the purpose of the call. Without thinking, I went on to say that I typically know the people that I am meeting with.
In the moment, asking for clarity about the call’s purpose made sense. After all, it did not say that the meeting was to discuss social selling services. But that is irrelevant. Forgetting that we were the ones who sent the public link in the first place was certainly my first mistake. I compounded my mistake when I assumed that this individual’s intentions were less than honorable. As a result, I did not think more carefully about the words I used, nor did I consider what the question would feel like to the person reading my message.
When you screw up, offer a sincere apology. And, offer to make it right. I did both. We will see what happens.