Sunday, March 27, 2005

I Lost. Now What?

The quick answer to what you can do after losing a bid/prospect/proposal is: Learn! Of course, the quickest answer may also be the hardest. It can feel awful to lose. We may feel hurt, rejected; somehow it must be personal.

We process our losses on the inside in much the same way we deal with death or trauma. In no particular order we experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression/sadness, and acceptance.

The first step in learning from your losses is to talk about it with people you trust to be objective. A colleague, a mentor or coach, a professional peer… someone that knows you and has experienced professional losses of their own. We talk so that we can acknowledge our feelings about the loss and feel healthy about moving forward.

The next step is to find out why. And the only place that information can come from is directly from the mouth of decision maker who made the choice no to use you or your firm. Does that sound like a conversation filled with landmines? You bet. But if you want the truth, that’s where it will come from.

If you are too emotionally attached to the decision then ask someone else to have the conversation. If you want the truth, and you want to learn, get to the source.

Over the years I’ve made a lot of post-decision calls for myself and others. The most common understanding I’ve gathered after so many conversations is that their choice WAS PERSONAL. But not in the way you’d think. Most of the time they made their choice for someone else because they had a better relationship with the other person.

That’s it. They didn’t “like you less”. They “liked someone better”.

Beyond the relationship portion of the process you may also gain insight to the materials you used, the words you spoke, your timing, team members, etc.

Failure cannot breed success until you are ready to know what happened. Then learning will begin.