4 reasons why blaming ‘They’ in Sales weakens you and your sales

Respect yourself, respect the customer and honour your profession—quit passing the buck. “Your account was to be credited yesterday but “they” haven’t done it.” “They” had said that “they” would email you the ticket but it appears they did not. “They” were supposed to have sent you the cheque book last week, you mean “they” didn’t? Such are examples of the blame game by customer facing staff. Blaming ‘they’ in sales weakens you, your sales and customer confidence in you.

“They” (whoever that is) are often blamed for all things that have gone wrong. “They” are expected to bear the brunt of an angry customer.

This workplace blame game usually extends beyond field sales and to front office staff. But nothing irritates the customer more than blaming an amorphous “they”.

Read: Front office staff can boost sales and grow their careers

Workplace blaming culture

The salesperson often uses “they” to remove himself from the direct line of fire from a customer when the organization (typically the back office) fails to deliver.

(Read: Here’s how to break the stalemate with “slow” back office for insights on how to handle the blame game at work)

For instance, after having signed the loan offer letter, the client is promised that the funds will be disbursed (loan put into his account) by the end of the following day. The client then issues cheques against the promised loan and dates them two days after the promised time. Four days later, he learns that his cheque has bounced. Shocked, he calls the bank to find out why, only to find a hapless front office staff who casually shrugs it off: “You had insufficient funds”. The member of staff, to exonerate himself, blames “they” for not crediting (putting money in) the account.

Taking Accountability: The 4 Pitfalls of Blaming ‘They’ in Sales

Put yourself in the client’s shoes. How does it feel to be told by the attendant that the reason your car is not repaired, despite having spent the whole day at the dealer’s shop is because ‘“they” didn’t say it was in the queue’ or an explanation by a nurse looking after your sick mother in ICU that the reason the old lady lapsed into a coma because “they” forgot to turn on the oxygen?

The salesman must remember four things. One is that shirking responsibility reflects badly on him. You represent your company or institution in good times and in bad, not when it suits you.

blaming They in Sales

It reflects poorly on you to blame a nonentity. The client thinks poorer of you than the institution, just as you would of the negligent nurse. At that moment, the consumer’s anger does not transfer to “they”, it focuses on you and your ineptness. There is no upside to blaming ‘they’ in sales.

Secondly, the last thing a disappointed and angry customer wants is buck-passing. He wants someone to take responsibility and that person is you. He wants to hear how his problem will be solved and an apology for the inconvenience. A timeline for response with a solution would help.

Read: Are your processes losing your company sales? (Are they inspiring a blame game culture?)

Blame game (finger-pointing) erodes customer confidence

He also wants to be told he will get a discount on the car repairs because of the oversight and that his loan has been disbursed, the charges reversed and that he can re-bank the cheque. Acknowledgement of his problem and a solution do not hurt. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Do I know Kenyan banks? Yes, I do.)

The third minus for the salesman who finger-points is that it weakens him. If organizations were the armed forces marketing would be the air force and salespeople, the army; sales people would be in the frontline. They feel the intensity of war and take its heat. Overcoming this makes them stronger and better at their profession. Handling an angry customer efficiently and tactfully earns one more respect from the client.

Read: Handle historical injustices by owning them

Blaming ‘They’ in Sales

Lastly, the folly of blaming a hazy or faceless “they” in sales, is that the client does not care! He only knows you. You sold him the product; you told him that your institution is the land of milk and honey; and, you are his point of contact. And you never mentioned “they” who would be handling his complaints. Why now? The client does not care about your internal operations and, quite frankly, shouldn’t– milk and honey are meant to flow smoothly, not is spurts.

Respect yourself, respect the client and honour your profession—quit passing the buck.

Read: Protect your reputation when selling, even with the odds against you


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