Fall on Your Sword

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An effective way to build credibility &/or mend a bad relationship in sales

Fall on Your Sword: Definition: To voluntarily take the blame or responsibility for a situation.

It’s an all-too familiar scenario these days – the challenges caused by the lack of resources coupled with the supply chain issues . . .

A customer or two is singing to a different sheet of music than you are. Maybe it’s the way they resent your pricing. Could be that there was a missed or late delivery & they still haven’t gotten over it. Might have been a communication gap & they are still holding a grudge. Maybe the last rep on the account was depriving some village of its idiot. Or, let’s face it, there could just be a miss-match in personalities (your personality). It happens. Ever wonder, “What can I do about it or How can I fix this?” Great questions. Here is a very simple five-part solution:

1. Address it head on. Just ask. 

It’s not complicated & it’s not mysterious. If you don’t know the issue it’s OK to ask. It’s OK to talk about it. One big mistake to make is assuming that you know what your client’s issues are & why the relationship has gone sour. Nothing will make the situation worse for you & prevent you from driving more revenue than thinking that you know what’s wrong & acting (wrongfully) within that vacuum. Just ask.

2. Don’t get defensive. 

The second thing you must do to repair the relationship or get over a “sticking point” is to not ever get defensive. Listen to what you’re being told & just accept it. AKA: “fall on your sword.” It takes a strong person to do this, but you will be respected for it. When salespeople feel that they must be right all the time this kills the relationship quickly. Suck it up, take it like a sales professional & show that you “get it.” Saying things like “I get it” or “I understand” or “That makes sense” helps a lot.

3. Eliminate the word “but” & listen. 

If you answer everything with “but,” you negate everything the client has said (& everything you have said). Instead, try using “and” as a way to respond. This says, “I understand.”

4. Make sure you ask how you’re doing.

Asking “how” is a great way to take the temperature of your relationship & allows the client to answer. Then you both move on. A few examples: How are we doing? What are some things we can do to improve?

5. Remember who you work for.

When all is said & done you still work for who you work for. It is important to always keep this top of mind. You are not “taking sides”. When you “suck it up” & let them know you “get it” this does not mean that all of a sudden it becomes you two against your company. It is crucial that you continue to represent your company the way you know how – with pride & respect.

It’s important to note that there are people that are INCAPABLE of Falling on Their Sword. They can’t do it. It takes a strong person to point the finger at themselves (or at their company) & take the heat. This is why it is such an effective tactic. When you Fall on Your Sword you build credibility. It’s a class act that helps you set yourself apart from your competition. It’s hard enough to sell in the summer of 2021 – why make it any harder? Separate yourself from others in your industry & reap the benefits of it.

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Dave Tear

Dave is passionate about selling & helping others understand the sales process. Whether a client company has a 5 person sales team or a 300 person National sales force, Dave can Coach & Train them to be the best in their industry.
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