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Sales and Selling Jokes and Jokers

One of my sales reps and I were at a meeting with one of our best customers when this rep made an inappropriate comment that she thought was cute, but it made the customer bristle. I didn't say anything at the time, but I wonder if I did the right thing, and what to do now?

It is never a good sign when words like "best customer" and "bristle" are used in the same sentence. At this point, the only way to know if you did the right thing is if your best customer has become your former customer.

There is no precise formula to follow in a sales situation where one of your associates has a judgmental eclipse. Perhaps the best way to determine if you should say something is by looking carefully at your customer's reaction to the comment.

If your customer truly bristled at your colleague's remarks, it may have been helpful for you to try to defuse the situation on the spot. This does not mean that you should have reprimanded your associate in front of the client, unless you wanted to demonstrate that you too are capable of incredibly bad judgment. Sometimes a light comment like, "I don't think that came out the way it was intended," followed by an easy apology is all that is necessary. From that point, you can take more direct control of the meeting and keep it focused on business.

In terms of what to do now, there is nothing to discuss with the customer. The incident is over and done. However, your colleague remains an issue. She needs to be given feedback regarding her behavior, as well as guidance regarding professional interaction with customers. She also needs to understand that if she makes any more cute remarks, things will get ugly.

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