I have lost several sales deals in my career. The most interesting ones are the cases where I had expected that “it was a no brainer – it’s my deal. The customer is going to buy from us and from nobody else” and the customer ends up placing an order with my competition!
Coming to think of it, before I have lost the deal, I have had a clear confidence and the puzzle was solved in my mind about why the customer should and will buy from us, but re-arranging the pieces of the puzzle later on and making sense of the customer’s decision to go with a competitor is a lot of learning.
I recall having read somewhere, “When you have done the experiment as per what the process is and the results are not as what you expect, check your assumptions and inputs”.
Almost always this was true in my case.
Re-arranging the puzzle in any situation where the results were different from what was expected, I would notice several assumptions in creating the jig-saw puzzle. As I progress on the sales case, it is my job to constantly validate the assumptions and rearrange the puzzle pieces in my mind to understand the outcome of the deal. Sometimes, I would not have validated these assumptions, but was holding the picture of a solved puzzle in my mind. Sometimes, we are ignorant of the assumptions made, (or worse still, our ego does not let us accept that we have made these assumptions) and the results obviosuly turn out to be different.
Try this experiment the next time you are working on a case.
List out on a piece of paper, all the assumptions you have made in the sales case as to why you would win.If you lose the deal, then revisit those assumptions to make sure if you have made any wrong assumption or if you have overlooked something (which again is a subtle, unstated assumption). Check out and you will find the answer as to why the results were not as expected.