Every now and again, we tend to misspeak. When it happens on the world stage, the effect can be disastrous. It can also be disastrous to the sales process as well.
Take, for example, something that happened to me about a year and a half ago. I had worked very hard to win a completely new client away from one of our largest competitors. I knew going into the sales process that, if we won the sale, we would have a very short window of time to get the project going. The client had set an aggressive timeline and the dates were non-negotiable. In other words, my organization had to perform – and do it quickly!
Within a month of winning the sale, I knew that we were in trouble. My lead project manager had missed their initial milestones putting my software development team behind the eight-ball. Pretty soon, I began receiving calls from the client asking me to resolve problems caused by my own teammates. To make matters worse, a personality clash developed between my project manager and the client’s lead staff member. Communication quickly broke down and everything became a fire drill of the first magnitude. Critical dates were now being missed by a mile and we had to do something to save the project and the client relationship.
I decided to get all of the project stakeholders together by WebEx so that we could get the project back on track and get agreement from everyone on the action plan. To facilitate the WebEx meeting, I decided to share my screen with all the participants so that we could all see the data, results, etc. It didn’t take long before the two people who didn’t get along began blaming each other for the project’s lack of progress. The conversation got heated and was escalating out of control.
About that time my mobile phone started ringing. It was one of my direct reports who I really needed to talk to but couldn’t due to the situation unfolding via WebEx. I immediately opened my e-mail up and began typing a message to the person who called telling them that my client was extremely upset, this wasn’t a good time to talk and that the client’s staff member was being totally unreasonable. If memory serves, I may also have written that the project was now a disaster.
I had forgotten that I was sharing my screen with everyone on the WebEx call.
All of the technology at our disposal is fantastic. We can communicate with just about anyone, anywhere and at anytime. It can help us close sales, do demonstrations, keep in touch, keep projects on track and many more great things. It can also get us into trouble pretty quickly as well.
The next time you run a meeting using WebEx, or other conferencing service, remember to STOP SHARING your screen when you need to send an e-mail!
(For those of you interested: My client forgave me but my project team continued to miss almost every milestone. Within a year, we lost the client. Ironically, I made a wonderful friend of the client’s decision maker through this experience. But I still don’t recommend doing what I did!)