The Sales Game: 10 Lessons for Winning & Losing

Sales Lessons from Winning and Losing


We’ve all watched a sports game where our team was so close to winning but ended up losing in the last few minutes. This can hurt to watch as a sports fan, especially playoff games after you’d been watching your favorite team all season long.

When I think about games like this, I think about all those sales opportunities that were close to being won and then, they weren’t. Up for grabs was a sale that would make hitting goal ‘easier’ and a chance to be identified with the other top salespeople in the organization.

Here are the 10 key lessons to take from this game and apply to your life or the lives of your sales team as you / they pursue winning sales opportunities.


#1. Follow the Game Plan

Follow the game plan. Obviously, this requires that you and or your sales team have a milestone-centric sales process in place AND you have processes in place to manage execution of the sales process.


#2. Don’t Panic

Don’t panic. Things will go wrong.

  • The prospect won’t always be completely honest with you about pricing, the competition, the budget, decision makers, timeline, commitment to take action or the decision-making process.
  • Your backroom may not be able to underwrite / approve / support this type of sale in the fashion to which they are accustomed.
  • The competitor may undercut your pricing or make other concessions to keep the business.


#3. Alignment

Make sure you coach or get coaching every step of the way. It DOES NOT matter how many years you’ve been in the business. Great salespeople become great salespeople because they consistently hone their skills (practice) and they understand there are things that they don’t know.


#4. Patience

Be patient. You are not in control of the timing of the prospect’s process. You can do your best to influence timing by asking questions about the value of acting or the potential cost of waiting but, be patient and stick to your plan.


#5. Go for it!

Don’t be afraid, GO FOR IT! Get to decision makers, ask about budget, find out if the prospect will in fact leave their current provider if you solve their problem and /or provide a better solution.


#6. Stay Organized

Keep track of everything. There isn’t anything that happened in any competitive game that isn’t tracked. The information / data you get helps you make better decisions within the overall framework of your sales process. Pre and post call planning and weekly huddles are effective tracking strategies.


#7. Don’t Get Too Attached

Stay clinically detached. This is easier to do when you have a plan. Remember SW3N: Some will, some won’t, so what, NEXT!


#8. Don’t Be the Hero

Avoid feeling pressure to ‘score’ or win every sale by having a consistently full pipeline of opportunities.


#9. Block Out the Noise

Be discerning as to what you listen to from others. Such as the announcers commenting early in in the game on what a team needs to do. Lesson, take what the prospect gives you vs trying to force your game plan.


#10. Be Better than the Rest

Be better than your competition.

You may not win every sale. But you have to be in the game every time you decide to move forward in your sales process AND it is critical that you have GREAT confidence that you will win BEFORE you present your solution.  In other words, reviewing your game plan score card, you must have a 75% chance of winning before you present your solution. Anything less than that will make you vulnerable to think it overs, second guessing by the prospect, price adjustments by the competitor and loss of momentum by the buyer.


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