• July 26, 2016

4 Epic Real Life Sales Failures that You Don’t Want To Make

What does a fantasy football team, a meeting request, and edible underwear all have in common? They are all areas some of my fellow sales friends messed up.

In sales, there is pressure to always be on top of your game. But, we’re human and at times we do stupid shit and just have to live and learn from those mistakes.  Don’t beat yourself up too bad for your mishaps though, because we all have them. So download Spiro, so you can prevent future sales failures, and get on with your day.

1. Don’t Just Do It

Take the sales guys at Nike, for instance. Back in 2013 they had the client of a lifetime – Stephen Curry –  and were pitching for him to stay with the brand. It should have been an easy sell since he was already a customer and a long-time Nike fan. But A LOT went wrong in that sales meeting.

It started off sour when the big shots from Nike weren’t present and a salesperson mispronounced Stephen’s name. It continued to go downhill from there when the Nike guys put up a PowerPoint presentation with Kevin Durant’s info on it, and showed a lack of interest in really knowing their client by failing to offer Steph the extra little things that mattered to him, like hosting a basketball camp for young athletes. In the end, he walked away from Nike, went with Under Armour, and has been making them a buttload of money!

Most sales mistakes aren’t as colossal as what went wrong with the Nike deal, but still tales to live and learn from.  I’m sure you have all heard the story of the guy who FedExed a proposal to UPS, right? Well, here are a few more sales confessionals from sales professionals.

2. Warming the Bench

My buddy Roger was getting ready to present in a prospect’s conference room, and while waiting for the prospect to come in, thought he would quickly check his fantasy football lineup. You know how it goes: you forgot about that Thursday night game, and you need to make a critical substitution.

Unfortunately, Roger forgot he was projecting his laptop screen on the wall, so when the CEO of the company walked into the room, the first thing he saw was Roger’s line-up. The CEO took one look and promptly left the room, never to return. Needless to say, he didn’t win that meeting.

Roger did however swallow his embarrassment and for a few years, he invited the CEO to join his fantasy football league. He never joined, but it helped Roger turn the situation into a positive one in his mind.

3. The April Fool

Another sales confessional comes from a friend of a friend, let’s call her Tricia. She was an account manager at Oracle and had Cisco as one of her big clients. It was time for a quarterly check-in to try and upgrade their renewal.

Tricia must have had a brain fart when scheduling that meeting because she sent her Cisco contact, who sells Webex, an invitation to meet through join.me, a competitor’s product.

Surprisingly, the client accepted the meeting, and luckily Tricia caught and fixed her mistake before the call happened. She played it off as a practical joke, since it happened to be around April Fool’s Day. In the end, Tricia learned the lesson to be aware of who you are selling to.

4. Skipped Spell Check

Some sales mistakes seem so minor, but can actually be super offensive. Take the time my cousin, who did fundraising for a Food Bank, made a simple spelling error that turned a lot of people off (and maybe a few people on…) He wrote a letter soliciting past donors for more money, so a sales proposal, if you will.

Instead of saying the funds raised would go to help the local “food pantries”, he typed “food panties”. One missing “r” and he was all of a sudden he was collecting money to promote edible underwear.

Seems like a harmless mistake, but there were a few irate little old ladies that called to complain. Shall we say they, “got their panties in a bunch?” Next time, let spell-check be your friend!

Make Some Good Out of the Bad

No matter how big or little a sales mess-up is, there is always something you can take away and improve upon. I find it valuable to share my mistakes with my team, so they can hopefully learn from my mishaps and not have to make the same ones. Let us know in the comments if you have sales failures to confess!