From Lost Trust to Lost Business—How to Avoid This Business Killer

Published on June 27, 2017

A key executive for one of my clients passed away recently, and although I tried desperately, I could not make my travel arrangements work out properly to get to the funeral service. To make matters even worse, the morning of the funeral I realized I had forgotten to send flowers.


I immediately called a florist, but it was just two hours before the service. I placed my order and asked whether they could guarantee the flowers would be there in time. Without that guarantee, I was not going to place the order. I was on my way to the airport at the time, and the call took thirty minutes because I was put on hold multiple times. Ultimately I was told my order was not a problem, and the flowers would make it to their destination in time for the service.

Thirty-five minutes later I received a text saying they were having trouble with the shipment. It was now about ninety minutes until the service started. I called and was put on hold for five minutes, and then I was told they couldn’t deliver until the next day. The next day? Of course, I explained that that was unacceptable, and then I was put on hold for ten more minutes as I was trying to make my way through airport security. While I waited, I thought about why someone would “guarantee” something they couldn’t do. Eventually, a supervisor came on the line, and he said there was no way for the flowers to be delivered on time, let alone the same day. So I canceled my order.

Not long after my cancellation, I received THREE emails requesting that I participate in a customer service survey. I was both furious and amused. I had already decided that I would never use that vendor every again. They had put me on hold multiple times, and they had given me a false promise. Why should I take any of my valuable time to communicate with them and help them to improve? There was no reason to. They had let me down at a critical moment and lost my business forever.

Do your actions back up your word? Do you live behind what you say? Life can be challenging, and sometimes bad things happen: you might lose your job or your house or your savings. The good news is that you can come back from such losses if you have your word. If you lose your word and people don’t trust you, those things may never come back.

As a salesperson, as a leader, are you standing behind your word? As a Sales and Leadership expert, I know firsthand the value of keeping your word. When words are your currency to influence and lead people, you better back them up with action, because you can’t lead without trust. Once you get caught not supporting your word, it presents nearly insurmountable obstacles to influence and leadership. Call me if you need help building trust in your organization.