If You Are Going to Lose, Throw the Hail Mary Pass

You are down by seven points in the last quarter of the football game. You have the ball on your opponent’s 35 yard line. There are twelve seconds on the clock, and it is fourth down. You can call one of two plays.

The first play is a deep ball to the back of the end zone. The odds of pulling it off are very low. Your opponent is well aware of what you are likely to do, and they know this is your last play.

The other play is to wait for the clock to run out. If you wait for the clock to run out, you lose the game. Since you expect to lose anyway, you may as well spike the ball, take your loss and move onto the next game, right? There is always next year, right?


When you are almost certain to lose, there is no reason to not take a shot. The worst thing that can happen is that you lose, but you are already losing. Or maybe you’ve already lost – it’s just that no one has told you yet. There aren’t different levels of losing. A loss is a loss. There isn’t any honor in losing without putting up a fight.

If there is still a chance to win, you have to take that shot. Every good coach would call that play, and every team would do their damnedest to execute it.

When it’s down to you and your competitor, and you believe they are winning the contest, there is no reason to not do whatever you can to try to win the deal. If you have to ask them to not to make the decision until you meet with them, make the ask. If you need another chance to present something different, ask to show them another choice that’s available to them. If you totally botched the presentation, ask to present again. If you believe they have concerns that you have left unresolved, ask to resolve them.

Even if the prospect tells you they have everything they need from you and that they are going to discuss it among themselves and decide, ask to be part of that conversation.

Put the ball up in the air, and take a shot.

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