On Self-Inflicted Wounds

You just found out your dream client chose a new supplier. Not only were you not chosen, you weren’t even invited to compete for their business. Because you didn’t make the calls, because you didn’t open the relationships, and because you didn’t nurture the relationships you needed, you weren’t even invited.

You were asked to present to what is surely a dream client, even though you weren’t involved with shaping their needs. You were late to the game. You had no real understanding of their problems, and you had no way of knowing the ground truth. Instead of asking your dream client to let you do the discovery work you needed, you presented anyway and missed the mark by a wide margin.

You and your dream client are down the home stretch together, and it looks like a certain win. They ask for time to work through the decision themselves, and they promise to get back with you soon. But instead of asking to meet and discuss what might be deal-breaking concerns, you allow the client to decide without your help. You discover later that you lost the deal over concerns that you might have easily resolved.

These are self-inflicted wounds. In all of the situations described above (and countless more like them), the decision to take one course of action—or not to take some action—resulted in the loss of an opportunity.

Deals You Shouldn’t Lose

In the course of selling, you are going to lose your fair share of deals. You are going to lose deals that you deserve to win, and you are going to win some deals that you probably deserve to lose. But you shouldn’t lose the deals that some simple, known action could have prevented.

You shouldn’t lose deals because you never tried to open and nurture the relationships that you need. You shouldn’t lose because you failed to prospect or failed to make yourself known.

You shouldn’t lose deals because you failed to ask for the commitments you needed in order to follow your proven sales process. You shouldn’t lose deals when you know what you need to win them.

You shouldn’t lose deals because you disengaged from the client at the 11th hour, when all buyers try to resolve their concerns.

You shouldn’t lose deals because you failed to fire every weapon in your arsenal, and you shouldn’t lose deals because you failed to play until the final whistle blows (hopefully that’s enough metaphors for you).

Choose action over inaction. Choose asking for the commitments you need over taking a flyer. Choose more face-to-face sales calls to handle the sticky issues over fewer (or none). You are going to lose your share of deals, but you shouldn’t inflict that damage upon yourself.


If you are being honest with yourself, how have you caused yourself to lose deals?

Are most of the wounds you have inflicted upon yourself the result of action or inaction?

Think about the last couple deals that you lost? What could you have done differently? What lessons can you take with you to future contests?

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Filed under: Sales

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