What’s your sales horror story?

Closing and success stories are super popular, but what about real screw-ups? Do you guys have any sales memories you cringe at the thought of? To start, here’s mine: I work as a technical sales rep and a couple years back, I had a demonstration for a prospect I really wanted to sell to. I had prepared for this for weeks and was super paranoid about being late, so I arrived about 40 minutes earlier and grabbed a grape soda to calm my nerves. I was on the elevator up, giving myself a final one over when I noticed on the mirror surface that my mouth, lips, teeth, and tongue were all bright purple! Rushed to the nearest bathroom but couldn’t get it off for the life of me. I was mortified but still forced myself to walk into the room and give the pitch. People laughed it off but, no surprise that no sales were made that day.

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Hey @jess_ar, thanks for sharing your sales horror story! It’s always cathartic to share embarrassing stories. I am a sales rep for a Japanese firm and when I was starting out, I made a lot of cultural mistakes. On my first trip to Japan, I didn’t know 1 word of the language. Needless to say, it was a culture shock to me. I was late to their office, I shook hands instead of bowing, and couldn’t hold chopsticks at our first dinner out. I’m happy to say I’m working on my Japanese and learning cultural norms. Sales can still be made after an embarrassing moment!

Hi @jess_ar, I think every person who works in sales has stories like these, but it’s nice to be reminded that it happens to everyone. One time, I had a meeting with a potential client early in the morning, and I slept through my alarm. I woke up an hour later, and I only had 20 minutes before I had to leave! I rushed to get ready, brushed my hair, put on some makeup, and bolted out the door. I arrived at the meeting and the woman looked at me funny the whole time. When I went to the bathroom after the meeting, I realized why - I had only put makeup only on one eye! Needless to say, now I always double check I have a full face of makeup on before I leave the house.

Oh man, thanks for sharing everyone! It’s nice to remember everyone has these moments. A memorable one for me was when I went into a prospect’s office and he was SUPER into Japanese performance art and it showed. I have a friend who’s an art buff and remember her telling me about a performance called “Electric Dress” that the prospect had a print of hanging up. Trying to start the conversation, I pointed it out and the prospect was so excited someone else knew about the Gutai movement (which I only found out the name of later) that he started going into its history and impact, and showed me all the other photos he had! It took about a dozen “mhm”, “yes”, and “cool”s before I had to admit I actually didn’t know anything about the subject. That killed the mood real quick (and of course, I didn’t close the sale).

A super rookie mistake looking back now, but I was mortified at the time. When I first started sales, I had a manager who wouldn’t let us get on calls until we had memorized the presentation, word by word. I remember staying up most of the night reading the script over and over, until I had it down. Day of, I thought I delivered it perfectly and was super proud of myself until after the questions, my lead told me his name wasn’t “Mr. Prospect”. Luckily my manager thought it was hilarious, but it haunted me for days.