Here’s What You Should (And Shouldn’t) Do After Losing A Deal

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

You’re in sales, and just like Babe Ruth, you will strike out! I hope that like Babe Ruth, your home runs over-shadow your strikeouts but even great ballplayers will miss a few fastballs.

Now what you do right after your strikeout will dictate whether or not you’re setting yourself up for future success or a fast pass to the minor leagues. There are very few buying purchases in the world that are 1x events over a lifetime. You will get another at bat! ERP software, training or even commercial real estate transactions have another chance at the plate over enough time.

Swinging and missing, and leaving the plate with class and future readiness for that next at bat is key.

Here’s what not to do

Foul#1 : Being Incognito

This is the equivalent to a baseball player running into the dugout after a strikeout and hiding in the locker room. I hear horror stories from buyers about this experience, and trust me, you’re not hiding, you’re memorable, just for all the wrong reasons.

Foul #2: The snap back angry email

This is the equivalent to the batter smashing the bat over their knee after the strike out. At this point, you let your emotions get the best of you.

You’re unprofessional and you’re certainly someone that a company doesn’t want on their payroll or business connections. These are the players that you see on ESPN for 15 minutes of fame, but always find their way into the minor leagues a few weeks later.

Foul #3: Begging for a rethink of the decision

This is the equivalent to a batter arguing or pleading with the umpire. In the history of sport, has this ever worked?

Do you really think a C-level executive is so indecisive that they’ll have a rethink? They make a 6-figure salary to make tough and fast decisions! You’re wasting your breath.

What To Do

Smooth Move #1: Empathize that the buyer had a tough call to make

The umpire called you out. It’s a tough job. Turn around to the umpire and thank them for the opportunity to be at bat.

Wave to the crowd. You’re in the big leagues. Embrace it.

Remember that you will be at bat again and a baseball strike zone is a subjective, emotionally driven area, just like a sale. The umpire will be making decisions again on other things and come on… have you seen baseball? Some players get preferential treatment. Treat the umpire well, and they’ll treat you well in the future.

Smooth Move #2: Explore a post-mortem with WHAT & HOW questions

The umpire has perceived power (so does the buyer), frame that perceived power for them. If the umpire (the buyer) gives you an opportunity to explore their reasons for not choosing you, ask questions in what or how format.

In Chris Voss’ book, Never Split the Difference, these are high level FBI hostage negotiation tactics. Let the other party feel they have perceived power, but have to truly verbally explore with WHAT & HOW, which creates a self-reflection process. This validates bull-shit quickly! This validates any missed step on either end. You begin to hear real buying intent.

Smooth-Move #3: Become their future teacher

The umpire has to learn best practices as well. Build a connect that has a teacher-to-student dynamic. Most buyers live in an echo-chamber of learning. Their worlds are very myopic. Place your buyer on an education cadence that will help that buyer understand that they only really understand a small fraction of the total problem. Everyone in the stadium will start seeing you as best in class… not just about batter.


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