Sunday, April 1, 2007

Leaving with defeat (the necessary evil)

I have never been good at losing. I have played basketball many years (and I still do) and I have never liked to lose a single game not even when practicing. Nevertheless I must confess I have lost way too many games in my life
In the corporate environment it is sometimes more difficult to know when you win or you lose. However at this time happily or unhappily (it depends how you look at it) when working for mmC Group it is very easy to know when you win an engagement in the professional services line or in the product side. In order to understand the whole picture it is important to remember that the management team has a very important stake in the company. Probably now you will understand how bad I could be taking these new types of defeats. Obviously the degree in which such feelings come out is also related to the amount of work we have put in trying to win a business, the hopes you have put on winning it and also the importance of such a deal. For example as I was joining mmC last year we lost an engagement in a CEE country. The opportunity come because I knew the buyer well and we come across the opportunity without having to spend too much time (the usual couple of meetings, 3 or 4 follow up calls and the final lobbying process to try to secure the business). The efforts were then low in terms of the amount of work we put into it, expectations were high as I did believe the personal connection was strong and medium as the business was important to us but we were already busy on the professional services side at that time. We lost it. I was really down for a couple of days, however this lost gave me the chance to contact another former colleague of mine working now for a competitor and in one of the fastest turn around times I have experienced in my life we were working in another client in less than 10 days. Defeat was over

More recently I was chasing a deal on the product side for over 6 months. I have been at the prospect country 3 or 4 times, we have developed specific documents for them that took us days, we have a very good relationship however the level of competition was high. The decision was being made while I was flying so when I landed I have a couple of sms with bad news. I remember being at the rental car desk for over 20 minutes with my head bent on the desk. I could not explain why we have lost this one, I felt impotent with no opportunity to do anything about it and I could not see where going to get such a similar deal in the short term. After 20 minutes I decided that I have to try to change the situation and found different ways to get back to the client and thanks to my good relationship with one of the buyers I was able to make our case again and 2 weeks later we managed to get the deal. I may say we were very lucky here but if you want to extract any learning from it is:
- You are going to lose business in the future, however you will never be ready for that moment
- Spend some time thinking about it, go for a run, feel bad about it, tell some close friends or colleagues about your frustration, only when you have done that you will be able to start thinking clearly again
- If there is anything you can do to still change the decision, try with no hesitation. However usually there is nothing you can do
- Defeat always open new opportunities, sometimes more short term and sometimes more mid term, but for a while you have more time and less commitment so I am sure there is something useful you can do with that time
- I will never like to lose and it will never come naturally, but it will be there in the future at some point in some form

1 comment:

  1. Your messages are getting hard and real. i liked this post. i've had professional defeats as well. they become personal. learning how to deal with them is something that i think i'll never be good at - i hate losing as well.