What To Do When You Are the Runner Up

It came down to a competition, and you were, sadly, bested. Your dream client has told you that you were the runner up. What now?

Why Your Dream Client Told You Were Second

Your dream client told you that you were second place and that it was a close contest for a number of reasons. First, it may actually be true, but it is much easier to let you down easy, especially after you worked hard to win and you were so hopeful. Second, it makes it easier for them to close the issue without you making it uncomfortable by continuing to plead you case or asking for another bite at the apple.

In reality, if the decision has truly been made, and if there is no way for you to reopen the opportunity, it doesn’t matter if you finished second in the contest, or whether you finished last. It does matter how you behave after you lose.

Be Gracious, And Then . . .

It’s easy after losing a competitive contest to make all the wrong moves. You must be gracious in defeat and thank your dream client for their opportunity. But then, you have to get back to selling.

If your dream client is truly a dream client, then the fact that they chose one of your competitors changes nothing: you still want their business.

Too often, a heartbreaking loss can cause you to take your eye off the ball. Instead of continuing to develop the relationships that you need to win in the next contest—or to pick up the pieces should your competitor fail—you move on to other opportunities, forgetting all about your lost dream client.

Losing feels like closure. It feels like there is little or no reason to continue your nurturing efforts, and it feels like there is no reason to call your dream client. In reality, the battle may have been lost, but the war has yet to be decided.

Instead of disappearing, stay close and make sure that when your opportunity is reborn that you haven’t gone anywhere. Continue to make the sales calls up and down the organization, maintain and improving the relationships that you need for any future opportunity. Continue your nurturing efforts, trying to find ways to create value that will keep you at the front of your dream client’s mind.

If you were truly the runner up, you are obligated to try and to try again. Even if you were last, you are obligated to keep trying. You continued efforts might be enough to move you into the pole position in the future. No matter how cold the non-opportunity may be, you will never win any dream client if you stop pursuing them.

Questions

Make a list of the dream clients you have lost over the last few years.

How many of them are you still consistently pursuing?

How many are you still nurturing like you were before you lost the contest?

What changed? Why don’t you still want your dream client like you did before?

What should you be doing to ensure you have a greater likelihood of winning when another opportunity develops?

ANNOUNCEMENT: On January 14, 2011, Future Selling Institute is being launched. It’s focused on sales leaders and aspiring leaders—sales managers, executives, general managers responsible for the sales function. It’s packed full of resources to help sales leaders excel! Any sales leader interested in their personal, professional and career development will want to join this community. Join us on January 14, 2011 for the kickoff conference.

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Filed under: Sales 3.0

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