You lost that million dollar deal .. now what?

Million-dollar deals in enterprise sales can be the difference between an organisation meeting its targets or missing them. But if you don’t want a repeat, do these 5 things

Disappointing probably would be an understatement! Months of labour and effort comes to a nought. Because in a deal (mostly) there is only 1 winner. And if you are in application sales, you could probably say bye to that account for a couple of years or more.

But there is the next account where you are probably going to lock horn with the same competitors. You want to make the score even. For that to happen, ensure you do the following:

1. Meet the customer – As early as you can. To get his feedback. And to sense if there is some window open. Is there an opportunity to divide the work order? But if it’s a no, try and get honest, frank feedback – What we could have done differently? Areas where competition did better than us. Were we better on technical or commercials? If pricing was the same, would we have won? At this stage, the customer has his guard down and will probably share the nuggets which can get you the next one.

2. Capture the competition details – Do this in as much detail as possible. In public sector enterprises this information is circulated with all participants. In private sector you will need your contacts/coach to help you. Securing this is of utmost importance. What was competition pricing for the various solution components/products/services? Did they include/exclude any free service. Are their taxation policies consistent? What was their precise technical solution/ configuration? If you can lay your hands on the critical elements of their proposal you have definitely got something lethal! When fed into the deal management system such data can be analysed and used to guide your pricing approvals and/or technical solutioning.

3. Win-loss analysis – When you win, the celebration does not need any prodding. But when you lose a deal, this is difficult to do. However most good sales teams invest time in doing this so that they can improve in the future. E.g. If the competitor had out-witted you thru smart packaging/buy-back, next time you could educate the customer or work with your pricing team to create your own. If the technical solution was weak, you can involve better experts in the next deal. If the responsiveness was missing, one could invest more time in proper planning and tracking of deal responsibilities. If the bid quality was not up to the mark, sales ops may consider better practices/tools for documentation and review. Net net, try and keep the emotions aside, be as objective as possible and focus on finding ways to make the next deal happen. I like the following structure we used.

Win loss summary

4. Feed this info to everyone within the organization – Don’t restrict the Win-Loss analysis to sales, pre-sales only. Share it will all concerned – sales operations, training, PMO, Industry experts, marketing, etc. So that collectively, concrete actions can flow which can help turn the tide next time round. E.g. if you discovered that one of the key technical influencers was not well mapped, going forward marketing could invest time to educate him/her. If in an opportunity the partner/OEM selection was not right, your partner team could focus on partner enablement or work with other partners/OEMs.

5. Continue to stay engaged – There are many hops between when the customer decides and when the project actually starts. Many things could change in between. And even if they don’t, the project implementation could run into rough weathers. While the pre-contract engagement will need to be led by sales, the post contract communication could be handled by marketing or pre-sales or inside-sales. Continuing to stay engaged also communicates to the customer that you are keen on a long-term relationship and not just on the current transaction.

Nothing is more crucial than a win. Getting ready for it though, starts with the previous deal. Good luck!

Comments and observations welcome at