Sales Fails: "I booked a flight to meet a prospect. I missed the meeting because of a delay"

Each week, we bring you the most cringe-worthy sales moments from across the web. To submit your sales fail story for consideration, click here. (Don't worry, you'll remain completely anonymous).

I sell enterprise infrastructure technology, so we typically have pretty long sales cycles with large deal sizes. One deal can make my entire year. 

I was in contact with an exec at a Fortune 500 company trying to get an in-person meeting. I was emailing him for months offering to fly out to him (I live in New York and he lived in Florida) and take him out to dinner anywhere he wanted so I could start to build a relationship and give him the pitch for our product.

Finally, he agreed and told me he was available for dinner Monday night of the following week. He gave me the name of the (Michelin star) restaurant he wanted to go to. I told my sales manager, who gave me the okay to expense the flight and the dinner and I booked it.

The day came, I sent a confirmation first thing in the morning. He replied, and everything was good. I got to the airport two hours before the flight. An hour before takeoff they said the flight was delayed by 30 minutes. Well... you can imagine how it went from here. 

The delays kept rolling in, and the flight ended up being delayed over 3 hours. I immediately called the guy when I realized I wouldn't make it in time, telling him the flight was delayed and apologizing profusely. I asked if we could do dinner the following night instead. He coldly replied "That won’t work for me," and got off the phone. I never got another response from him again

Anonymous      New York, NY  

This happened to me last fall. I sell kitchen remodels so I was at a prospect's house looking at their current setup and talking to them about what they wanted done. We were discussing options together, we had good rapport, the guy seemed to know what he wanted - basically everything was going great.  At one point I remember sneezing, the seasons were changing so my allergies were acting up, and the guy kind of glared at me with a look of disgust. I didn't really think much of it at the time.

So that night I sent over a follow up email with a quote. The guy didn't answer for a couple days, I figured he must be busy. I called him up on the fourth day of not hearing from him and he answered the phone. His voice sounded different, he clearly sounded sick (and annoyed). He proceeded to tell me that he was really sick "on his deathbed" and that he didn't appreciate me coming into his home while I was sick and spreading my germs all around. I tried to convince him that I wasn't sick and it was just my allergies but he wouldn't have it. He angrily hung up and I lost the deal.

Anonymous      Location withheld   

This I was interviewing for a new SDR role at a tech company. I made it past the first round of interviews and went to the company offices for an in-person interview with the sales manager.


The interview went well, and afterwards he took me on a tour around the office and to the sales floor. There was this big gong on the sales floor, and the manager told me to go ahead and give it a ring. So I went up to it and gave it a loud smack. The entire sales team stopped what they were doing and stared at me. The room got so quiet you could hear a pin drop and I realized I was getting weird looks.


I glanced at the sales manager and he was smirking, I realized he was messing with me, maybe to see how I handled the situation. It was extremely awkward. He looked over at me with the same smirk and said "we take the gong very seriously here."


Anyway, I ended up getting the job and got to ring the gong for real a few weeks later. Every time a new potential hire came to the office the sales manager would do the same trick, and I always made sure to play along and give the sucker who rang the gong a dirty look.


Anonymous      Location withheld 

You might also like

Everything sales, straight to your inbox.

Sign up for The Quota, a fun, free weekly newsletter for salespeople and sales leaders -- from the people who brought you Sales Humor.

Thanks for subscribing! Just one more step!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.