I failed, and you’ll never guess what came nexttl:dr; Life is full of ups and downs. True success is learning from those losses. 4 min read
Life is full of ups and downs. You win some, you lose some. True success is about learning from your losses. But the simple fact is in life you do lose some of the time.
You lose the chance.
You lose the opportunity.
And sometimes even though you had both of those … you lose the pitch.
It’s easy (and forgivable) to want to sit and lick your proverbial wounds after losing a pitch, but where does that get you other than sitting miserably in the corner snapping spaghetti?
Feeling sorry for yourself isn’t the ideal outcome of an unsuccessful business deal, proposal, or pitch.
“Successful people don’t fear failure but understand that it’s necessary to learn and grow from.” – Robert Kiyosaki
Robert Kiyosaki (author of the famous book Rich Dad, Poor Dad) knows all too well that the best way to handle rejection and failure is to learn from it. Sounds tough, doesn’t it? Sure, but things that are worth doing usually are.
Learn from your mistakes
We know this might seem easier to say than do – especially when you’re in the pit of failure – but failure is essential to growth. Think back to some of your life’s failures (or flip your thinking and call them learning points) and you’ll soon see the opportunity to learn was there. You’ll probably even see some of the really great things that came out of it. You just didn’t know that would happen at the time.
Mistakes and failure can hurt, and we don’t expect you to think or feel any other way. When you make a mistake or when you miss out on that proposal or pitch, there’s nearly always a lesson to be learnt.
There are so many examples of great things that came out of failure, and although it can feel a bit ‘twee’ in this YouTube-driven world, it’s a great thing, we promise!
There are some common reasons to have lost potential business. These include:
– The prospect found a cheaper/better alternative
– The prospect didn’t have the authority to decide
– The prospect ghosted you
Let’s delve into these painful outcomes and see what we can unpick …
“Someone else was cheaper!”
Ah … price! It’s an important factor in business, for sure. But do we ever genuinely buy on price? Many would argue that we don’t buy on price, but sometimes we use it as a good excuse when we’re not convinced. If we did all buy on price, we’d all be driving around in cheap, second-hand cars. We wouldn’t all have the latest iPhones, and our TVs would be considerably smaller than they are. We don’t always choose the cheapest option.
We buy on instinct, on gut feeling, and on emotion. Price has a place in the sense that we like to get perceived VALUE, but often a failure here could simply mean that you didn’t pitch well enough or that you were pitching at an unsuitable business in the first place.
If someone wants a cheap website for example, they’re often not the right fit for us. We don’t build cheap websites because we understand how much goes into a site that converts and does the job a website is supposed to do. Websites can be complex and need a lot of planning and work. When someone doesn’t understand that, or doesn’t show any willingness to learn, we know we’re not a good fit for each other. And that’s fine. There are plenty of other people who can help them.
Learning point: Price is important, but more important is getting the right customers who are on the same page as you.
“I need to speak with my boss”
Alarm bells! This is down to two reasons (and you can learn from both!):
You’re speaking to the wrong person. You’re not speaking to the decision maker and that could indicate that your pitch is about to land even worse with the person who’s got the decision to make.
It’s a polite, “no thanks” and they’re simply stalling the inevitable.
Either way, you got something wrong here. It could have been the wrong contact or the wrong pitch. Something happened that they didn’t expect, and they didn’t like.
Learning point: Make sure you find out who the decision maker is and what the decision-making process is way before you pitch. What you pitch isn’t nearly as important as who you’re pitching to.
Ghosted? Yuck. There’s not much worse in sales than the cold shoulder, is there? Not hearing back at all could show you a multitude of sins on your sales, but it’s likely to fall under the brackets of:
– You missed the mark
– They went with someone else and didn’t quite have the guts to tell you
– You were never in the race; they just needed some prices to benchmark
– They weren’t that bothered about what you had to offer
The circumstances changed and they’ve cast you aside
Either way, there’s a great tip here that works. Wanna hear it? Of course you do.
The ‘close the file email’
The ‘close the file email’ takes away the anxiety and pressure from your prospect. You simply say something along the lines of:
“Hey, It doesn’t seem like this project is a priority for you right now, so I’m going to close the file. Is that OK with you?”
This can often result in your prospect coming back with the real reason it’s not been replied to … or you hear nothing and you really can put this one to bed and move on. It’s better to know that the sale isn’t going to happen than holding out false hopes. Go and focus on those ones that you’re more likely to close.
Of course … if you’ve only followed up once and didn’t really try that hard then you may well have been guilty of not going after it hard enough. This isn’t about pressure sales though; this is about ensuring you’ve nudged the prospect enough and given them plenty of chances to read your email or take your call. Life’s busy for us all, after all.
Learning point: If you’ve not had a response, you might not have followed up enough or in the right way. Sometimes you’re being avoided as they don’t want to say, “No thanks”. Sometimes they just missed your email or call and one more time could be worth it. Help them realise that it’s fine to say no at any point during the process so they’re comfortable being honest with you.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison knows what true success is and it lies in the depths of failure. Next time you screw up or simply fail a little – go and search for your lesson. Life’s one big learning curve and your failed sales pitches and proposals are no different.