A Rookie Mistake | Travel Research Online


A Rookie Mistake

A common mistake rookies and amateurs make when it comes to competitive sales is arriving at the “last straw.” I remember all too clearly when I first fell victim to this fatal error.

I was working for Maritz Motivation at the time. My division of this highly respected motivation company sold supportive meeting services. What we referred to as “deliverables” often sold for six digits (often over $300,000).

One of my target accounts was Ricoh Copiers, and I worked for months trying to schedule an introductory meeting with the key decision-maker. You name it… I tried it. Regardless of the time, day, month, weather, position of the stars or phase of the moon, the end result of my persistence was always the same… no meeting… no sale.

I remember becoming exasperated before reaching for a computer to draft my final salvo. I can’t remember my exact phrasing, but it must have sounded something like this.



Dear Mr. Ingles,

I have been trying to arrange an introductory meeting with you for nearly nine months. I understand that you may be completely satisfied with the meeting support you are receiving from your current supplier. I would like to think, however, that with so much money at stake you would like to become familiar with all of your options before making a buying decision. Isn’t learning about the competition something you might want to investigate?


I probably added a few more sentences, but by this time the damage had been done. I soon received his response to my letter.


Dear Mr. Marchev.

You are absolutely correct. It is always in my best interest to learn everything I can from suppliers whom I might have an interest in. You are just not one of them.


Click Here!


This letter stung back then, and it continues to sting nearly 30 years later. I allowed my personal frustration to dictate my professional communications. This is bad. This is very bad. This is incredibly bad.

For nearly two years following this written “smack-down,” I found myself literally dodging this man at trade shows and conferences. I would turn around in the hall if I saw him approaching. I would hide to avoid making contact. I was acting like a wounded child out of sheer embarrassment. Then one day I said, “Enough is enough.” I wrote a letter of apology for my less-than-professional behavior two years earlier.

Much to my surprise, amazement, and mental health, he returned my letter with one of his own. In short, he wrote, “Perhaps I too was wrong. Let’s start over.”

Lesson Learned

Do not allow your personal feelings or frustrations to get in the way of you taking the high road. Time has a way of leveling the playing field. Never panic. Never overreact. Stay calm. Stay cool. Stay collected. And never be too self-absorbed to offer an apology when you are in the wrong.

Life resembles a sine wave. What goes down will eventually go up, and vice versa. Never allow your personal frustrations to come between you and your goal.


A headshot of the author, Mike Marchev

Mike Marchev is always looking for a few more proactive travel professionals to join his Sales and Marketing Club. mike@mikemarchev.com.

*** You want more to think about? Check out my weekly podcast (Mike’d Up Marchev). Also listed on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google, and iHeartRadio.

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