OK, so there are sometimes prizes for coming second. You might have raised your profile for the next opportunity, or gotten onto the next short-list automatically, or even learnt a lot for the next time, but you won’t be generating money for your organisation from this lost deal, you won’t be making work for your colleagues – in a good way.

Business-to-business sales opportunities are often more complex than we realise and in 99% of them we don’t have all the information – and I mean all the information – that we need to optimise our bid. Here are some things to think about:

– Always get your people (and yourself) to follow the same tried and trusted process for selling. If you’re not all following the same process, you don’t know where you are, you have nothing measurable or objective with which to run your business

– Always analyse and qualify your sales opportunities. Can you win the business? Can you deliver the business? Do you even want the business?

– How best should you compete for the business, and how best will your competitors compete?

– What’s the customer trying to do? What’s stopping them from doing it (something must be, or you wouldn’t have an opportunity)? How will you best help them do it, better than any other competitive option (including doing nothing)?

– What are the politics in your customer organisation? Somebody always wants somebody to win, right? Who is it? Are they important? Who do they want to win? What should you do if it’s you? What should you do if it’s not you?

– How will they decide on the business? What’s the process? What’s important to the customer? What’s important to the individuals inside the customer? How might these different wants and needs play out? How can you take advantage of that?

– What are the steps you need to take, the things you need to do, to progress and win the deal? What should you not do because they don’t progress the deal?

There’s an awful lot to do to win deals, and win them consistently, but it’s an awful lot worth doing.