Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford

NAVIGATION - SEARCH

When A Loss Is Really A Win - January 17, 2015

A few nights ago I was having a beer after work with a few friends and colleagues. I was in a relatively good mood and so someone asked why. I explained that a prospective client that I’d been dealing with for several months made a decision. They chose to hire another firm and not mine. I couldn’t have been happier with their decision.

 

I think my friend stopped breathing for a moment as he looked at me as if I had three heads. “Why in the world are you happy that they turned you down”, he asked. My response quite simply was because sometimes with a loss you actually come out with a win. Here’s what I shared with him.

 

This prospective client initially seemed perfect, maybe too perfect. They were an ideal size for my firm both in revenue and market share. They seemed open to new ideas, especially as we shared recent experiences and successes with other clients. The director of marketing had been there about three years and seemed to have a very good grasp on their needs and where they currently sit within their respective industry. Pleasantries were exchanged and plans for continuing conversations were laid.

 

Well, over the course of the next eight weeks we met her manager, the vice president of sales and marketing. He was not at all pleasant. He did not like the idea of “outsiders” coming in and “telling him what to do with his website and web marketing”, and he did not show very much respect for the woman that was his director of marketing. I was surprised that she actually sat through meetings and took his verbal abuse. Then came the director of information technology. He crawled right out of a time warp. It is as if 1996 to 2014 did not happen. His ideas were old and antiquated. He was gruff and somewhat abusive too. It’s not often I say this, but in terms of technology and business, he had no grasp on reality.

 

Yet, at every turn where I wanted to run the other way, the director of marketing kept asking me back and asking for my help. Now, knowing there were many red flags, I addressed my concerns with her and took these concerns into consideration when estimating the cost of their project. Ultimately, I priced my company right out of consideration. And, as expected, her vice president of marketing called me directly to voice his displeasure in my proposal and he was vulgar on the telephone. Two days later I received the email stating this prospective client went with a different service provider.

 

After I explained this situation to my friend, he bought me another beer, thanked me for sharing my story, and then asked if I would come in and meet with his team. He is rather high up in management within his organization, more from an operations standpoint than sales, but believes his company all too often enters bad relationships in spite of the warning signs.

 

As with any relationship, it may take a little time for someone to show their true colors. Sales relationships are no different. Be careful when the warning signs point to you running far away. Follow your gut feeling. When you lose a deal, be careful to chalk it up to a loss, because in reality it may be a great win.

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