Closing a Sale – When the Unexpected Happens
Keywords – Closing a Sale – Sale Closure
Every failure is a great opportunity to learn.
But, here and there, a failure comes along that is so unexpected that it compels us to talk about it.
In other words, when we talk about transparency at Marketing Voice, we mean sharing both the good and bad things. (Especially, the bad actually).
A recent pitch of ours did not go as expected.
Actually, when going to the meeting, we thought we are covering it all.
But, as you can guess, too many holes opened up in our ship and we sank swiftly.
The Digestion Issues
Usually our preparation for a pitch is quite simple.
We analyse the potential client, we ask a few questions and try to determine the challenges.
And, then we come up with a way to tackle the said challenges.
But, this pitch was different.
Put simply, if we had been successful, it would have been our biggest deal to date. (Actually, we already have a bigger pitch in line. But, that is not the point. The potential miss is far greater here and the learnings are beyond what we expected).
The amount of time our team spent on building an AR experience, and the amount of our monthly budget that went into the pitch made me question every aspect of the process before we went in.
To provide some context, one of our team members spent a good part of a week on the AR, we build a new template for submitting the proposal in written form; the printing cost afterwards was significant itself; we bought subscriptions to Canva and 3D versions of Microsoft Office. (And, these are the things I can remember).
And, just a day before, we got our team together and simply asked them – “tell me what can go wrong”.
We had a short, mid, and long term strategy. No one could see any holes in our strategy. It was coming together beautifully and simply.
This part is borderline funny.
The Data Scraping Fun
We had been excited for the pitch for a while now.
And, as you can expect, we were telling our close connections about it.
This is when one of our close connections, who has really done well for himself, threw in the data scraping idea – a tool that can extract public information and organise it in a way that can be used to target potential customers.
But, the negotiations did not go well for the data scraping. (I will leave the details out).
And, I have a feeling that we are not liked anymore. (It’s a good thing that I know that he won’t read this).
On the light side, we had other options to get the tool done.
But, what happened to the idea during the pitch is the funny part. The idea did not stand for even a minute.
Our potential client brought up everything from privacy issues to the applicability of the idea and its compatibility with their ideal clients. And, we had to drop the idea before it could do further harm. (Straight down the drain after everything that happened in the background).
On the bright side, we received encouragement for thinking outside the box. (That’s something).
You must be waiting for the reaction. In all fairness, the meeting went for double the time that was intended to go for. (I see that as a huge positive. You don’t get someone’s time if they are not interested).
But, put simply, the potential client dropped a bomb.
At the end of the pitch, they simply started off by asking – do you think this idea will work.
My answer to every such question is – It depends. (None of us have magical answers to all questions).
And, we explained what could be done from an SEO and business point of view.
And then, the bomb was dropped.
The potential client was looking for someone who acted in a capacity bigger than digital marketing.
To start off, this part was never clear to us. And, even though, we pitch ourselves as more than digital marketers, we don’t go into a meeting and start blasting the potential clients with everything they have been doing wrong.
It is simply not the right thing to do. You cannot go into a meeting and bash everything that has been done before. As a marketer, your role is to build forward by learning from the past and the present.
But, this potential client wanted full disruption. And, given the corporate exterior, we could not have guessed this.
I kept telling myself that we will be recalled for a second round. Such decisions are not made in a single sitting.
But, deep down, I knew it was all over.
In any case, we had some added first hand experience.
One, expect the unexpected. And, map out what could go wrong beyond the exterior. We made the mistake of only covering what was wrong with the pitch itself. But, we should have focused on what could go wrong at a conceptual level too.
Two, an exterior does not tell the whole story. We expect certain clients to behave in a certain way. In reality, we should have looked into their past further and anticipated the disruptive tendencies.
Three, learn to laugh at yourself and move forward. We were punched with a short feedback email a couple of days later, telling us that the company was no longer interested. But, here we are, sharing it with everyone. There will always be more opportunities, as long as we are willing to do better.
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