Did You Really Fail; Steve Sims

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All right. So I’m going to start by asking you a question. Did you really fail? Now that may be a strange question to ask someone, especially at the beginning of a podcast. But I’m going to tell you a story about a gentleman that was actually working on a software proposal that actually got me involved, and we asked that exact same question.

You see, a client that I had been coaching with for, God, maybe about eight months, we’d be working on a single project of how to identify what he was doing, what he was the solution to, and then identify who had that problem that he could get out. And he started to get some great sales meetings going on to actually push out his software program.

And he contacted me one day and he lived in Austin, Texas. And he said to me, “Hey, I’m coming into Los Angeles.” And I said, “Well, that is fantastic. How come?” He said, “The company likes what I’ve got so much, they’re actually flying me in to do the proposal.” Now I don’t know about you, but I have never, ever, ever heard of a company actually flying someone in to have you pitch them. That’s extraordinary.

So I said to him, “Well, congratulations.” He said, “Yeah, but I need something from you.” And I said, “What?” He said, “I want you to be in the meeting.” I said, “How am I going to be in the meeting?” He said, “I don’t know. We’re going to find a way of you actually being in the meeting, because I want critique on how I do these.” I said, “What am I going to be? The fugly secretary? What am I going to do, sit there with a pencil and a pad?” And he turned to me, he said, “No, no, no. You could be my security guard.” I said, “When was the last time a software guy needed a security guard?”

So we came up with this bologna story that I was their driver and was just going to sit in and take notes, because it was my dream to suddenly be doing this. And that’s what it was. We went along, I picked him up and we drove to the event. And we walked into the meeting, and he had all of the directors there and there was some secretaries and some assistants. But predominantly all the decision-makers were in that room, which was pretty extraordinary. And he sat me in the corner and then went in to do his proposal.

Now I was watching their body language, how engaged they were, were they paying attention, were they quickly trying to check their phone. Were they making notes on what they make in for dinner that night. And no, none of this was going on. He had them. He was good, he was slick. He had them captured, engaged. And they were nodding and yessing and giggling and ah, in all of the right times when they should have been.

It was beautiful. It was a masterclass in how to give a proposal. Until it wasn’t. And again, shockingly, they actually turned around and said, “Thank you so much for taking the time to come over, but we won’t be proceeding.” Now, usually what happens is you go home thinking you’ve got the deal, only for them to avoid a couple of emails and phone calls. And then eventually you get the idea that they weren’t interested, they just didn’t have the balls to actually tell you this. These people upfront actually said, “No, we’re not proceeding.” Which saves them a lot of time, it was actually magical for him.

It was a masterclass in how to give a proposal. Until it wasn't. Click To Tweet

But of course, I’m saying, because he traveled over from Austin, thinking he was going to get this deal with a pretty substantial financial company, and he didn’t. And we got into the car and he went off on it. He had a one-way ticket to the pity party. And he was there moaning and crying, complaining, whining, bitching, all of the stuff about how things went wrong. Oh, what are all horrible day and what a waste of time, and all this was going on. And it carried on for probably about 10 minutes. And I let him go until he started wearing himself out. Now having pity for a start wears you out. It tires you down, and he suddenly started to lose all the air in his balloon.

And I said to him, “Okay, are we done now? Are we ready?” And he was like, “Ready?” I said, “Yeah, ready to analyze where you lost it.” And he said, “This was a terrible …” I said, “No, no, no. There was one element.” I said, “Let’s be blunt. You actually got flown from Austin, Texas to Los Angeles. Someone else paid you to be there to pitch them. That doesn’t happen. You must have been really good on the sales calls and with the proposals to be able to even get that far.”

“And then on top of that, you in there, you didn’t have secretaries and middle management, you had decision-makers.” The chairman at one point, he walked in to say hi to him. He had everyone that he needed in that room. “And you had them until at one moment you didn’t. We need to find out where that moment was.” He was like, “Okay. So what do you suggest?” I said, “It’s very easy. You phone them up and ask them.”

Now how many times have you ever gone in for a deal gone in for a project, gone in for a business opportunity, lost it and then called them back up to find out why. You don’t. No, it never happens. You just get all bitter about it, never want to talk about it and hate the opportunity, all of that kind of palava. The bottom line is, I told him, “Phone up the person that arranged the meeting,” it was a lady. And I said, “Speak to her and say, ‘Hey, I respect your decision not to proceed, but for in order for me to be able to proceed in other communication and conversations, I just wanted to ask you one question. Where did I lose you?'”

And so he did that. That afternoon he contacted her, thanked her, asked her that question and wonderfully, rather than being danced around with a bunch of palava. “It wasn’t the right time. Wasn’t sure.” She told him, “It was the payment plan.” Right at the end, just as he was closing down and getting all the nods he needed, he dictated what the payment schedule was for his program.

Now companies run like their own little planet. They’ve got their own timeframes on budgets, their own governments, their own decisions. If you want to do marketing when it’s an educational budget time, they are going to ignore you. If you want to do education during a marketing period, they’re going to ignore you. The bottom line to it is, these things have structures, and he lost them because he tried to reinforce his timetable into theirs. He learned something.

Now he still went back to Austin a little bit piffy, but he had learned something. He had got educated from that moment. And understand, we get educated when things go wrong. We don’t get educated when everything’s going brilliantly, there’s no growth there. It’s when shit happens, we go, “Eh, I should have done that. Or I could’ve done that.” Those are the magic moments, those are the moments of rejoice. Your greatest growth comes from the mistakes and screw ups, not from the success and balloons.

Now he went back and he actually communicated with another company. And now they didn’t pay to fly him out. But when he did go and do the proposal, again from one I hear, he had them captured. He was good, he was engaged. Everything was going great. And right up until the point where he lost the last one, he turned around and said, “I want to go over with you with a payment plan.” Now because he knew that he had slipped up on this one on the last time, he suddenly saw their eyes glass over. And he said, “Let me make it easier. We will construct a payment plan that works best for you and your budgetary requirements. Is that acceptable?” They nodded and he had them back.

In fact, he got the deal and he contacted me, and he told me it was this one element. He said, “All the way through, I was just waiting for this point.” He said, “And I was just about to lose.” He said, “I could see them start to lull and move in the chair as I stated that. And then they all came back and relaxed and I got the deal.” And you know something else? Because he had had the gall to actually phone up the girl that had refused them on the first deal, and said, “Hey, I respect your decision, but I want to know where it went wrong. Thank you so much for helping me be better.” She actually remembered that guy. She left the company six months later, went and worked for a competitor, brought him in and he sold the proposal to them, based on a payment plan that worked best for their budgetary requirements.

You see, when has anything gone wrong for you, and then you confronted it to find out why. You don’t. Usually you run away going “Oh, I hated that, that didn’t work. Everything went wrong.” No everything doesn’t go wrong, one thing goes wrong. One element turned it from great to terrible. But you know the funny thing is? Find those and rejoice those. Because those are the education that are going to help you quadruple where you need to get. Can you imagine if every deal you went on was a successful homerun? Where’s your growth? And you’re going to go, “Well, if I got every single deal I went for.”

When has anything gone wrong for you, and then you confronted it to find out why? Click To Tweet

But what if there was a deal and you were aiming too low? You’ll get in every deal you go for when it’s a 10 grand commission, but what about the million dollar commission deals that you’re too terrified to go after? It’s the mistakes that hold the gold. I want you to confront, when anything goes wrong, no matter what it is, confront and ask why. “I respect the decision that you said no, but how could I have been better? And what could’ve possibly happen? I’m not going to try and you re-engage you. I just want to be better than I possibly can.”

And ask the question. He did, and he now got to change his perspective on how he failed. Failure is the education that we need on what not to do, but gives us the information we need to be able to change to do what we need to do, and to get the deal. Sounds like a tongue-twister, but rejoice every time you fail, and work hard enough. Do you actually fail? Fail often and fail up.


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