FSM Quick Sales Tips: Lessons from a Lost Deal

Barry Thomason, FSM Senior Account Executive
Barry Thomason, FSM Senior Account Executive

“Just like we can’t compete against the checklist and price evaluation, lower-cost providers, they can’t compete with us when we’re in the SOLUTION business.”

When you win a deal, it’s great to be able to celebrate. When you lose a deal, it’s important to take a minute and reflect on it. Barry Thomason offers his observations as a sales veteran on what you can learn from a lost deal that will help set you up for success in the future.

As sellers, it’s always great when we have a win to celebrate a little bit – do a victory lap – but it’s also important when you have a loss to take a minute and go back and reflect on it a little bit. See if you can’t see some ways you might improve even though the loss stings a little bit.

And I was just doing that very thing – I was just about to close the deal as lost. And I’ll say where we lost…and by “we,” I mean Fast Slow Motion and Salesforce together… we were co-selling on this deal and so obviously we both lost it. And as I thought about it, I wasn’t all that surprised that we lost because this was one of those deals where it just never felt very good. And it had dragged on for a few months, but the prospect was pretty engaged. When prospects engage you tend to kind of stay in the deal even if it feels a little off. And they were keeping us busy, with one of us pinging them seeing what was up.

But as I think back on it now, we were busy doing the wrong stuff. And really what the issue was in this particular case…this prospect, they were really specific in what they wanted. And by that I mean it’s almost like they had this checklist of features, and every time we were engaged with them the conversation was all about things like, “can we text from Salesforce, can our customers log into a website and enter a ticket, can you do a certain report,” just over and over again. And lots of these really specific kinds of features
and wanting to serve them, we and the AEs spent a lot of time answering these questions and kind of getting alignment with what products it was going to take to do those kind of things.

And really what was going on is their evaluation was really just a list of features and the related price that goes with those features. And as we kind of went through that exercise, you know, when it got down to the final tally, there was another, much lower cost provider that could meet the checklist but the price was lower and so we lost the deal.

We’ve all been in those kinds of situations because as we know, when you’re working with a platform like Salesforce and a professional services firm like Fast Slow Motion, we’re never going to be the low-cost provider, and there’s always somebody out there cheaper from a feature-price perspective. We need to be mindful of deals like this – get out of them when we can, or at least have reasonable expectations of winning those.

As I think back on it, when we have a better chance of winning is not when the prospect shows up with a checklist of features, but when the prospect shows up and says “I have an issue or a problem or a set of issues or problems or some kind of unrealized opportunity – something I need to do something about,” but ideally they don’t know what they need to be doing. They just know, “Hey, I’ve got these problems and I need a solution and I need somebody to help me figure that out.” It’s kind of like they know where they want to go but they don’t have any idea how to get there. And those are a lot better scenarios for us because what that does is it puts us in a position…and again “us” being Fast Slow Motion and Salesforce together…where we can offer advice, we can offer solutions and ideas from the Salesforce side.

You know, you’re able to really leverage that “Art of the Possible” that you all like to do, through product demonstrations and things like that. And we get to kind of expose the full power of the Salesforce platform and all of the Salesforce-related products, but in the context of, “You have a problem, we have the products and services to creatively solve that problem.” And it’s one of the nice things about working with Salesforce, is as long as the prospect has a realistic budget, we always have the tools to say yes to what the solution needs to be.

Where a lot of times, these lower-cost people that can meet a checklist and have a low price…that’s ALL they can do. They do very specific features, then that’s all they have and they’re out of gas. And as we know that’s never the case with us. If you’ve got budget and ideas, we can always create value out of the Salesforce platform. So in that regard, just like we can’t compete against the checklist and price evaluation, lower-cost providers, they can’t compete with us when we’re in the SOLUTION business. And it’s much better for us when we’re not being evaluated on a feature-price basis.

It’s just a good reminder, even though sometimes it’s hard when you’re in the thick of these deals, to realize – hey we’re engaged, we’re active in this deal, but we’re talking about the wrong stuff, and it’s not going to end well for us. We need to be focused on problems and potential solutions – not features and prices. And we’ll all have a lot more success that way.