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You Lost Another Deal? Learn From It.

Okay, so you lost another deal.  So what?  It happens.  There’s not a salesperson in the world that hasn’t lost a deal and, if you stay in sales, I guarantee you will lose another eventually.  It’s part of being in sales so, while you may never get used to it, you should at least expect it.  However, you can minimize the possibility of losing a sale again by performing post-opportunity analysis.

Not unlike a football game where the quarterback takes the fall for the entire team, the salesperson is also on the front line of blame in the event the deal was not made.  However, a sale doesn’t stand alone on the shoulders of the salesperson.  The entire company is involved; from upper management to sales and marketing to distribution.  The final step in the sales process should always be a wrap-up meeting with the department heads and everyone within the departments that had a major role in the development of the refused offer.

This meeting will provide a level of accountability that highlights which step went wrong.  If it was the fault of the salesperson for not having vetted the opportunity correctly, so be it.  Perhaps upper management did not provide the required support to win.  Was distribution at fault for not having had the merchandise available in time?

This is not meant to be another version of the Blame Game.  Regardless of the reason why the deal was not won, this is a fantastic opportunity to shed light on the issue that made the prospect hesitate to do business with your firm.  You now have a chance to address the problem, fix it and keep it from happening again.  Sometimes, though, you’ll find no one did anything wrong and every department worked to the best of their abilities.  In these instances you can only shrug and move on.

Here’s another point I have always been an advocate of.  Never do anything as a manager that will later be seen as a negative reinforcement by your team.  For instance, if you hold post-op assessments then make sure you gather your team for wins as well as for losses.  It is as vital for your staff to know what they did right as well as it is for them to know what needs to be improved upon.  If they don’t see the big picture and know what was correctly done, then there is a strong possibility it won’t be repeated for future deals.

Another reason why I advocate post-op analysis is it will give you a good indication of which employees work well together and which ones don’t.  The workplace is a very fluid environment and you should also be alert to ever-changing relationships that will add to or detract from the company’s culture.  Stay on top of it.

Look, I understand when you lose a deal the last thing you want to do is to discuss it.  I’ve been there and I just wanted to get out of the office and not talk to anyone.  It’s painful and it’s easier to file it away and forget about it.  It’s the pain, though, that should be your motivation to have a post-opportunity analysis.  You should want to do everything you can to minimize your losses in the future.

  1. May 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm

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    • May 18, 2012 at 10:44 am

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