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Dealing with a Bad Reputation

Updated on April 10, 2017
Stephen Meadows profile image

Stephen is an accomplished networking guru and published author on the subject. If there is one thing he does well, it's network!

Any sales organization that has been in existence for more than a year has probably had time to get bad reviews. Reputation management is vital for any company. Furthermore, your company's reputation can have a direct impact on your personal sales and networking interactions. Whether you are brand new to the industry or a seasoned veteran, you should know some basic rules to begin to overcome objections caused by a bad reputation.

1. Apologize

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Saying you are sorry doesn’t necessarily mean you're at fault. Don’t be afraid to say it. Thankfully for me, most of the complaints I hear are from people outside my territory or comments about one of my predecessors. I rarely have to apologize for anything I actually did. You don’t have to grovel. Simply saying, “I am sorry to hear you had a bad experience. What could have been done to make it better?” can make a world of difference. You have established that you care not only about your company’s reputation, but also the other person’s opinion.

2. Time is on Your Side

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This may come as a shock to some of you, but PEOPLE HOLD GRUDGES! I can tell you are surprised by that statement. It’s the truth. The grudge holders can be difficult to reason with. However, they equip you with a unique angle, deflection. By deflection, I mean that you can partially invalidate their complaint by saying something like: “We have changed our policies” or “That’s the way things used to be done.” Most of the time, these situations happened YEARS ago. Use the time passage to your advantage. You can blame old leadership, bad management, a poorly performing predecessor, etc… Any of these “excuses” can effectively deflect their anger away from you and clear the way to charm them. I take a grudge holder as a personal challenge to win back. One caveat—if they try your service again, you better DAZZLE them. If you don’t, you’ll never win them back!

3. Ask for Input

People love to feel like their opinion matters. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I don’t use your company anymore.” The first thing I want to do is know WHY! I don’t just flat out ask. I usually say, “Oh, would you mind sharing an experience you had that lead to your decision?” Sometimes, it has nothing to do with the reputation. However, I have found that at least 75% of the time it has something to do with it. Simply asking them for their opinion will soften them up and open the door for a reasoned discussion about what the company can do better and how their experience could differ on future encounters.

4. Make a Distinction between YOUR Reputation and the Company’s

This method can be much easier if you are only affiliated with a company and not employed. However, it can be used in either case. If you are a REALTOR, for instance, it is easy to separate your personal service from that of your company. I find it vitally important to make sure that my detractors know that MY service sets me apart from my company. There are times when their complaint is with customer service and not necessarily with the policies and practices of the company. I gained one of my top agents after she said a few choice words about a customer service experience. At the end of our conversation she said, “If you can promise me I won’t have to deal with the customer service people again, you can have all my business.” I was able to separate my reputation from that of my company and she recognized that I was worth a try.

5. Ask (Beg) for a Second Chance

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If you are waiting for someone to offer you the chance to try again for their business, you could be waiting a VERY long time. When all is said and done, people like being courted. They WANT you ask. Well, they actually want you to beg. I don’t go that far. But there is nothing wrong with requesting a chance to change their mind. Even if they only agree on a small scale trial run, all you need is a foot in the door. If you don’t even ring the doorbell, how will anyone know to let you in?

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    • threekeys profile image

      ThreeKeys 12 days ago from Australia

      Thankyou for your article. Wholesome read. What would you say to do to rebuild your character/reputation when someone has is and has destroyed it through hate slander to family, friends and employers? You have done nothing to warrant this unprovoked attack. How can you survive it and rebuild when the person holds an authouratative position? This person has built up their reputation but now uses their "honest reputation" to undermine and destroy other people's reputation and life.

    • Stephen Meadows profile image
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      Stephen Meadows 12 days ago from San Antonio, TX

      That's a tough situation. Is this person a customer or a boss figure? If it's a customer, I'd say you don't need the business that badly! If it's a boss... personally, I would look for another means of employment. It sounds like that person is targeting you for some reason. Here are a few suggestions I can think of, but honestly, I have not had much exposure to this situation.

      1. Build allies - find people who can support your side of events and know your character.

      2. Win over hearts and minds through action - prove to others that you are NOT what you appear to be.

      3. Appeal to their self-interest - approach the attacker with a sort of "cease-fire." Find some way that you can be useful to them and offer a truce. If nothing else, it may stop the attacks.

      Not sure if any of that helps, but it may.

    • threekeys profile image

      ThreeKeys 12 days ago from Australia

      Hi Stephen. Some of your points I hadn't thought of or thought of things in that way. I am going to try your ways. I have just been turning the other cheek but I feel this has been unhelpful. Your ways are proactive. Cheers Stephen. All the very best!

    • Stephen Meadows profile image
      Author

      Stephen Meadows 12 days ago from San Antonio, TX

      Good luck!!

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