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Even When You Do Everything Right, You Don’t Always Get The Business

Over the years in Inner Circle meetings there have been stories about how people do everything right. They determine prospects’needs, do a great job of showing how what they offer meets or exceeds those needs, get to the decision maker, write a terrific proposal and/or-according to the prospect; make the best presentation of all the prospective vendors. Still, they do not get the business. These stories seem to be more frequent during these days of economic uncertainty. Regardless of good times or bad, there is a common thread that runs through almost all of them: during the selling process, red flags were raised. Things that may have seemed small at the time, looking back, formed a pattern that at least implied, “NO SALE.”

The biggest red flag of all is when someone who is in the decision-making chain leaves the prospect company. The higher up that person is, the redder the flag. Their replacement comes in and many times has their own ideas about what vendor to use. The CEO/owner may not want to interfere with a new person’s ability to prove him or herself in the business. If the proposed project involves outside investment and new investors come on board, they may have their own ideas about how their investment should be spent. In both of these cases, ignore the red flag at your peril. It may be necessary to start the whole process all over again.

Above all, people who have experienced these losses counsel others to not burn bridges. Show no anger to the people who said “you guys are number 1” along the way only to pull the rug out from under you. Thank them for the opportunity and ask permission to check back in 3-6 months to see how things are going. Sometimes, other service providers mess up and create opportunities for someone to fix the mess. And, above all, remain true to your strategies and values. Doing the right things in the right way will win out more often than not.