The Best Thing that Ever Happened to a Sales Rep

There is an urban legend that a guy went to Nordstroms to return four tires. When it was his turn in the customer service line, he was prepared for an argument, especially since he did not have a receipt. He railed about what a good customer he is to the store, how much he spends, and so on, loudly stating his case.

When he was done, the agent asked how much the customer spent on the tires and the man fired back a number. Looking up from his computer, the agent said, “Sir, I have credited your account for that amount. We appreciate your business, but please know for the future that Nordstroms does not sell tires.”

Is that a true story? Don’t know. Don’t care. It exemplifies the fact that the best thing that can happen is for a screw up to occur.

In this case, Nordstroms has benefited from some excellent PR. Imagine crediting a company for something they didn’t even sell in the first place. How this situation was handled demonstrated that Nordstroms is a quality company, one that empowers employees to do the right thing—and worth every danged penny spent.

Nordstroms came out better BECAUSE of the problem! Had this knucklehead customer not shown up to complain, he wouldn’t have an above-average view of Nordstroms. But because he did, his story has been told a 100,000 times and he no doubt holds the company in the highest of regard.

Is the lesson here to screw up a few orders? Um, no!

But keep it in mind that in every problem there is an opportunity. Remember that when your next job goes bad. Make a statement like, “This is an opportunity for me to demonstrate why you do business with me.” And then go out, take back those tires, and knock the customer’s socks off.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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