Losing Can Be Good Business


It has a way of sharpening your mind…

I hate losing a business bid or RFP; yes it’s true it drives me crazy and I work to get better.

Are YOU ok with losing, or do you chalk it up to ‘experience’? Losing can help you become a powerful speaker and create even more effective communications skills!

There is so much effort (time and money) that is put into responding to a RFP; answering the request for a proposal, the math, finance, costing design, developing partnerships, arranging a line of credit, pre-qualifying… The list goes on and the process goes on for months until the critical presentation. Waiting, tense with anticipation… and you lose the bid to a competitor!

Most teams rationalize away the feelings and don’t get at the facts, or ask the difficult questions. Many will go out for a drink to commiserate and talk about how the panelists missed a great, or… Amazing, It becomes a sort of self-pity party, yuck!

What a waste of great talent, potential power and a missed learning experience!

If you’re in the game of business, whether the proposal is a film deal or building design or a power station, you will lose some and with purpose, you will win some. If you are truly committed to winning you will lose more than you win, just ask Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan! To be in the game you must commit to participate, fully, all the time.

So Where Is The Real Power?

When most people lose the value of the loss when they focus only on why they lost. Don’t spend time justifying losing ~ ‘it wasn’t our best presentation” “they pre-selected xyz company”, “we were there just for show,” I have heard them all.

The real power lies in asking NOT “why did you lose?” but “what worked?” for if you got to the last round, you must have done something “right” to get there. If you and the team cannot find the answer, ask the firm who placed you in the last round, they will know the answer. Don’t ask them “why did I lose?” ask them “why did we get into this round?” and also ask them “what can we do to improve?” By exercising your communication skill’s you will get some amazing answers.

When I failed to get an educational consulting contract, I asked the group these same questions and fortunately for me they answered. It was a detail missing from the proposal, which they assumed I would answer in the final presentation. Of course, I didn’t answer it because I assumed it was self-evident, and I lost. It was a powerful piece of information and I have never forgotten it. Assume nothing!

Losing has a way of sharpening the mind. It is an opportunity to reinforce commitment or to wallow in self-pity. Which will it be for you and your organization? If you play in the game called business, use losing to refocus and ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What Worked?
  2. What Did Not Work?
  3. What Can I Do Differently?

By asking these questions consistently after every presentation, you can overtime define the winning elements and improve your win ratio.

Knowledge is power – the ultimate power is self-knowledge – the final power is being your authentic self.

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