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A Thing

Making Lemonade Out of a Bad Day

You finally scheduled the first meeting with that hard-to-nail-down prospect. Driving to the merchant's location, the freeway was jammed and the surface streets were clogged, too. You're late for the meeting and rush in to meet the merchant. When you get there, you're so flustered you spill coffee down the front of your white shirt. Then, as you start the presentation, your laptop crashes.

Things appear to be going from bad to worse. You're not just having a bad day; this one has all the makings of a really bad day. What do you do?

Take a deep breath and a mental step back. Count to five. You need to realize that your customer is going to be "reading" you, just as you look for signals from him or her. The prospect will pick up on and possibly misinterpret any negative feelings or attitudes you project. Put aside the needs of your ego and focus on the needs of the customer. Your bad day is meaningless to the prospect.

Apologize, but don't make excuses. In fact, don't even get into the details of what happened. The prospect doesn't need to know, and probably doesn't particularly care, that you used an online map service and it gave you poor directions, or that your laptop got a virus last month and hasn't been the same since. You're there now-simply apologize and move on. Your time, and your prospect's time, are too valuable to waste on explanations.

What if you don't get this deal? You might very well get the account, but even if you don't, get over it and move on to the next one. Everyone has bad days, so don't dwell on it and let one turn into three, four or even more. Accept it for what it is-just one bad day. Move forward with the attitude that the next one will be better.

You've heard the expression, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." There are tricks to turning a bad day around and learning something from it. Now you know to bring a hard copy of your presentation for backup, just in case. You can still download and print the directions from that Web site, but from now on, you will also go "old school" and carry your trusty road atlas. And you might also even keep an extra white shirt in the car, just in case.

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