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When an Opportunity is Closed - Lost, Fight for Redemption

By Darren Pierce on May 3, 2017 11:13:15 AM

We are the Champions

Growing up in Chapel Hill, NC with two parents who attended the University of North Carolina and a Mother who worked for the university, no doubt I was a “Tar Heel Born and Bred.”  In elementary and middle school, teachers would roll televisions into class during March Madness and we’d watch basketball games instead of learning.  In High School, we simply didn’t attend much class during games in March, and it was essentially an excused absence.

In other words, UNC basketball is kind of a big deal to me.  Transitioning from boyhood to manhood, I moved from idolizing the players and wanting them to win for me, to appreciating the young men and wanting them to win for themselves.  

Two years ago the NCAA College Basketball tournament was so gut-wrenching for me.  In the 2016 National Championship game, Marcus Paige (senior), hit a 3 pointer to tie the game with 4.7 seconds left.  I knew we were going to win the game in overtime, all they had to do is stop Villanova on their next possession.  We had played excellent defense for the past 3 minutes.  During the last time out, Marcus yelled during the team huddle:

One Stop! One Stop! We have all the momentum and we are going to Overtime.

But, in 4.7 seconds, the UNC Tar Heels did not get that defensive stop.  Villanova went the length of the floor and found a wide-open Kris Jenkins who hit a last-second shot.  Truthfully, I didn’t watch the shot go in, I knew as soon as he let it go because he was wide open.  The youngsters had failed to play defense when it mattered the most.  And that’s all it took to make the championship "closed - lost."  

Sick.  Sick to my stomach for those kids, especially the seniors like Marcus.  There were tears from our players.  Possibly a tear or two from me!  One of our Juniors and Marcus’ best friend on the team, Kennedy Meeks, was among those who were devastated. That type of loss will define a person.  You work so hard for so many months, and at the last second, it goes another way.  Those in SaaS Enterprise Sales can relate to this feeling, and it’s incredibly hard as adults to look inside yourself and honestly assess “What did I do wrong?”  Then map a path forward to improve.

The Tar Heels, a team predominately made up of teenagers, were able to do just that. The kids decided to band together in the off-season and work harder than ever, especially on playing better defense.  They created a group text stream titled “Redemption.”  It’s reported that Isaiah Hicks blamed himself for the Jenkins’ wide-open shot, probably not warranted, but he committed to working harder.  Joel Berry and Justin Jackson, our most prolific offensive weapons, bought into the concept of playing better defense.  And leaders Kennedy Meeks and Theo Pinson lead the charge for Redemption into this most recent season.

Then the 2017 season happened.  This campaign had ups and downs.  It was reported that this team wasn’t as talented as the 2016 team.  Offensively they struggled, but each game they improved more and more on the defensive end of the floor.

And the season winded down in the 2017 NCAA tournament, there were only 8 teams left, and our Tar Heels had to play against the most talented team in the nation - Kentucky.  The Wildcats started 3 players who would later be top 15 in the NBA draft.  But, the Tar Heels were prepared and they beat Kentucky with defense, significantly limiting all three of those players, and converting steals into points on the other end.  These kids were on their way to the final four, again, and the coveted “Redemption” was within their grasp.

In the championship game on April 3rd, 2017, the Heels were matched up against Gonzaga who was ranked #1 in the nation at defense.  This ranking seemed to provide extra motivation to the Heels, who had made defense their top priority.  They were honest about how they lost the game in 2016, worked hard to improve, and were ready to close the deal this time.
18 seconds left, Gonzaga has the ball, Tar Heels are ahead by 3 points.  

Here we go again.  It was time to find out who truly was the best team in the nation, and it was up to our defense to win it.  We needed that “One Stop” again.  Remember Marcus Paige’s best friend Kennedy Meeks?  Here’s what he did:


And after that, Gonzaga came right back and Meeks got another steal.  He didn’t get just One Stop, in fact, he got Two.  On a night when the UNC Tar Heels were bad on offense, including the best player going 0-9 shooting from 3, they won anyway.  And they won with defense.

Redemption is sweet, especially when you are honest with yourself, you commit to improvement, and you become better.  We can learn from this with our SaaS sales demos and conversations.

Sales Hack:  When an Opportunity is Closed - Lost, Fight for Redemption

If you have truly done your homework, and you have the best solution, you should be winning each demo that you perform. 

Every single demo? Yes.  Or, at least, if you want to be an elite software salesperson then you need to believe that.  This is how champions think.  Of course, the deal is not 100% within your control, but nothing ever is. You have to focus on your own performance, be brutally honest with yourself, then set a path to Redemption.

Never ever use an excuse.  Champions never use excuses.  Common excuses from losers and my responses are below:

     “They weren’t ready.”

Then why are you performing a demo?  Always have a discovery conversation first, it’s mutually beneficial to all parties and helps establish trust.  It is your job to be their shepherd during their buying process, lead the dance.  If they seem ready now then schedule a demo as a next step.  If not, earn more trust by telling them they aren’t ready, but let’s stay in touch.

     “Ultimately they couldn’t afford our product.”

Where did you go wrong in the ROI discussion?  Do you believe the ROI is there?  Then why didn’t you make them believe it too?  And again, If they have no budget, why are you demoing the product (see above)

     “They have gone dark on me.”

Ummm you’re fired.

     “He pitched it to his boss and she said no.”

Is he on my payroll?  Why is he selling our product, this is what I pay you to do.  He has no idea how to sell our product and less than 5% chance of success. Uncover who the decision-maker is on your discovery call and get them on a demo.

     “We gave them a free trial and they didn’t like the product.”

Did you clearly define success before launching the trial?

"They went with a competitor."

You need to play better defense if you want to win the championship.  

These responses sound harsh.  Some of you are thinking “I’d never work for that guy.”  Don’t worry, I’d never hire you.  But a select few of you are nodding your head, thinking about a recent deal you lost, acknowledging it was 100% your fault, and designing a path to redemption.

Enjoy the ride, Winning is fun, and … GO TAR HEELS!

Written by Darren Pierce

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