You Must Own The Deals You Lose

The sales profession is a cruel teacher. You learn quickly that when you take short cuts, make assumptions, and stray from the basics and fundamentals— you get burned.

A Letter From Your Sales Manager

Dear Sales Professional,

I am writing this long after you came to me to discuss your most recent lost deal. The pain on your face and the crack in your voice was too much for me. I held back and wasn’t as direct, straight forward, or truthful as you needed me to be about why you lost this deal.

I want you to understand that I agonize when you are in pain. It’s because I have been in your shoes and made the same mistakes. The sales profession is a cruel teacher and I writhe and twist in a wretched dance of empathy because you, like so many before you, are cursed to learn these lessons the hard way.

That’s why I couldn’t hit you with this real truth today doing our one on one. I didn’t have the heart.

You felt that you did good work on the proposal. The prospect asked you to show them your best price and value. You worked with our internal team and got sign-offs on the package you proposed. You met with all of the the prospect’s key stakeholders and thought that you conducted good discovery. The buying signs were there and they gave you every indication that the account was yours. You put it on the forecast and guaranteed our leadership team that you would close it.

Instead, you lost the deal to a competitor that you didn’t even know was there. Six months invested in this deal and all you have to show is the egg that’s all over your face. I know it hurts, and I know it’s heavy.

You Did Not Do Your Job

But, you must know the truth and the truth is that the reason why we did not get bought is because you did not persuade the stakeholders with your business case. Your discovery was weak, and so were your relationships. You took things for granted and allowed confirmation bias to cloud your objectivity. You skipped steps in the sales process. This is why you got blindsided.

You did not do your job.

This is why you failed.

Do you want to be angry with me now that it’s out there? Do you want to object? Let’s review what the stakeholders said:

  1. They really liked you and our company.
  2. Price was not the issue. We were competitive.
  3. BUT, the stakeholders felt that your competitor’s solutions aligned better with their desired outcomes.

Go Look In The Mirror. You Own This.

The conclusion is unavoidable. The person most responsible for losing this deal is YOU. And, YOU just got beat by a competitor who did not make the same dumb mistakes.

I know it is embarrassing, but enough with the excuses. Go look in the mirror. You own this.

I’m not telling you this to be mean. I surely don’t want to add to your strife. But, I think if you know this fact and can face it, then you’ll adjust your approach next time, follow the sales process, ask better questions, build deeper relationships, and really listen.

The sales profession is a cruel teacher. You learn quickly that when you take short cuts, make assumptions, and stray from the basics and fundamentals that you get burned.

I’m sorry you lost the business and I hope you’ll take this lesson to hear and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

With great admiration,

Your Sales Manager

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About the author

Tim Rohrer

After a 20-year career in broadcast sales, Tim J.M. Rohrer wrote a book, Sales Lessons…

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