Our goals, as sales guys, is getting the deal done. So, when that doesn’t happen, we often find ourselves at a loss. What should we do when we lose a deal? While there may not be definitive answers, I’d like to share some of my personal thoughts and experiences here.
Truth be told, I tend to invest my heart and soul into too many of my opportunities. As a result of this, I take losing deals personally. One particularly heart-aching moment is easy to recall. We were pitching a really big deal at a Fortune 500 company in the Baltimore area that seemed to be going really well. We had great alignment on product fit, and even though it was a large amount of money for us, the budget was very acceptable to the prospect.
What we didn’t really do a great job on was the timing needs required by this prospect. Sure, our solution was potentially going to save them a lot of money, but it had to fit into their corporate schedule of initiatives. That aspect of the deal made the process go slower than we would have liked. Yet, even though the deal dragged out, we got buying sign after buying sign. I was enthusiastic!
However, at the same time – and unbeknownst to us – our big competitor (who was more than 1,000 times bigger than us) was working on a similar deal at a different division of this company. Once the timing became appropriate for the prospect to move forward, they combined the two initiatives and we were crushed by the long-standing relationship that the prospect had with our competitor. It’s true, who you know often trumps what you know (or in this case, the deal in which you’ve passionately invested your time).
Even though we were very disappointed (and that’s definitely an understatement), we worked hard to maintain a great professional relationship with the buyers. When the deal falls flat, you can’t just walk away. Another chance might be around the bend. So, here are some of the things we did:
- We didn’t bad-mouth the competition. In fact, we told them that the company they chose over us was a good company, because it was true. Their solution wasn’t better than ours, but it was certainly workable. This built credibility in their eyes.
- We educated them on key challenges that they would be facing with any supplier, including us, during the process. We didn’t want them going into this deal blind, even if they weren’t working with us.
- We continued to include them in our prospecting and marketing efforts to remind them that we were an alternative solution. Basically, we didn’t let them go and we didn’t let them forget our existence and previous hard work on their behalf.
They were left with the impression that we had high integrity and were a professional firm. If nothing else, they could at least speak positively about us as well!
Wouldn’t you know it, over the next year, we received three referrals that turned into opportunities that this firm passed along to us. They thought highly enough about our efforts that they continued to advocate for us.
It took about two years, but after a change in strategy, we were invited back to pitch for a new opportunity at this firm. After having spent six months selling to them before, and the time after that staying in touch, we were the obvious solution. We won a very significant deal!
Wrapping it Up
Sure it hurts, in a lot of ways, when a deal falls through. However, that’s not a good reason to pack in the bag with the potential firm. In fact, as we learned here, a continued pursuit and reminder of our existence was what it took to eventually land a very nice deal with them.
Ultimately, the advice I want to leave you with, is that perseverance will always pay off. Even if we hadn’t gained the deal with them in the end, we did garner three additional opportunities through that tenacity. Keep your name in their view, keep your integrity and eventually, if you’re good at what you do, you’ll get the deal done!
Photo courtesy of Unsplash user Joshua Earle.