Bad Guys - How We Lost This Deal

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 13:02 PM

lost-the-deal

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Lost deals, as well as sales calls and sales meetings that go south, make up a huge portion of our coaching calls with clients and their salespeople.  After all, everyone can learn a lot more from what went wrong than they can from what went right.  We also coach clients and their salespeople on how to win the deals that are currently in the later stages of their pipelines.  They tend to be overly optimistic, so for a dose of reality, we always ask about what could possibly go wrong.  They rarely know what could go wrong, so we help them out and introduce them to a long list of possibilities.

Today, Murphy's Law made a rare appearance at our company.  My favorite law from Murphy is, "Beauty is only skin deep. Ugly goes straight to the bone." Unfortunately, that wasn't the law that appeared.  Of course, it was, "If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong."  Here's what happened...Last week, we received a verbal go ahead from the CEO of a company and a formal agreement was to be signed today.  There didn't seem to be anything that could derail this deal and in addition, they had tremendous urgency to get started.  They knew they needed help and in my opinion, things were even worse than what they thought.

Last week, they were very excited about what we could do to help and couldn't wait to get started.  We were talking with both the Chairman and the CEO, so we couldn't have gone any higher in the company.  We are uniquely qualified to provide the very specific help that they required in both the short and long term and there was terrific alignment on both sides of the table.

Blindsided

Today, we learned that they were going with another company due to the relationships that two of their outside investors had with the competitor.

Wait a minute...what outside investors?  Isn't the chairman the outside investor?

How did we miss that?  

In an action adventure novel, there is never only one bad guy trying to kill the hero; there are always at least two!  And the mastermind never sends just one team of bad guys, he always sends a backup team just in case his first team fails.  

Remember this!!  It doesn't matter whether we are talking about bad guys or outside investors.  There are always at least two!!

It turns out that there are more than two more outside investors.  Would knowing that last week have changed anything?  Maybe.  We could have asked if the outside investors would have input.  We could have asked to include them in the conversation.  We could have asked if they knew anybody in our business.  We could have asked what would happen if they wanted to work with someone they had personal experience with.  We could have sold them on working with us.  We could have done more than we did.

The Lesson

In professional sales, there is a qualified opportunity and then there is thoroughly qualified opportunity.  On the opportunity in question, we substituted qualified for thoroughly qualified.  It does not help to know that our version of qualified is still at least 10 times more qualified than what the typical salesperson calls qualified.  Does-not-matter-one-bit.  If you miss something, whether or not you should have known about it, you still missed it.  If something catches you by surprise after the fact, you still missed it.  If a new competitor, a new stakeholder, a new issue, a new budget, or even a new time line comes up at the 12th hour, you still missed it.

It's our job to know everything.  We failed because we didn't do our job.

There is yet another way to lose a deal and that's by losing control of your emotions.  Read this article on the Hubspot Blog for more.

Join me for one of the following free presentations coming up in the next couple of weeks:

February 19 at Noon Eastern: How to Hire Your Next Salesperson presented by TAB.

February 26 at 11 AM Eastern: The Magic Behind OMG's Legendary Sales Candidate Assessments presented by Objective Management Group

March 5 at 9 AM Eastern: The Power of Sales Process and Pipeline Management/CRM presented by Membrain and Kurlan & Associates

Finally, the latest issue of Top Sales World Magazine is available today.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, sales qualification, reaching decision makers, lost sale, lost deal, outside investors

With Blown Call, Jim Joyce Succeeds at a Sales Core Competency

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 03, 2010 @ 15:06 PM

Jim Joyce and Armando GalarragaIf you're a baseball fan, you've probably heard all about Jim Joyce's horrendous call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.  It would have been just the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history.  The worst part about this baseball tragedy was that the perfect game was a sure thing!  There were two outs in the ninth inning when Galarraga induced a ground ball to first and everyone in the park and watching on television knew that would represent the final out of a perfect game.  And that's when Joyce became the  focus of the game by calling the runner, Jason Donald, safe.

The certain perfect game is just like the sure things that your salespeople report. "We're gonna get this business - it's a slam dunk."  Or, "Everything has been agreed to - just waiting for final approval."  Or, "We're the only ones they're talking to - it's ours for the taking!"  And then...it isn't.

What hasn't been talked about quite as much is what Jim Joyce did after the game.  In the rarest of all events, he apologized.  Are you kidding?  Umpires never admit they made a bad call or got a call wrong.  But Joyce said, "It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [stuff] out of it, I just cost that kid a perfect game."  Wow.

How many of your salespeople take responsibility when they screw up?  When they don't learn about a competitor's involvement?  When they don't learn how little their prospect will actually spend?  When they don't realize they're being used simply to justify staying with the incumbent?  When they didn't uncover the compelling reasons to buy?  When they didn't question a put-off?  When they didn't close a closable opportunity?  When they lost the business?

Taking responsibility is the start to changing behaviors and outcomes.  As long as your salespeople are allowed to make excuses nothing will ever change.  When you get your salespeople to say, "My fault - I wasn't effective enough", things will change because they'll be forced to ask the next question, "So what could I have done differently?"

We know what Jim Joyce could have done differently.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, Sales Accountability, excuse making, Jim Joyce, Blown Call, blown sale, lost sale

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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