No one likes to lose. Whether it’s a job, an interview, a project or a relationship, losing is hard. Maybe some people would like to lose weight… but otherwise, we like to win, to succeed, to accomplish.
That’s why losing is so difficult. I recently experienced the loss of a prime project I was competing for. LIDA360 seemed like an ideal solution to this group’s need to re-brand the organization in a real, authentic and robust way. We understand the industry, we are well versed on the protocols and strategies needed to succeed, and the target audience is very familiar to us. Our proposal was thorough and in depth; we made sure to highlight emotional qualities to demonstrate our experience and knowledge of the subject matter and core constituencies. But the contract went to another firm. Shucks!
While disappointing, I also saw this as an opportunity to learn. What were their deciding factors? Was there something we neglected to address? Was it “chemistry” with our team? How important was price? I scheduled a phone call with the decision maker, and her input was revealing: It was a close decision (whew!), and we were a very strong contender. The winning team did a better job of articulating a set methodology that gave the client a higher comfort level. Ok, we can understand that. Using a set formula and sticking with an ironclad methodology is not our strong suite. We prefer a process that is documented, yet fluid and that was not attractive to them. I was glad to learn this information – we could have second-guessed ourselves for weeks otherwise.
Often, when we lose out on something, we forget about the power of feedback. Feedback on our strengths and our weaknesses can shine a light on areas we can improve, and can show us those areas where we are more resolve in our value. In this case, we were pleased that the feedback reflected an area we would not have been willing to go deeper on – creating more formal structure has not been key to our success with clients – and the client did a great job of identifying that formal structure was something they needed to feel comfortable. In effect, not getting this assignment was a win-win for all involved.
In addition, the client made it very clear that they would like to keep in touch for future work. While the re-branding might not be our project, they saw other opportunities where our strengths could add value to their team (where our fluid and intuitive process could help them grow and become more profitable).
Next time you lose an engagement, a job interview or a key project, try asking for feedback. Here are some of the questions we asked in this case, which might be helpful to you:
- What were the deciding criteria that helped your team choose?
- Was there something we could have highlighted better in presenting our experience and expertise?
- Did our passion for the project come through?
- Was price a determining factor?
- May we keep in touch with you?
As I’ve written about previously, feedback is a gift: It can help you identify areas to work on, and can shed light on how far (or how close) you are to your desired reputation (desired brand). To read more about feedback, check out this other blog.
Have you ever asked for feedback after a loss? What did you learn?