Selling and Psychology of Losing: Losing is the Secret Ingredient for Winning – or – Losing is Just Losing…

Selling: Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing! But, if you can’t accept losing, you can’t win. ~Vince Lombardi

What creates a more intense emotion: When you ‘win’? When you ‘lose’?  Most sales people will tell you that ‘losing’ is a deeper, more emotional feeling than when they ‘win’. Most sales people want to win so badly that losing just makes them depressed, dejected, and flat-out angry.

According to Richard Schroder: there is much to learn from losing, yet most sales people do not know how to gather meaningful information from customers to learn about their losses. In fact according to research, customers will share– less than 40% of the time– the truth about the reason for their decision. This means that in majority of failed sales situations, sales people do not have an accurate understanding of why they lost.

According to Richard Thaler; when faced with a sales loss the best response is to– acknowledge the setback and learn from it…

According to Mark Hunter; although you shouldn’t dwell on the past, but you should spend some time doing an autopsy on the lost sale and learn from it. If you don’t learn from each sale that you fail to close, then you are committing yourself to a pattern of losing more sales…

You must uncover the truth and what went wrong, and apply it to future sales. Although this is not the time to be defensive or attempt to convince the customer they’ve made a dumb decision… it’s time to made peace with the loss and move forward There’s a saying: When you lose a sale, don’t lose the lesson, too.

In the article What a Losing Salesman Looks Like by Shameless Shamus Brown writes: A salesman losing a deal is kinda like an animal caught by a steel jawed trap crushing its leg. It screams in pain. A salesman losing a deal is a depressing sight, just like a desperate animal caught in a trap; he is doing everything he can to get the order… But, there is no more serious issue in sales than trust: Trust matters! And, telling customers to just trust you more than the competition really shows that you have not conveyed a positive and value-oriented proposition… It shows that you haven’t connected with the buyer.

Most sales people know when they are about to lose, you start to feel it. You can feel the lack of connection with the buyer, and feel that the buyer has pulled away from you. Then, that desperate animal in you just wants to attack; tell the customer every reason why the competition sucks; offering discounts to lower the price; you try everything in a desperate bid to win back the customer… It’s Desperation: That’s what losing looks like… However, losing a sale is not the end of the world– there is a lot more selling to be done… a lot more customers to be sold, a lot more big deals to win… learn from the loss and move-on…

In the article Losing vs. Not Winning the Sale by Anthony Cole writes: If a sales person doesn’t win a sale, then they must have lost it, right? Wrong! There is a not-so-subtle-difference between ‘not winning’ and ‘losing’. When a sales person does ‘not win’, it indicates there was something that they didn’t do to win: The sales person is responsible for not winning. On the other hand, when losing the sale then there was something that happened that was beyond sales person’s  control.

Think about the many ways sales people describe losing a sale… But, all the reasons given usually come down to the simple fact that they just didn’t do enough to uncover or address the specific problems or issues that were important to the customer. To win more sales, sales people must evaluate their each and every sales step, in their loss, and understand what happened along the way: They must do a post-loss debriefing.

Winning, not losing, is the focus for reviewing the details of sales efforts. Winning is hearing ‘yes’ throughout the selling process… Think about what it really means to win more, and what you must do differently to win more. Sure, you’ll lose some, but when you do lose– take it personally; get mad, figure out what you should have done better, then go out and work hard to win again. Sales people must have a passion for winning every sale, and they must do everything possible to avoid ‘not winning’ every sale.

In the article Leveraging the Psychology of the Salesperson by  G. Clotaire Rapaille and Diane Coutu writes: We admire salespeople’s resilience in the face of endless rejection, and their certainty that things will work out in the end. Everyone is familiar with the play ‘Death of a Salesman’, which portrays a well-meaning man broken by the hollowness of his work. Dramas like; ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ present a bleak picture, in which success seems to require moral capitulation.

Salespeople must be pros at losing, since they are rejected most of the time. There must be more too it then just the sale; there most be a strong motivation for the challenge and the chase. However, whatever your culture, you cannot be a salesperson without losing most of the time, so successful sales people must learn to accept loss, or they will get destroyed by the losses.

In the article Why Did We Lose the Big Deal? by Steve W. Martin writes: When you are winning sales; life is great! But, when we’re on the losing side of a deal, it’s easy to feel like the entire world is fallen apart. Losing is a subject that most sales people don’t like to talk about. But, it’s important to understand why we lost the big deal, because unless we truly understand why we lose, we will most assuredly lose again.

While losing to competitors is painful, losing to the dreaded ‘no decision’ is even worse. We spent all the time, effort, and resources on an account that couldn’t even make a decision. Balance of power is definitely in the hands of today’s buyer and the situation will only continue to get worse.

Today’s customers are smarter and more skeptical than ever. In addition, product differentiation is at an all time low. Your competitors have not sat idly by either: They are educated about most products and sales tactics, and focused on winning more than ever. Fortunately, they usually believe in the use of brute force and think the best way to defeat the enemy is by frontal attack, when in reality, winning over the hearts and minds of customers carries the day…

Whether losing to ‘competitors’ or ‘no decision’, true loss analysis starts by asking fundamental questions that are inherent to every sale, such as:

  • Did we sell to the bully with the juice?
  • Did we sell logically or psychologically?
  • Did we know the decision maker’s fantasy?
  • Did we have a coach or internal advocate in the account?
  • Did we build personal relationships with the C-Level Decision-maker?

In the article How to Avoid the Pain of Losing the Sale by K Cameron Lau writes: The fact of the matter is that selling does not always result in a happy ending. Sometimes it’s possible to put in every ounce of effort to the nth-degree, only to find yourself on a sinking ship, lost at sea, alone, just wondering where it all went wrong.

Selling is not easy. It takes careful planning, hard work, dedication, consistency, and open communication. It takes a willingness to throw yourself out there while tossing all fears of rejection straight out the window. By putting in the effort and playing smart you will likely find yourself in sales bliss, closing deals like there is no tomorrow. That being said, lost sales are unavoidable. There will be times where, for reasons completely out of your control, things just go wrong.

The fact of the matter is that if you were seriously invested or committed to that sales process or that customer, sometimes losing that sale just plain– hurts; it may scar, it may wound, it may leave a mark… But, you are a professional and your business is selling. So if and when the inevitable strikes and you lose that sale; simple remember who you are; then dust yourself off and get yourself right back in the saddle again

You win some, you lose some… According to Jim Busch; sales people hate to lose, but even the best lose far more often than win. In fact, the top producers hear ‘no’ a lot more than the average sales person, simply because they pitch more people and close more often than their less ambitious peers. Why is this so?

There is just a shortage of good salespeople with the self-esteem and psychic toughness to put up with constant rejection. Since losing is such a big part of selling, how a sales person handle loss is an important factor in their success… Losing is tough, but if you work in sales, you have to get used to it. By definition selling is persuading others to buy your product. You need the cooperation of the customer to be successful. There is no 100% foolproof ways to get others to accept your ideas…

Many fail at selling because they cannot handle the rejection, and they don’t understand that embracing loss is necessary for success. Even Vince Lombardi who said: Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing! Had to admit: If you can’t accept losing, you can’t win. Good sales people never learn to like losing, but they learn to accept it as part of the job.

Winston Churchill defined success as: Going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. Mental toughness enables a sales person to go from rejection to rejection without losing their edge. We all come up with our own ways to deal with rejection.

Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for change. Every loss is a learning experience.

Selling is not a wind sprint, it’s a marathon. Even the best sales people face rejection every day. What sets top performers apart is that they get better on every call. They learn something on every call; they see every call as opportunity to polish their skills. This is why professional sales people ‘win’ on every call– no matter what the outcome…