I am talking about apologising in a business context where, either consciously or not, you say sorry to me when I want to buy your product or use your services.
Let me explain and give you a bit of context...
Last week I went to see a local business owner, near to where I live in London.
I had made an appointment to see the owner (at his request) to ask about using their services for three weeks. So I went along for a chat and to have a look around. After about 10-minutes we started talking about what services his business could offer me and naturally we got talking about prices and the cost of it all.
Now, I was ready to buy his services. I didn't need to go and meet with him either, I only did because he insisted I did. I was ready to commit to the sale because, in my mind, I had already made the decision to buy from this business. It was a done deal.
But then he started to say sorry...for everything.
First, he apologised for his prices (which were extremely competitive and lower than other local competitors).
He kept saying things like 'I'm sorry to say it will cost you £x' and 'sorry but it will be £x for that' and 'so sorry but that'll be £x'.
I had to keep telling him not to be sorry and that the prices were absolutely fine (which he kept laughing off as if he didn't believe me).
I wasn't there to haggle or negotiate on price because I was buying purely on value and service.
That was the first red flag for me - why would he apologise for his prices?
Is he not confident in delivering the expected service for the price he charges?
Second, he kept apologising for the way they do things in their business.
He kept saying things like 'I'm sorry but we do things in a certain way' and 'I'm sorry that we operate this particular policy'.
What he didn't realise was that it was actually because of those things and the way his business did things compared to their local competitors that I wanted to buy from them in the first place!
Again, I had to keep telling him not to apologise and that I actually liked his business and the way they did things, which was different to others.
Finally, he started apologising for things totally out of his control...like the weather and the fact that it was a windy day.
Now you might think that's quite sweet that he cares that much to a point where he takes responsibility for all these things, but actually as a buyer I had alarm bells ringing in my head because I kept asking myself why he apologised for everything so profusely?
Was it because the service wasn't actually as good as they promised?
Or maybe there was some underlying lack of confidence in his own product?
Suffice to say, I'll never did find out because by this point I had done a u-turn and decided not buy from this business anymore.
They lost the sale and any possibility of a recommendation from me in the future.
Moral of this story: do not say sorry for what you sell or apologise for charging what you charge, especially if it is competitive and you offer good value for money.
When you do, it screams out a lack of confidence in your own products and services and it WILL turn people off from buying from you.