It Was Another Salesperson Who Won the Deal

alt text for the image of a kid with a black eyeWhen you do your win-loss analysis, you look at the list of companies that you competed against, sometimes winning, sometimes losing.

You know who they are, and you talk about the competitor by using their company name. When we talk about winning, we talk about beating company A or winning against company B. We do the same thing when we lose; we talk about how this company or that company beat us because they were bigger or because they had a lower price.

But it wasn’t another company that won the opportunity with your dream client; it was one of their salespeople that beat you. (You may want to take a minute and recover from that one; I know it feels like a punch below the belt.). There was a another salesperson who, in some meaningful way, did a better job selling.

The Power of Accepting Responsibility

Coming to terms with this idea, as bad as it hurts, can improve your sales game.

The problem with rationalizing that you lost due to your competitor’s greater size is that believing this means there is no way for you to behave in a way that will allow you to win in the future. Besides, it isn’t true anyway.

The problem with rationalizing that you only lost on price is that it absolves you of having to take responsibility for not selling in a way that proves that there is a difference between price and cost. It eliminates the possibility that you can shift the deciding factors away from price and to the total overall value created. It is possible. It’s consultative selling and it’s done all of the time.

You didn’t lose on price; you lost because you didn’t sell well enough.

What you believe drives your actions. Your actions produce—or don’t produce results. If you believe that another salesperson took actions that resulted in their winning the deal, then you can believe that it was possible for you to take actions that would have resulted in you winning that deal.

The power of accepting responsibility—and not rationalizing away the loss—is that you can determine what you did (or didn’t do) that caused you to lose, and then you can work to avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

I Was Beaten. Next Time, I Will Do Better.

A few simple words contain so much power: “I was beaten by their salesperson. I know how I lost. I won’t easily repeat that mistake again.”

There is no salesperson that has not lost an opportunity that they believe they deserved to win. There is no salesperson that hasn’t been beaten by a salesperson with an inferior solution, but who did an exceptional job and outsold them.
It comes with the territory: if you sell, you will sometimes lose.

You won’t have lost to whatever your ego decides to use to help protect itself by rationalizing the loss and absolving you of responsibility. You will have lost to another salesperson. When you win, you will have beaten another salesperson.

Understanding why you won and how you were beaten will help prevent you from losing to the salesperson in the next contest.

You know whether or not you did the needs analysis and discovery work that would have been required to win.

You know whether or not you had the relationships and votes you needed to win the opportunity going into the presentation.

You know whether or not you obtained the commitments to access the people who influenced the decision and the information you needed to ensure that your solution would have been chosen.

You know whether or not you sold inside and got what you needed from your team to win the deal.

If you do some serious introspection, you’ll discover what you should have done and where you fell off your sales process. You’ll know how you were beaten, and you’ll know what part of you was a willing accomplice in your loss.

Your competition is tough. They deserve your respect. You should stay awake at night worrying that they are taking the actions that will result in your losing, and that you cannot afford to take shortcuts, miss the commitments that you need, and violate the iron laws of sales.


It is easy to rationalize away losing to another company. But you were beaten by another salesperson. Accepting this is the key to improving.


  1. Be honest, before I reminded you that it was another salesperson that beat you, it was easier to rationalize your losses, wasn’t it?

  2. When you win, you can normally point to the advantages that led to that win. Are you as willing to look at your losses and be as honest as to what you didn’t do that might have resulted in your winning?

  3. Who do you need to be to move beyond rationalizing your failures and absolving yourself from responsibility when you lose? How can accepting responsibility improve your future sales behaviors? How can your losses move you closer towards excellence?

  4. What do you have to do to ensure that you learn from every loss? What do you have to do to apply the lessons that you learned in future contests?

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  • victor kippes

    So true. Good sales people take losses well and personal. Bad sales people blame it on price.

  • Manfred Gollent

    Great post Antony!
    It is always our responsibility if we “loose” a deal. When we analyse the buying/selling process we shall find where we made the mistake, took a shortcut, did not read the prospects signals, etc. Obviously, it could also happen already in the prospect qualifying process when sales professionals are all to eager to have an optimistic view and then waste time on a loosing proposition.
    One question I do have: From a mindset perspective, how can I “loose” something I don’t have in the first place?

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Manfred. As to mindset, you are losing the opportunity to serve your dream client and add their business (albeit, temporarily), you are not losing their business, which, as you point out, you didn’t have. I take your point; you have to move on, and with a pipeline of opportunities that allow for loses. But from a mindset perspective, you don’t ever have to like being beaten. But you do have to learn from the greatest teachers you will ever have . . . your loses and your failures.

  • Daniel M. Wood

    Very true Anthony,

    I you cannot even accept that you lost it is cannot to accept that you should have done something better and that someone else executed better than you did.

    Without the humility to take that responsibility you can not improve because you won’t be able to tell yourself that you need to improve.

  • Marc The Sales Techniques Guy

    I disagree about another salesperson winning or beating you. I believe it was you simply not winning. If you have all the right tools to make the sale then you make every sale as long as it’s an ethical sale.
    There are occasion when you shouldn’t make the sale and if someone else does then you were ethical and did the right thing.
    I liked your post and will update my article Sales Information-Quickly and Easily Close More Sales about your post

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Have at it, Marc. We’ll have to disagree on this one; I have to much experience contrary to the false belief that you can win every sale. (I am still old school enough to call “not winning” something like “losing”).

  • Pingback: Sales Information-Is There A Winner And Loser? | Sales Techniques To Close More Sales

  • Don F Perkins


    Without question – we would all do well to honestly reflect on every interaction with a customer and be honest with ourselves when it comes to our performance. Accepting responsibility for loss can be very burdensome and painful but paradoxically enriching as well.

    I’m a bit more cautious about applying absolutes to anything as complex as an enterprise sale, but responsible reflective thought coupled with a spirit of unyielding determination creates a formidable salesperson for sure.

    The question this brings to mind is: why is it that so many of us don’t learn from our losses? Why do we remain in old ruts even when we know better? How many will read your post and go right back to business as usual? Perhaps another post is in order…

    Don F Perkins