Lost a Deal? Wake up and smell the roses.

outsideinview.comSorry. You lost the deal. It was a potentiall nice account. At least it would have helped you get one step closer to your product’s quarterly performance goals.

But, you lost.
It’s not because of the price.
It’s not because of the product.
You lost beause of the positioning!

You know why it’s not about the price? There are two reasons. First, if you find value in a product, you will pay the price. Think about the tens of thousands of people who stood in line, some for days, to get the iPhone 5 recently. They knew they were paying full price. They could wait for the discounts to hit the market, or their cellular plans to renew so they could receive a rebate. But, no, these people found value in the product as is, and the price isn’t in consideration.

Second, price can always be negotiated. Always. If you are shopping for a computer at a Big Box store, the price may be set there, but you can go next door to the other big box store, or go online and shop for the price. It’s negotiable. And, if you are talking about enterprise software – regardless of the size of your enterprise – I have yet to see a deal where a customer paid full retail price. I mean, never. Not in my whole career. Prices are negotiated. And, the negotiation is owned by the sales teams not the product teams.

So, why do you lose a deal? Look at the product. It’s not about the competition. True, there are 100+ competitors in the market that offer a slightly better product than you, and another 100 who offer the same product as you, and even a third group whose product isn’t quite as good. But, you didn’t lose the product because of the feature war.

You lost the deal because your product wasn’t positioned correctly in its market. It’s about how you told the potential buyer your product fills the perceived/real gap they envision to meet their problem. Often products are under such pressure to succeed that they are described to the market as a swiss army knife, when all that is needed is a fork. Or, conversely, our products are positioned as solving the problem, but when you listen to the prospect –and I mean really listen – the problem isn’t solved best by your product. You can’t risk losing the sale, interest was made by the prospect, so you fit the problem into the solution. The positioning is all wrong. Products are meant to solve a problem. If you lose the sale, it’s because you didn’t identify the problem well enough to know how – and if – you should solve it.

Looking in from the outside, if you don’t know the positioning of your product, you will try to fit your product into a sale where it doesn’t belong. When it doesn’t belong, you will lose the sale.

6 thoughts on “Lost a Deal? Wake up and smell the roses.

  1. So true. All too often Marketing gets caught up in their own reality dysfunction and create positioning that just doesn’t work.

    It could be wishful thinking.

    It could be putting lipstick on a pig (poorly defined and executed product)

    Or it could be done in a vacuum, without access to the product team.

    But it happens all too often, and it is usually a reversible error. However, in my experience, marketing usually “doubles down” on their mistake, starts blaming sales/product team/executive staff/etc for the failure.

    Thanks for writing this!

  2. Lost deals are usually a blame game. Usually the customer is blamed – but never the sales team.

    Lost deal can be opportunities
    – ask the customer why and check back to see how it is going. That competitor is probably better than you think.

    Look at qualifying, should anything have been done better. Should fewer resources been thrown on this deal?

    And yes get over it. You are not going to win 100%

  3. Ouch – product marketing caught in the middle between two titans, sales & marketing! Everyone is correct, blame goes around, but is that a productive (notice product is in that word) use of our time? Jennifer is very much spot on- regarding do your homework. It’s all pay me now or pay me a gazillion more later. We all need to play together to win this game and yes, Giles, no one ever wins everything. Some deals are blessings if not won – yes?

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