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The Perfect Way to Benefit from Mistakes

Mark Twain once said, "I don't trust anyone who can't spell a word two ways." In other words, he was in touch with his imperfect side. Are you in touch with yours? And do you encourage your team to positively acknowledge theirs?

Embracing shortcomings rather than evading them is the sign of any successful and self-confident salesperson. Is there a professional out there who doesn't make their quota of errors? But owning up to them and learning from them is a skill too many find too elusive.

The payment-processing environment is changing at such an alarming rate that few players have the time to master the rules before they're changed. That constant movement means you'll be making a mistake or two. If you can admit to them, laugh at them and learn from them, you'll be able to leave them behind and advance to the next challenge.

Here are a few pointers to encourage the team to turn mistakes into a positive:

  • Perfect Retort Principle. In the middle of a PowerPoint presentation, a typo rears its ugly head on the 20-foot screen. Or while co-reading the hottest and slickest presentation you've ever put together with the prospect, he finds a misspelled word. Remember, it's all in the delivery. Just say, "My assistant knows I am a perfectionist. He always adds one or two errors so I'll experience the joy of finding one." If that doesn't elicit a chuckle or two, you're in the wrong room!

  • Standing Ovation Strategy. If a co-worker is having a bad day and, despite Herculean efforts, is struggling with a sales presentation, have him or her stand up and receive a robust round of applause. It will stimulate smiles and ease tension. It will show the team that every effort is rewarded.

  • Blunder Bonus. At the end of your next staff meeting, put a $10 or $20 bill (or whatever you consider an appropriate amount) on your conference table and share with the team your latest blooper. End with, "Anyone who can top that deserves this bill."

As stories are shared around the room, trust is reinforced since everyone is demonstrating their willingness to show their imperfect side. The personal anecdotes will surely evoke laughter. When lessons are learned from each other's mistakes with humor, those are lessons that will be remembered.

Being perfect takes a whole lot of energy and squeezes all the joy out of the job. Acknowledging your imperfections, on the other hand, opens all sorts of avenues for energy to flow and deals to finalize.

Remember, it's all about laughing at what you do, not who you are. It's easy to admit you made a mistake when the environment is designed to promote productivity and self-confidence. Self-confidence translates to sales.

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