Episode OneHundredTwo

How Failure Can Lead to Successful Relationship Management

Guest: Pete Prowitt, Head of Relationship Manager Teams of North America at Intercom

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About This Episode

What’s your biggest fear?




Turns out, even the most successful people have faced failure myriads of times. Failure is the one thing you can almost always count on happening before you reach your desired result.

Kind of comforting, right?

We sit down to discuss the power of failure with Pete Prowitt, the head of Relationship Manager Teams of North America at Intercom.

He gives us a look into how he and his team at Intercom use failure as fuel for success.

Addressing the stigma around failure

Pete recognizes that failure is a fear for most people in our society. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, none of us want to appear as though we failed in our endeavors. This fear keeps many people from seeking out their true potential.

As a culture, Pete suggests we start to look at failure as just a part of life. All of us experience it at one point or another. Why stigmatize it?

When you incur failure, don’t get hung up on the result. Instead, analyze the process you used. What aspects can be used to inform your future decision-making or actions?

Even leaders fail sometimes

It can be difficult to look at successful CEOs like Jeff Bezos or Tim Cook and imagine the failures they’ve encountered on their journeys. Everything must’ve gone 100% right for them to be where they’re at today.


In Bezos’ most recent letter to shareholders, he actually encourages scaling the company’s failures along with its growth. He recognizes that failing is a part of life, and therefore, business.

The point in which leaders succeed is the pivot. In other words, identifying where their decision-making and actions can change to support the desired result.

Another option would be to change the end goal entirely (if that’s what data suggests). Amazon started production on the Fire phone and Echo around the same time. After seeing the Fire phone burn up, Bezos and the gang put more resources into the creation and improvement of the successful Echo.

Failure is prevalent everywhere. What matters is how you use the information collected in the process.

Failure fosters empathy

A crucial characteristic of Pete’s relationship management style is empathy. Fortunately, it’s easier to relate to potential clients after encountering failure and learning from it.

Pete offers some key ideas to keep in mind when reaching out to sales leads:

  • If you were the lead, why would you agree to talk with us?
  • Does this conversation coincide with an event or milestone within their company?
  • What will the lead gain from a call with us?
  • Does this call make sense on a human level?

If he hadn’t learned from his failures, it would be more difficult for Pete to understand other companies’ challenges. 

Delivering real value

In order to acquire and maintain customer relationships, it’s essential to provide true value. Understanding the points of a process that failed allows you to offer valuable tips for success to your lead or customer.

Oftentimes, these tips can be delivered in the form of content. Forms of content you can use include:

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Social media posts
  • Whitepapers

Leading off your customer engagement process with collateral they find helpful will incentivize them to reach out to you. Pete makes sure to note the communication channel and voice you’re using to deliver content. Is it what the lead or customer prefers?

Stop fearing failure

If Pete would have given in to his fear of failure, we would have never known who he is.

Now, in his role as the head of Relationship Manager Teams, Pete is using his failures to foster success every single day; success for his customers and himself.

Failure is a part of life and business for everyone. Time to stop avoiding it.


About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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