“Sorry” Doesn’t Close Business


I recently walked into a pet supply store and asked the girl who was working if they had any small bags of Now brand dog food for adults.

She looked at me like I was asking for something foreign to their establishment. It was the kind of look that said I was crazy to be asking for dog food in a store with rows and rows of dog food lined up.

She walked over to where the product is kept on the shelf, gave a quick look and said, “No, this is all we have but we have an order coming in tomorrow.”

I asked if they were expecting more of that particular brand in the small bag to be in the order tomorrow.

She told me she didn’t know, and then said, “sorry” and walked away.

That’s it, job done. Another problem customer dealt with.

Definitely not an experience that would have you rushing back to check and see if they have the product you need in the future, right?

Here are four basic things she could have done instead to “close the deal” even thought they didn’t have what I needed at that time:

  1. Try and sell me the larger bag of the same food that they had in stock
  2. Try and offer a different product that I might use instead
  3. Offer to call me the next day when the order arrives and let me know if they received my product
  4. Offer to contact another one of their stores

Instead, she just said, “sorry” and completely missed the opportunity to engage with me and make a positive impression.

Sorry does not make a sale. You have to keep a customer happy to grow your business. <—Click to Tweet

Unfortunately, many people are not taught how to sell, serve, or help a customer when the answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

Judgement and basic problem solving skills have gone out the window and, along with them, initiative has disappeared.

If you want to grow your business, make sure you look at how your team solves problems like when someone wants to buy and you don’t have what they want immediately available. These interactions can mean just as much if not more than those with customers who walk in (or click on your site) buy what they want, and leave.

Making sure to always interact with the customer in a professional and helpful way is a necessary sales skill whether you are selling social media services, recruitment, sales, or dog food.

For the record, Pet Valu will keep me as a customer because the girls who work in the other store I go to have exceptional customer service and always solve problems.

Unfortunately, not everyone will have a secondary experience to compare to when things go wrong so it’s imperative that you make sure every client interaction is the best it can be whether it results in an immediate sale or not.

Want more sales training to help you grow your business? Check out The Sales Pilot —> www.lisalarter.com/salespilot


2 thoughts on ““Sorry” Doesn’t Close Business”

  1. You’re right, she should have done all of the above: steps 1 through 4.

    And let me add two more…

    0. Find out about what’s coming in tomorrow. It’s not THAT hard. It’s already on a truck, so somewhere somebody knows what’s coming. They might even have a practice of keeping a stash of samples to tide customers and their furry ones over until the next day when scenarios like this arise.

    5. Let’s just say you really wanted the SMALL bag of THAT food on the SAME day at HER location, and despite her efforts, she really wasn’t able to help you, the store could have provided a coupon you can use next time. At least that way you’ll give them another chance and feel like they provided you some value.


  2. Oh, those are great additions, Christian! Great article, Lisa!
    I secretly love these scenarios where service providers under deliver because it means so much more to my customers when I go the extra mile for them. They really are so grateful. Sometimes it’s means being brave and turning a complaint around and really showing your clients that you care about them and want the best experience possible for them.

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Lisa Larter

Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.

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