Everyone makes mistakes. How you handle your sales mistake can actually help you build rapport with customers.

In the insurance sales industry, just like any other industry, mistakes happen. Deadlines get missed. Something causes you or a colleague to drop the ball on a sale. It happens. Even worse, sometimes mistakes happen in front of your customer. How you handle your sales mistake can define the future of your relationship with a customer. No pressure! Consider these tips and strategies the next time you make a faux pas in front of your customer.

Be upfront with the apology

If you make a sales mistake in front of your customer, it may be tempting to not call attention to it. Your first instinct might be to quickly change topics in an effort to sweep the issue under the proverbial rug. But that strategy can backfire on you, especially with savvy customers. By apologizing for the mistake upfront, you’re demonstrating the important qualities of honesty and forthrightness. While a mistake can be disappointing to a client, at the moment, your honesty and humility is a good indicator of your character. This helps build trust between you and your customer.

Take responsibility for it

Tell your client that you take responsibility for the issue when it arises. This is true even if the blame might be shared between you, other colleagues, and customers themselves. By owning the mistake, you show confidence in your overall ability to fix it. The key when taking responsibility for a sales mistake is to be confident in your delivery. Customers want to know they are in good hands. They will be more understanding of a snafu if they feel like you’ll be able to see guide them through it.

Empathize with customer

A sales mistake can really put a damper on the momentum of a deal. Depending on the type of sales mistake, your customer may be upset. It’s natural to become defensive at the moment but lean into their emotion with empathy. Phrases like, “I understand this isn’t going as smoothly as you hoped,” and “I can sense your frustration, and I just want you to know that I completely understand why you feel this way.” When you empathize with a customer, you are showing them that you are actively listening to their concerns. This validates them and helps save your relationship.

Explain what went wrong

It’s important that if you make a sales mistake in front of a customer, that you understand and explain what went wrong. Include the customer in this to make sure you’ve captured their experience of the situation accurately. This works in two ways. One, it allows you to paint a full picture of the situation which will help you and your team figure out how it happened in the first place. But, perhaps, more importantly, it gives your customer a voice to further air out their frustration. Use questions like, “Am I understanding this correctly?” and “Is this how you would describe the situation?” Even a question like, “Am I missing anything here?” allows your customer an opportunity to express any additional concerns they may have in a productive environment.

Propose a solution

Your knee-jerk reaction when making a sales mistake might be to immediately propose a solution. And while it’s important to show your customer that you are not going to leave them hanging, it’s just as important to fully understand the situation. This sometimes means that you won’t have a solution right then and there. If this is the case, share with your customer something like, “In order to resolve this issue as quickly as possible with the best outcome for you (the client), I’d like to loop in (your colleagues) to get everyone on the same page.” This strategy buys you a little bit of time to consult with your supervisor and/or colleagues on the best solution. Of course, if a solution is easily identified in the moment, share that information right away.

Be transparent about follow up actions

Whatever the response from your sales mistake, be sure to communicate exact follow-up steps with your customers. This is especially important because mistakes can cause a customer to doubt your abilities. By being transparent with your follow-up steps, you are slowly regaining their trust and confidence in you.

Demonstrate how you’ll prevent future mistakes

Once you’ve rectified your sales mistake, it’s important to assure your customer that this type of error won’t be happening again. An example would be if the mistake was a simple clerical error, then you could share that you plan on reviewing all documents carefully with the customer in the future.

The biggest takeaway from any sales mistake is the teachable moment that comes from it. Once the dust settles and your customer has once again entrusted you in their insurance buying process, take the time to do a post-mortem on your sales mistake. Is this an opportunity to improve one of your systems? Is there a way to leverage software or other technology to help prevent a mistake like this from happening again? Bounce your ideas off a colleague and get their perspective as well. Mistakes can be launchpads for major improvements and advances. Take advantage of them!

Working with HBW Leads will give you more time to examine your processes and do a deep dive into system improvements. Leave the lead generation to HBW Leads who will provide you with double verified and exclusive leads.