I got a rejection email the other day stating that I lost a $50,000 deal to the competition. As you can imagine, it hurt badly! Especially because it was still a little early in the process and I didn’t feel that I got a fair chance to prove my competitive value.
It’s amazing to me that after over a decade in sales, it still hurts – you’d think I’m used to it by now! But the truth is that as bad as it feels, I’ve learned to move on very quickly. It takes me about 15 minutes, and I’m over it. I’ve developed very thick skin. I do get emotional for a few minutes – after all, I’m still human… I invested a lot of time and energy into this prospect, but once it’s lost, I immediately shift my mind to focus on the future by looking at the options in front of me. Is there anything I can do to salvage the situation? A conversation I can have? A meeting I can schedule? If so, I focus on the solution, not the pain.
But if there is nothing I can do, I don’t dwell on it for too long; it’s pointless, and painful for no reason. I move on – “SW”: Some Will, Some Won’t, So What… Next!
Here are 5 things you can do once you lose a sale and there is nothing you can do about it:
1. Focus on “getting over it” quickly and stay positive – and stop sharing the story with the world!
Here’s why: You don’t want to bring that energy to your next conversation with a prospect. The past does not dictate the future! Plus, every time you tell the story, you get to experience it over and over again! Isn’t experiencing it once enough? If you must, you can share it with ONE person – your manager, your spouse, just to get it out of your system. But just one!
Stay positive – you can mourn the lost sale for 5-10 minutes, but then stop, shake it off, and don’t even think about it. You are now closer to your next deal…
2. Learn some clear lessons for the future.
Do not ‘guilt’ yourself by saying “I should’ve…. I could’ve….” – As Tony Robbins says, “we tend to ’should’ all over ourselves”… Instead, use those creative thoughts to figure out what 2-3 specific lessons can you take away from the situation.
In my specific example:
Lesson 1: It turned out I did not build the relationship with the right person – the final decision maker (I thought I did). So next time I will make it a point to ask the necessary questions to better understand the decision making process.
Lesson 2: I will be careful not to provide too much information before getting the complete requirements from the customer. In this case, I provided too much pricing information a bit too early in the process – before getting the full project information I needed from the customer – and it hurt me. I had assumed the information will follow but it never did.
3. Remember: 20% of customers will never buy no matter what you say or do.
It doesn’t mean that my prospect was in that 20% category only because they didn’t sign the dotted line. But after the fact, you might as well attribute that reason to the loss, so you don’t question and doubt yourself and your abilities. For all I know, maybe I was competing with his brother-in-law and he had no intention of evaluating my proposal seriously…
4. Determine the correct next steps to maintain and improve the relationship after the fact.
Don’t just give up on them forever, but continue adding value – stay in touch. Many customers will come back to you when they realize you really are the best solution, but you’ve got to be there for them when they have that epiphany , and it may take some time… So swallow your pride and treat them as you would treat any other hot prospect.
5. Understand that there is an abundance of business out there for you.
Don’t dwell on the past but continue playing the game! If you operate from a place of abundance you will see the evidence everywhere. But the same is true for the opposite – if you think there is a lot of competition and a limited amount of customers, then that will be your experience and your bottom line results will show it.
6. Be grateful for the loss.
You need to lose from time to time to appreciate the wins. Even though I expect to close each deal and win the customer every time, I also understand as a professional that losing SOME deals overtime, is part of succeeding, part of the process of being a sales professional – and there is a lot of value in losing if you look for it and realize it.
7. Stick to the facts. Don’t make up a story about yourself, your company, or product or service.
The fact that you didn’t close a deal means NOTHING about you or what you are selling. In my Landmark Education course “The Landmark Forum”, I’ve learned that as humans we tend to make up meanings and stories about what happens to us in life. We create a full elaborate, even ridiculous stories about simple facts. Here’s what it looks like – Fact: you did not close the deal. Story: I didn’t close the deal because I’m not a good sales person, or because I did a poor job, or because my product is inferior”… “if only my manager did this or that…”, etc, etc, etc. Don’t make up stories about yourself – stick to the facts.
What are some great lessons and tips you have on handling losing a sale like a champion?