How To Reflect, Learn And Win After Losing A Contract

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a contract does not go your way despite your team’s best efforts. Even though you spent hours preparing a perfect proposal that was strategically correct, sometimes things don’t go your way.

Being in business means losing contracts. Most organizations lose more contracts than win. RAIN Group Center of Sales Research’s survey found that the average win rate in sales is below 50%. However, the average sales win rate is less than 50% for elite performers who win more contracts than 70% and 40% for the rest.

From my experience with small- and medium-sized businesses competing for contracts in both public and private sectors, it is clear that not everyone wins. However, it is not helpful to fall into the trap of feeling like you are failing. It doesn’t help you to improve your performance and averages. It is not how elite performers think when they are unsuccessful in closing a sale.

What can you do to find out the “Where are we going wrong?” What can you do to increase your win rates above the average or even elite level? The below tips can be used to help your team learn, reflect and win after losing contracts.

1. To find out what the client could have done differently or better to win the contract, ask politely.

Finding out what went wrong when a deal is lost can teach you some of the most important lessons. So why not find the answers to your question? It would support if you also considered that what didn’t work for this client may be repeated with other clients.

You don’t have to be embarrassed or hurt by asking for feedback. After thanking your client for allowing you to participate in their project, tell them that you want to learn more regarding how you can improve. Here are some questions you should ask:

* “Was it possible to do more or less in this situation to improve our chances of winning the deal?”

* “Can you help me understand why our proposed solution doesn’t meet the criteria set out in the bid?”

You will use the feedback you get to improve your process. This will allow you to understand your industry competitors — with whom you may be competing in the future for the same company. Take advantage of these lessons to increase your business’s prospects in the future.

2. Consider the client’s eyes when you review your proposal.

Once you have the feedback from your client, you will be able to understand better what they were trying to fulfill with their project. This will allow you to see the client’s priorities and help you review your proposal. But remember: “Am I selling my company’s product/service as it benefits clients?”

Our tendency as cheerleaders for products and services is to oversell features that don’t solve the client’s immediate problem. The client may not be able to see the value in your solution. Remind your team and yourself to stop selling details.

3. Set up a postmortem session with your team.

It is possible to make your proposal more effective by analyzing the failure project from beginning to ending with everyone involved.

* What went well?

* What went wrong

* How can we make the future better?

Never point fingers at anyone. This could lead to negative connotations surrounding the bidding process. Instead, use the meeting to discuss best practices and possible improvements.

Listen to each member and take their suggestions seriously. You can edit, change, or implement steps where necessary. Also, it would help if you incorporated any feedback you receive from the client after the sale is over. The entire process should be fluid and open for constructive criticism throughout any potential project.

It will take some effort to move your contract closing rate from the “rest” level to the “elite,” but it is not impossible. However, it’s possible to receive constructive criticism and be open to practical changes. Don’t dismiss the loss. Instead, take the chance to reflect on your process and find ways to improve. You, your company, and your team will be better placed to win the next primary contract deal.

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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