Sales consultant Tom Searcy says that when he realized he wasn't delivering as promised for one unhappy client, he didn't try to shift blame or cover up the problem. Instead, he arranged a meeting with the client, handing him a check at the outset for all the consulting fees received thus far. "Taking the money out of the equation changed the conversation entirely," Searcy says. In the productive meeting that followed, the two agreed to continue working together, and the client returned the check. "[I]f he had had to fight me for the money, we would not have worked through issues and re-engaged," Searcy says.

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