Caused by you or another seller, deliberately or not, it doesn’t matter. Handle historical injustices by owning them

Historical injustice is a past moral wrong committed by people, now dead, that has a lasting impact on the well-being of people in present day. In Kenya, we are more familiar with the term in relation to land issues. I was thus amused when I heard it used (quite aptly) in reference to past mistakes other sellers have committed, and now another seller finds are impeding his sales activities.

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Examples of historical injustices

‘Historical injustices’ are a reality the seller must take in stride. They come with the territory. Lamenting over them as an excuse not to sell is limiting yourself. Admittedly, it’s not easy to do so when you are at the receiving end of one. This is because the ‘injustice’ is usually unleashed as a curveball and in a curt manner by the aggrieved person.

“You! You from Bank INC. You are all liars! I have told everyone here not to buy from your bank.” All this is shouted in an open-plan office, at the hapless seller. All seventeen prospects hear it; and worse, it’s from their Supervisor. His authority energizes the accusation.

Handle historical injustices

Take them in stride

Just like that, the seller’s upbeat mood and dream plan for the day are stopped cold, drowned in a tsunami of negative energy. Forget that he is clueless about the Supervisor’s accusation. Any version of, “It wasn’t me” will only rile the Supervisor more. So. Recovering quickly, and knowing salespeople cannot hold a grudge, the progressive seller owns the accusation. He says, “I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience with us. Please tell me what happened.” It turns out that four months before, his colleague told the Supervisor he qualifies for a loan in three months. But when he applied he was told, “No, it’s after six months.”

Now then. This successful seller knows that this ‘historical injustice’ must be addressed immediately and conclusively, if any meaningful progress is to be made. Retreating to another market with your tail between your legs just delays your building capacity to handle historical injustices. And it makes you irresponsible. This is because, there is no purely clean air in selling; it all has pockets of pollution. Caused by you or another, deliberately or not, it doesn’t matter. Your retreating weakens you as a seller and strengthens the prospect’s belief (and the seventeen other staff) that, “You are all liars!”

How to handle historical injustices

So, the seller says: “Again, I’m really sorry to hear that and I will address it with (the offender he mentioned). It is true it’s after six months and thank you for not closing your account. If it’s ok with you, may I see your last six months statements? I’d like to assess your chances of getting a loan when you re-apply.”

The seller peruses them and says, “I can’t guarantee it but your chances are good. Here’s why.” He shows him. “In fact, I will personally handle your loan application then. In the meantime, is it ok if you introduce me to your staff that I may share with them what we have?” It is very unlikely he declines.


You may like to read: How to sell in a crisis- a step-by-step guide. The case of Airbnb.


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