You can learn a lot either way. Thanks to Barbara Walters Price at Marketing U, I remembered a very important lesson I learned about business development competitions. Whether you win or lose, it is wise to conduct a post mortem to determine why. Barbara’s post led me to a post by Ford Harding on preparing for a sales presentation.  Stay with me now. 

Ford’s point was that it is “insane” to spend a lot of time working on a “leave-behind” rather than focusing on who will say what at the presentation itself.  He considers the leave-behind a waste of time. I would agree, but how he arrived at that conclusion leads me to my point.

He conducted a series of post mortems (learning that potential clients didn’t even remember what was left behind). It reminded me of how important follow up after a competition really is. Not only when you lose, but when you win as well. The latter because you may get a false idea of why you were successful. (I remember a time I found out that the competitor had done a better proposal, but sent the wrong person to the oral presentation. So, we won, but not because of our proposal. Learned a valuable lesson on that one.)   

Of course, the main reason for a post mortem is to learn what the competition did right and what your firm could do better in the future, no matter the outcome.