The Mistake

Everybody makes mistakes, even sales managers. The reality is, we have all done something that we should not have done.  We all make bad decisions or commit to things we should not commit to and we need to deal with the consequences.  So, how do you deal with it?

First, assess the situation.  You have to admit that a mistake has been made.  Recognize that you did something and think about the consequences of what has happened.  How bad is the mistake and what will need to be done to make things right?


How do you handle it?

From the time we are children, we learn how to handle the mistakes we have made. Whether it was blaming someone else, burying the problem, or owning up to it, we’ve been learning how to handle mistakes our whole lives. Translating this into business means depending on which persona you had growing up, you may need to make some changes.

The first persona many people learn is that honesty is the best policy and to tell the truth about what has happened in the first place.  If you fall into that category then you will fare well.  However, other people grew up trying to hide their mistakes so that they would avoid consequences. In this dishonesty the problem arises when someone discovers you made the mistake and then they lose trust in you; if you hide one mistake, what else are you hiding?

The second persona is when people try to ignore mistakes and then when the mistake is discovered they deny knowing anything about it.  Of course, when the truth is uncovered there is a trust issue again. On the other end of that spectrum, you have others that fix things on their own and then hope that nobody has noticed.

Knowing these personas it is important to know where you fall on the spectrum and how you handle your own mistakes.  Typically, wherever you stood as a kid will still be how you deal with things as an adult. Unless of course, you make a conscious choice to make some changes.  It is also important to note how you act when you make a mistake is also a good indicator of how you will react if someone else makes a mistake.

You want a team of sales reps who can own up to mistakes and work with the team on solutions to fix whatever may have gone wrong.  This will create a culture where everyone is responsible and accountable for their own actions.


Honesty is the best policy

Whenever a mistake is made, honesty is the best policy.  The first step is to get ahead of the mistake by admitting that you made a mistake in the first place. Then determine what you need to do to make things right.  It is important to focus on the problem rather than trying to hide it and hope it goes away.

Being honest about a mistake will change the narrative of the situation and give you credibility with your team.  If you own up to mistakes people do not feel that you are trying to hide anything.  They know that you take responsibility for what you say and do and they will follow suit; which is exactly the type of culture you want to create.

Rather than playing the blame game or making excuses, confront the mistake head on and work toward solving the problem.  Then, apologize for the mistakes that you have made and then focus on a resolution.  It is hard for people to argue with honesty and they will appreciate a straight forward and up front approach.  If you try to hide a mistake and it is discovered, people will wonder what else you are trying to hide.



A good leader takes responsibility for their actions.  If you hold yourself to the same standard that you hold the rest of the team, they will appreciate your efforts to hold yourself to the same expectations.  This will help them to see that it is okay (and actually appreciated) to own up to mistakes so they can be dealt with.

Owning up to mistakes actually takes less work than the effort required in trying to hide it or trying to fix it on your own.  If you own up to it, you will have people working with you to try and come up with a solution. (Rather than doing it on your own)  When you own up to your own mistakes it puts you in a position as a respected leader and you are setting an example for the rest of the team.

Glenn Llopis once wrote, “Leaders are not responsible for always being right.  However, they are accountable to see that problems become opportunities and solutions are proactively found so that momentum is never lost.”  A good leader should be looking to the rest of the team to find the expert in the problematic area and empower that person to help with a solution.  There is no shame in a leader who empowers their team and seeks their expertise in problem-solving.  In this way, if a mistake is made by one team member, a solution is sought by all.

A good leader is comfortable in the knowledge that they make mistakes and others will also make mistakes.  It is how they are dealt with that determines the success of the team as a whole.


Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.


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