Historical injustice is a past moral wrong committed by previously living people that has a lasting impact on the well-being of the current generation.
Kenyans are familiar with the term in relation to land issues. I was, therefore, amused when I heard it used — quite aptly — about past mistakes other sellers have committed, and now another one finds they impede sales activities.
‘Historical injustices’ are a reality the seller must take in his/her stride. They come with the territory. Lamenting over them as an excuse not to sell is limiting yourself.
Admittedly, it is easy to do so when you are at the receiving end of one. This is because the ‘injustice’ is usually unleashed as a curveball and in a curt manner by the aggrieved person.
“You! You from Bank Inc. You are all liars! I have told everyone here not to buy from your bank.”
All this is shouted in an open-plan office, at the hapless seller. All 17 prospects hear it. And worse, it is from their supervisor. His authority energises the accusation.
Just like that, the seller’s upbeat mood and dream plan for the day are stopped cold, drowned in a tsunami of negative energy.
Forget that he is clueless about the supervisor’s accusation. Any version of, “It wasn’t me” will only rile the supervisor more.
Recovering quickly, the progressive seller owns the accusation and apologetically says: “I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience with us. Please tell me what happened.” It turns out that four months before, his colleague told the supervisor he qualifies for a loan in three months but when he applied he was told, no, it’s after six months.
The seller knows that this ‘historical injustice’ must be conclusively addressed if any meaningful progress is to be made.
Retreating to another market with your tail between your legs just defers your building capacity to handle historical injustices and makes you irresponsible.
There is no pure air in selling.
It all has pockets of pollution. Caused by you or another, deliberately or not, it does not matter. Your retreating weakens you as a seller and strengthens the prospect’s belief (and the 17 other staff) that, “You are all liars!”
So, the seller says: “Again, I’m sorry to hear that and I will address it with (the offender he mentioned). It is true it’s after six months and thank you for not closing your account. If it is okay with you, may I see your last six months statements? I’d like to assess your chances of getting a loan when you re-apply.”
The seller peruses them and says: “I can’t guarantee it but your chances are good. Here’s why.” He shows him. “I will personally handle your loan application then. In the meantime, is it okay if you introduce me to your staff that I may share with them what we have?”
It is very unlikely would decline.