Coming in 2nd Place: You Either Win or You Learn

It all started last fall when the team from my original hometown, the Philadelphia Phillies, lost the World Series to the Houston Astros.

Then, in November, the Brown University Women’s Volleyball team lost the Ivy League Championship to Yale. My daughter plays for Brown. Ouch.

Follow that with the Super Bowl in February where my Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and just two short months later, my beloved San Diego State Aztecs went down to the University of Connecticut in the NCAA Men’s Championship. It was starting to feel personal…..

In sales, a loss is a loss — even if you’re the runner-up. After all, we only get paid when we win. And when we do not, we often hear buyers attempt to let us down softly with vague explanations such as “your product didn’t have this bell or whistle,” or, our favorite “you were just too expensive.”

But in sales, as in sports, what happens next is important. Do we take the time to learn why we lost? As we were developing that opportunity, where did things start to go awry?

We’re proud to say that the sellers we work with do. They have such a clearly articulated and aligned selling process that they can tell exactly where in the buying cycle something got missed. Maybe the buyers went quiet or skipped an agreed-upon next step?

One of the most important jobs Flannery Sales Systems does for our customers is to help them refine their sales process to ensure it is strategically aligned with the buying cycle. Doing this drastically increases their probability of success.

Want to minimize your chances of ending up in the dreaded runner-up position? Make sure the following checkpoints are an integral part of your sales process:

  • Do we have all key players identified?
  • Have we had targeted conversations with all key players BEFORE sending a quote or proposal?
  • Can all key players articulate our core value proposition?
  • Have we been able to build an implementation plan before the proposal is delivered?

Most of our customers’ selling situations are similar (despite the dire need some have of telling us “this one is UNIQUE”). Coaching them to use a sales process not only helps them understand how to win, but also has the added benefit of helping them identify where things go wrong. It is never pleasant to lose, but when it happens, we will take the time to learn from it as we set our sights on our next big win.