You and your team worked hard to land a new account and the prospect went with someone else. What now? If you’re at a loss for what to do next, below are five actionable items that you can implement with your team.
1. Assess the situation.
The first thing to ask yourself is, “did we belong at the presentation?” and if so, “did we present at the right time?” Enthusiastic prospects are the most powerful drug on the market. An eager potential client can convince sales people to present too early, without even properly qualifying their approach. In these situations, it is imperative to identify your process and stick to it. Don’t allow the scope of the prospect or their timeline affect how you follow your process. If you do not have a formal process at this time, brainstorm with your team to develop a list of questions that you should be able to answer before every presentation you give. This will ensure that you never attempt to bring on a client too early.
2. Highlight and celebrate what went well.
While the end result is not what you had hoped for, keep everything in perspective. There were a lot of good things that happened in route to rejection. Maybe one of your junior sales leaders stepped up. Perhaps a team member caught a mistake before it made it to the client. Did you see your team working cohesively as a unit? Make sure you take the time to impress upon those who you manage, how good of a job they did, even if the final score didn’t reflect their efforts. Sales and client acquisition is about a lot more than just the number of prospects you convert. Coaching to this principal, instead of the bottom line, is sure to improve your performance and ratios down the road. If you point out the positives in a situation, people are more likely to repeat them.
3. Learn from your mistakes.
This may be where a leader can have the most impact. There’s no better teacher than experience, and the best way to improve after a failure is to address the problem head on. This is an important step to take in real time instead of waiting. The more time that goes by, the less that will be remembered. Where did you lose the account? In the proposal, the pitch? Gather your team together and determine what your biggest weakness was. Once identified, brainstorm how you can turn it into a strength and ensure that it never limits you again. If you can gain valuable experience, develop new proficiencies, and improve team chemistry along the way, was losing the account really a negative?
4. Don’t overcorrect / Keep the family together.
The easy choice might be “blow it up” and start over with a new team, but that would be an overreaction. Too often, teams are judged and critiqued based upon isolated outcomes. Unless there are intense chemistry issues, keep your team together for an extended period of time and continue to foster growth and development amongst the members. As is true with anything, only practice will improve performance. Each time your team faces a stressful situation, they have a chance to improve. Persevering as a unit will make them stronger in the long run.
5. Individual coaching goes a long way.
Don’t overlook the importance of pulling individual team members aside and issuing advice or commendations. While recapping the series of events that led to rejection with the group is important, coaching up each of your subordinates on their own offers a unique opportunity to increase trust, develop chemistry, and address concerns. Little acknowledgments and personal advice can go a long way towards improving subordinates’ future efforts. Demonstrating belief in your team members, regardless of their level of success, is a major key to cultivating a healthy culture.
You’re not going to win every pitch you approach. In fact, you’ll probably lose most of them. As a leader, it is your duty to make sure undesired outcomes don’t have a lingering negative effect. If you are able to consider the five items above and incorporate them into your practice, you’ll be well on your way to ensuring that failed client acquisitions are viewed through the right lens and serve as valuable experience and motivation to improve in the future.
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