Mistakes in medical sales: How to fix them and earn the customer’s respect

If you sell medical devices, there are times when mistakes, oversights, and failures will have fingers pointing in your direction.

Your company ships the wrong product or a defective product.

You relay information to a customer that’s incorrect.

You forget to bring something that a customer or patient needs.

You fail to show for a scheduled appointment.

Even the best of the best medical sales professionals have awkward moments of error.  Better to be prepared with a plan as to how you’re going to address mistakes than to bury your head in the sand and pretend it won’t happen to you.

Mistakes in healthcare have potentially serious consequences.  If you develop a reputation as being careless, you will be shunned by doctors, hospitals, and other providers in an effort to reduce risk and inconvenience, and that reputation can last a long time.  Customers might not remember all the value that you provided to them and their patients over the years, but they won’t soon forget the times when you screw up!

The good news is:  They will also remember how you respond to and handle any problems or mistakes!

When something goes wrong, whether it’s with your product, your service, or something that your company or you did or didn’t do, you need to address it—even if the customer acts as if it’s not a big deal.   You can’t afford a lapse in your customer’s confidence or trust where you or your products are concerned.  Avoid this by addressing problems quickly and completely by doing the following:

-Take ownership of fixing the problem.  Nothing ticks off a customer like a sales rep who tries to pin the blame on someone else.  Maybe it’s not YOUR fault, but if you have the power to fix it… Fix It!

-Apologize for what happened.   If you are the one who messed up, offer a heartfelt apology for doing so.  If someone else in your company made a mistake, you can apologize without taking direct ownership by simply saying, “I’m sorry that happened to you.”

-Explain to the customer how the mistake occurred (or might have occurred) and what steps have been taken to prevent it from ever happening again.  Most of your customers understand that human beings make mistakes, but they won’t understand if a mistake is repeated because of carelessness.  Provide them with the confidence to move forward and trust you.

-YOU make sure that it NEVER happens again.  Seriously!  You’re in a situation where you’re going to have to be more vigilant.  Have a plan in place to double-check all of your efforts for the customer and make sure it includes your company, your employees or associates, and especially yourself.   One small oversight or moment of carelessness can cost you the customer’s business as well as your good reputation.

-Thank the customer for being understanding and for providing an opportunity for you and your company to become better at what you do so you can serve your customers better.  Mean it!

I can’t promise that every customer will give you another chance if you should err, but your odds of salvaging business increase greatly when you take ownership of a mistake, fix it, and prevent it from happening again.  Handle any mistake or problem like a professional and you will not only earn the customer’s continued business, you’ll also earn something that may be even more valuable in the long run—The Customer’s Respect.