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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

The Phantom Sales Strikeout

There's no glory is wasting time complaining about a strikeout when you never were at the plate to begin with.

On the day this blog drops, my beloved Texas Rangers will play the Houston Astros in the second of a best-of-seven-game tilt to decide which team will represent the American League in the World Series. As a fan of a mostly floundering franchise, I find myself filled with anticipation and excitement.

One thing that's always fascinated me about "The Great Game" is that the number of failures is far greater than the successes - and the same applies in sales: losing out on transactional sales, projects, programs, and sometimes even clients. When there is a loss, it is always a good idea to conduct a post-mortem to understand the why of the loss. Understanding the why allows the opportunity to learn from the losing experience and adjust for future improvements.

However, far too often, salespeople spend an excessive amount of time lamenting about the loss of an opportunity, not a particular sale: the prospect who won't take a meeting, not getting that invite to participate in an RFP, or the "client" who always buys from your competition. Before you spend your most valuable commodity – time – you need to ask yourself if you ever really had the sale to begin with.

When you've truly lost a sale, it's critical to do a post-mortem to understand the why. This is where you can leverage the relationship to recognize the cause and develop a solution. Conversely, mourning the loss of a sale you never had is a waste of time and energy because you will likely never understand the reasons behind the prospect's actions simply because there is no relationship.

Baseball players who never get up to bat don't waste time griping about a strikeout – that's reserved for the ones who actually had an opportunity to swing. Only when you step up to the plate, swing, and miss should you invest the time and effort to understand the why of the failure. Anything else is simply coaching from the bench.

I just hope the Astros have fewer successes this week - and at inopportune times - than the Rangers.

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