Talking about the “wins” in business is par for the course. We put the best testimonials up on our sites. We use our best or largest clients as examples of the kind of business we do. We name-drop in certain circles. We celebrate the sales and marketing successes every chance we get. There is no doubt that the closed deals are what drive business, keep the lights on, and help maintain momentum to generate more and more growth.
But what happens with those misses? Where do the lost opportunities go? What are they even good for? It seems almost taboo to discuss bombing a deal or choking at a meeting or not getting around an objection, yet all of those are just as important to your growth as the wins. Maybe even more so.
Real growth hurts. From cutting your teeth literally to figuratively, the failures almost always come before the successes.
Once we start getting the successes, often times the losses are ignored or excused away. We tell ourselves that account we were chasing and crossing our fingers for just wasn’t the right fit for us (after they rejected our offer). That’s a kind of self-deception that can stunt growth. By confronting our lost opportunities, we can not only face our loss but also face ourselves and say, “Okay, what can we do better next time?”
Using losses to learn, rather than sweeping them under the rug never to be discussed or examined again, leads to a kind of introspective discussion that is necessary for real growth. You can evaluate your approach, your collateral, your brand, your pricing, your presentation, your team, and the list goes on and on, to see what didn’t work. Was it too aggressive? Too convoluted? Too small in scale? Too high in price? Too cheap to trust? Too sterile to warm up to? Too familiar to be perceived as professional? Not flashy enough? Too flashy? By looking at every missed opportunity, every win that your competitor gets, you’ll discover how you can do things better next time.
We don’t learn from winning. We get comfortable, confident, and sometimes cocky. We learn from losing. We are uncomfortable, reflective, and humbled. Then we figure out why we didn’t win and do better next time.
You don’t have to like missing opportunities, but you will have to address them. Turn lost opportunities into new chances.