In a recent post I talked about following up whether you win or lose an opportunity for new work. The idea being to learn how to improve and do even better at winning the next time. 

Following my post I heard from Ford Harding who sent me a copy of his book Rainmaking: Attract New Clients No Matter What Your Field, 2nd Edition. The book includes a chapter “When You Lose a Sale,” which includes the following suggestions in seeking feedback:

  • Encourage stark honesty, like a Dutch uncle;
  • Try to set a separate meeting or at least phone call for the debriefing (not as part of the bad news call);
  • Make sure you don’t come across as threatening or angry;
  • Compile your questions in advance;
  • Three general questions you should definitely ask:
    • “Why did you select the other firm?
    • “What did they do especially well during the sales process?
    • “Where could we have been better?”;
  • Don’t be disagreeable or argue with anything you hear;
  • Keep notes on what is said;
  • Debrief as many people as is reasonably appropriate; and
  • Send a personal (handwritten) thank you note.

Following this advice will more than likely improve your chances of winning the next time.