Losing Is Part of Progress

March 7, 2012

I’ll never forget the defining moment of my sales career.  I had experienced some nice success in my early sales career.  I made more than my share of awards clubs, I was making good money and, frankly, I was having a lot of fun.

I also knew, intuitively, that, while I was doing well, what I was doing wasn’t going to get me the results I wanted over the long run.  So, in the midst of a successful career, I decided to radically change my approach to selling.

I decided that being a closer wasn’t enough.  While I didn’t use these words at the time, I realized that I needed to become a businessperson who sells.  I needed to earn “a seat at the executive table.”  And to do this, I knew that I would have to develop new skills, new systems and new disciplines.

The first steps of the journey were very exciting for me.  I felt great about what I was doing.  I got to laugh at all the closes I had memorized, and I dreamed of winning big deals, and of hanging out with the movers and shakers of business.

Making the change was tough. I had to work hard.  I’d constantly fall back on old behaviors and found myself pulling out my power closes even when I didn’t want to.  But I was making good progress.  I was entering new, better opportunities.  I was going against tougher competition – a clear sign that my business was growing they way I needed it to.

And then, all of the sudden, I got to face frustration head on.  I was losing opportunities.  Suddenly, I found myself losing more deals in a month than I had in a quarter or even a year.  Clearly something was wrong, and I thought seriously about whether my quest for a better form of selling was a mistake.

When I sat down to assess what wasn’t working, I realized that, while I was losing more opportunities, I was also winning more good, high-profit deals.  I realized that while my skills were improving, I hadn’t mastered them yet.  I was good enough to get in the door with the right people and the right opportunities, but I wasn’t yet good enough to win the business.

What was also fascinating was how much I was learning; both about selling better and about delivering a compelling proposition.  The no’s I was getting were making my company’s offerings better.

I realized that losing was a clear sign of progress and a learning opportunity.  As you grow your company, please don’t forget that, to get where you want to go, you’ll encounter very similar experiences.

If you’ve got a growth story, I’d love to hear about it.  Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

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2 Responses to “Losing Is Part of Progress”

  1. Judy Caroll says:

    Great points, losing isn’t an end game for our hopes and desires. Even though this kind of set back stings, it also makes our business efforts more valuable. It’s something that will cause us to keep pursuing what we want to get for our business. Thanks for sharing;)

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