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No one wants to make an error. Whether a mistake costs you an opportunity, a client, or something else, it isn’t a pleasant experience.

One of the reasons we hate making mistakes is the fact that other people are keeping score. The bigger the mistake, the longer—and more vividly—it will be remembered. And the longer you’ll be reminded of it. Errors come with pain.

But as bad as errors feel, they serve a useful purpose: they inoculate you against future errors.

Inoculate Yourself

The pain of making the mistake leaves an indelible mark. The embarrassment of making a public mistake can be even more painful. You don’t need anyone to remind you of the mistake; your inner critic normally takes care of that for you. That pain is one of the reasons that when you make a mistake, you inoculate yourself against future harm.

Here is how you can make sure you inoculate yourself from future errors and learn from your mistakes.

What did you believe?: It isn’t enough to recognize an error. You need to why you made the mistake. What did you believe when you took the action that resulted in the error? What did you think would happen?

When I was really young, I made the mistake of reading (in excessively great detail) my presentation to my prospective clients. I believed they were interested in knowing everything about my company. They weren’t interested in knowing every detail, every feature, and every benefit.

Why was this an error?: What happened? Why did the action you take result in an error?

By reading the presentation to clients, I bored them to tears (and in one extreme case, I believe I caused an actual coma). By substituting marketing material for real business acumen (something I didn’t have) and situational knowledge (something I did have) I caused the prospective client to disengage.

What would you change?: If you could call for a do-over, what would you change? If you encounter a similar situation in the future, what will you do different next time? What facts will provide you with proof that what you did before will fail this time?

I stopped reading the presentation to my prospective clients. I learned to listen and pick out the two or three things I needed to provide proof on and point only to those few pages for reinforcement.

Experience is a wonderful (if sometimes brutal) teacher. One of the reasons that errors are so powerful at inoculating you against future mistakes is that they come with emotional pain. To inoculate yourself from errors, you have to learn from them and choose differently in the future.


What errors have you made lately? Were they public or private?

Did the error you made come with emotional pain or embarrassment?

What did you believe that caused you to make the mistake?

How will you identify situations in the future so that you don’t make the same again?

Sales 2013
Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 17, 2013

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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