How to bounce back from losing a massive deal

Startup for Startup

04/03/2021

Darya:             Hi everyone, before we start the episode I just wanted to let you know that we have a brand new global website with podcast episodes, videos from events and interviews all in English. So if you’re interested in finding more relevant content for you visit startupforstartup.com and select the ‘worldwide’ option. Enjoy.

Name:             Hi everyone. You’ve reach Startup for Startup, the podcast in which we, at Monday.com, openly share knowledge, experience and actionable insights amongst startups.

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Name:             Many of Monday.com’s users join a platform without a salesperson being involved. With a company’s changing strategy and the decision to focus more on enterprise accounts the need for a salesperson rose. Each sales deal requires not just an Account Manager to be involved, but an entire team of account executives, security and private experts, legal counsels and more. So when a deal closes we all take a moment to celebrate their accomplishments and the hard work they did to get there. This week we’re talking to Rick and Graham, Senior Enterprise Account Managers at Monday.com directly from our office in New York. Rick and Graham tell the story of two sales deals, with a potential to add more than a hundred thousand K ($100 000-00) each to the company’s annual recurring revenues which after significant work, were simply cancelled. How do you rise up after falling and how do they get a feeling of a closure even on deals they did not complete. Hey Rick, hey Graham, thanks for being here today.

Rick:               Thanks for having us.

Graham:          Great to be here.

Name:             So every company has a different way to celebrate success. Rick, can you tell a bit more about the way we celebrate success of winning a deal at Monday?

Rick:               So when we win a big deal, depending on the size of the deal, let’s say if it’s under twenty-five thousand dollars ($25 000-00) that their face gets projected throughout these screens with some confetti and everyone sees it and claps for everybody.

Name:             And I think there’s a gong.

Rick:               That’s so. Any deal that’s over twenty-five thousand ($25 000-00), this is where it really gets exciting, in addition to that massive celebration on the screens where the deal is being projected they also get to hit the [audial cue] twenty-five K ($25 000-00) gong, but obviously if it’s over twenty-five K ($25 000-00), fifty K ($50 000-00) would be two gongs and every twenty-five K ($25 000-00) would be another gong after that. So it gets really exciting. We film it and then we shoot it out on our slack channel for everyone to see and celebrate and congratulate the person who closed the deal.

Graham:          Imagine you have like a bull’s-eye in front of you, it’s a hundred yards away, you have a bow and arrow and then in, lined up right down to the bull’s-eye you have tires that are swinging; some are swinging in the same timing, some are out of timing and you need to time that absolutely perfectly to shoot an arrow through. Now let’s say you land the arrow, and like Rick said it’s twenty-five thousand dollars ($25 000-00) or more, there’s a massive celebration in the company, lights everywhere, your face is everywhere, there’s a huge sound, it feels like you are Thor, you just came down to earth through the bifrost, there’s like …

Rick:               [laughs]

Graham:          big noise. You get to hit the gong and it’s a massive rush of dopamine. So that’s what a deal kind of feels like to (00:03:13).

Name:             How does it feel like, Rick?

Rick:               I can second what Graham just said. It’s …

Name:             [laughs] the entire, the whole …

Rick:               it’s yeah, I do feel a little differently with that feeling of dopamine for many reasons. My level of dopamine comes in a different way. There’s this ginormous goal that I’m focused on and there are these baby steps to get there, and when I close one deal, and this could be pessimistic in a way, but when I close one deal it’s more so like I’m thankful that I got there, but there’s like this long road to go and I don’t want to celebrate too, too fast, but at the same time I’m super happy that I closed that deal, so it’s like a lot of these mini building blocks leading towards closing that deal.

Name:            Something else that I hear when you talk about the celebration and the way we do it is a moment of recognition.

Rick:               Sure.

Name:             So most of the time you’re working on your things and you might have friends or peers or someone to consult with, but this is like the one moment when everyone in the team realizes that you just achieved something.

Rick:               Sure.

Graham:          Exactly, it’s like…

Name:             Is that, talk about that.

Graham:          it’s pretty binary in that if you don’t achieve anything there’s nothing, if you do there’s a not of attention, for sure, it’s a lot of all or nothing, right, you’ve got all your focus on these big deals that you’re closing, medium sized deals, whatever they might be, but if they don’t close it’s on to the next one, and quickly.

Name:             Before you go that path, when someone else is closing a deal, when you hear the gong, when you see someone’s face is on the board, dashboard, what does it make you feel? What do you do?

Rick:               When somebody closes a deal it’s super, super exciting, not just for that person, but for everyone within the company, within the office that’s watching that person close that deal, because they’re bringing a large portion of revenue that is going towards the bigger picture, that revenue is called ARR which is annual recurring revenue. Annual recurring revenue is new revenue that’s being brought in that year to the company. We have goals, so it starts with, from the top down, so from the investors, we promise the investors, the CEO and CFO promise the investors that we could reach these numbers, we project them, then it goes down to the Head of Sales. Head of Sales, Yoni, excuse me, the CFO and the CEO say hey, we need to hit these numbers to the Head of Sales. Head of Sales says OK, and they start to break that down out into a hiring plant and go down to the Directors who say look, we need to hit these numbers, these are the numbers that we have and that breaks down into the Managers and then to the Reps and so on and everybody kind of has their role in that.

Graham:          Agreed. I means it’s, it’s like, I like to use analogies, it is like playing for a championship team, like basketball and let’s say Le Bron is on your team and Le Bron does something amazing like a dunk of some sorts, like of course you’re like man, I need to do something that’s crazy too, but like thank God they’re scoring points for us, this is great, you know, like we’re, oh, we’re winning, everything’s good.

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Name:             So I think we painted a very clear picture of what happens when we succeed, when you win a deal. What happens when you don’t?

Rick:               We have, in any given month we have a certain level, certain number of accounts that we can close. There’s a percentage to them and they’re never marked at a hundred percent, the probability of them closing.

Name:             Are these users already? What are those?

Rick:               Sure, so it’s different. If you’re speaking as an Account Executive or as an Account Manager it’s very different. Graham and myself are both Account Managers where we’re more nurturing accounts that are already there. Now that doesn’t mean that the users are already in the system, it means that the company, at some level, is actually using the platform. So as Account Managers we are again nurturing those accounts and bringing in new leads, new lead generation from that. Then, based off conversations and interactions that we have, we’re generating this movement, these ideas, this excitement in, about the platform that is going to create a new level of opportunity. The size of that depends on the team size, the new department size, the division size, whatever that might be. Now once we’re able to figure out exactly what that number is, let’s just do a number out there, fifty (50) user enterprise plan. Now that’s, we have different plans within our company, Enterprise would be the highest plan that we possibly have, so that fifty (50) user plan would now be the opportunity, but we first need to figure out can we close it this month, is there something that we’re actually going to be closing soon. So when you don’t close a deal and all this dawn and effort is put into it you lose a lot of things. There’s a lot of things involved with that, one of those things are what is the impact of that deal. Fifty (50) user Enterprise deal within our company is very different than, you know, a, you know, twelve hundred (1200) user Enterprise deal. So when you talk about impact, the trek and the path of like a professional you think if I bring in this deal this is going to impact my professional career, but it’s also going to impact the ARR on such a drastic level that it’s bringing value from all ends. So you’re securing yourself on a personal side, but you’re also securing the company and their goals.

Name:             What happens when you lose a deal, Graham?

Graham:          By and large it’s similar to what Rick described, but there are different types of losses, right, so there’s a loss where it feels like a door just got slammed in your face and you know that OK, cool, this is done, but then there’s the type of loss that happens over time, it’s almost like a slow moving car crash, right, so you’re climbing up some cliff side and like little by little the rocks are giving way underneath your hands, you, eventually you’re grasping for air, there’s nothing else there. So it’s two different kind of feelings. They require two different methods of response.

Name:             And the reason we are sitting here and let’s just bring the bottom line first, both of you lost big deals after nurturing them for a long time and believing that they were going to turn into deals, right?

Rick:               Sure.

Graham:          Accurate.

Name:             OK.

Rick:               Long and painful.

Name:             We give so much recognition and space and room and get so much support when we get things right, but there’s no gong when you lose something and you work just as equally hard to make it happen. So I think the first reason you were doing, what we’re doing today is just to stop for a moment and talk about things that are usually not being talked, right?

Rick:               Sure.

Graham:          Accurate.

Name:             OK, so give us context.

Rick:               I was working on a twelve hundred (1200) user city-wide agreement. They, it was the City Manager’s office within that city and they very much wanted to move forward. We lost that deal. It took about seven (7) months to come up with that answer. That was the end of that story.

Name:             And in dollars?

Rick:               In dollars, that was a hundred and seventy-eight thousand dollars                          ($178 000-00).

Graham:          I have two deals, one is with quite a famous newspaper, the other is with a very large consulting company. Both of them eventually came in. One came in much lower than expected, but the catch is they came in in the wrong quarter, so we have certain plans that we have to stick to, it’s …

Name:             What do you mean?

Graham:          So it’s broken down, just like Rick mentioned, it’s set at the top, we have an annual goal. So there are certain annual goals and then they’ll break it down monthly, and in the sales team, especially for people in our position as Account Managers we are judged for the most part quarterly, so every three (3) months, and we run on a calendar basis, so January to March and you can figure it out from there, we are judged for our sales performance. I am the type of person that I like to do ‘just in time’ manufacturing, if you know what that is. I like to have the product land right when it’s supposed to. I don’t really do things ahead of schedule. So I had these two deals coming in end of the quarter, there were super sure things, but there were not really sure things, so all in all I missed target by about a hundred thousand dollars ($100 000-00), because these two deals got pushed.

Name:             And that, when did that happen?

Graham:          The month is September 2019, it’s the end of Q3 and everything is going seemingly well, the beginning of this quarter I just came back from vacation, I have the deals lined up that are going to get me to target, I don’t have any problems. Deal number one, the newspaper, I was working with them since May of 2019, so all in all at the end of that time period it’s about five (5) months we’re currently deep in legal negotiation, no (00:12:02)

Name:             What does it mean?

Graham:          So we …

Name:             That you have more people involved in this than just yourself? 

Graham:          Yes, so I have the, our amazing legal team Adva and Shiran, mostly Adva, shout out to Adva, in crafting an MSA with the client and it is perhaps one of the most difficult procurement teams that I have ever worked with here at Monday and, for context, you probably couldn’t name a company that we don’t do business with.

Name:             So the process was challenging already.

Graham:          It was already challenging, people are putting in work, I’m getting repeated questions about hey, is this coming in or is it not coming in, I’m assuring people, it’s almost at a point where I’m annoyed that I’m even getting this question, because of course it’s coming in, right. Now on top of that I went to Tel Aviv for a week and, you know, our main office is in Tel Aviv, so I’m walking over to the main office, but I get there and Andy, who is one of our main trainers, starts telling people: “Hey, this is the big man, he’s going to get our gong while he’s here too.” So there’s like this added level of pressure that I need to perform for everybody while I’m there. It feels like sand is like slipping from my fingers, you know, and long story short deal one with the newspaper doesn’t come in …

Name:             At all.

Graham:          Well it doesn’t come in that quarter. They refuse to finalize and they refuse to set up any meetings until the next month, for whatever reason, this is after they secured a huge concession and negotiation for us to make this happen. It gets pushed. That wrecks my quarter right after that.

Name:             When do you realize it’s not going to happen?

Graham:          I realized that it is not going to happen in about week three of September which means I have like a week and a half to go until the end of the quarter and I realized that because we’re having problems scheduling the legal team’s meeting, they’re not feeling a lot of pressure on this, it turns out the, they have a platform that they’re actually deprecating to use us and they don’t have a renewal until like late in October, so they don’t actually feel any pressure to get this done. I have no negative leverage, I like to have positive and negative leverage in a deal, meaning if you do this for me I’ll give you this …

Name:             Uh hmm.

Graham:          If you don’t this is the pain that you’re going to feel, right.

Name:             Hey listen, if I’m like doing pilates in one place and I have two more months to go and I’m paying for them I’m not going to start …

Graham:          There you go.

Name:             practicing at your yoga, new place before I finish my, I mean economically that’s not the right thing to do even if you try to make me think that it is, then I don’t trust you anymore, you know.

Graham:          There you go, right. So …

[laughs]

Name:             That’s just me trying to understand what you’re talking about, but really this is like …

Graham:          Exactly, so it’s, it’s just dollars and cents.

Name:             like this is a very clear reason why they’re not …

Graham:          Yes, yes.

Name:             cooperating.

Graham:         Exactly, but that was not obvious to me until that point in time. So the deal at that point died or got pushed really, because of other financial concerns that they had that were not apparent to me, so my forecast was incorrect to Eran, who is my Manager, and then clearly to Yoni, who is Eran’s Manager and then that would mean Yoni’s forecast was incorrect to Eran and Roy and the board and everybody else.

Name:             How do you communicate that?

Graham:          You have to think about it from a couple of perspectives, right. So it’s stakeholder management. One; internal stakeholders. So Monday.com stakeholders, who do I need to give information on this and how much information do I need to give to them for them to feel comfortable that one, we’re on top of, two, Graham hasn’t gone off the deep end and this is an anomaly and then beyond that the external stakeholder management, so OK, we couldn’t get the deal done this month, what have we already promised these guys, can I go back on some of these things, because they were time borne promises or am I committed, how do I make sure that the deal is progressing even though we didn’t get it done this month. So you identify your stakeholders and you get to work.

Name:             Rick, in your case it was more of a total loss as we say when you have a car accident and you can’t save the car. [laughs]

Rick:               Yeah, yeah, to add a little bit more context to it, we did get some money from it. I started working this deal back in May of 2019, built a really great report with this individual. We engaged in a tremendous amount of conversations, there must have been, you know, tons of demo, demonstrations, exploratory calls, discovery calls, hopping on the call with IT, all these different departments and, you know, so there were these steps that we were taking to push the lever forward, to constantly push. All the signs were looking good. First they came in wanting fifty (50), then they wanted five hundred (500) seats and then I convinced them we could do a lot more than just project management, we could do a lot more than just task management, we’re not just a team collaboration tool, we have all of these avenues that you could actually go to manage your company, your city, and this excited them, you know, this really, it proved to them that they could actually have one single source of truth to use to organize their day to day. So moving forward that eventually went up to a twelve hundred (1200) user city-wide potential and that’s where it was for many, many months. Now there were a lot of avenues that we needed to go to and a lot of convincing that we needed to do as far as security was concerned to make sure that we reached a certain level of security, that the site was safe, we had to make sure that the terms and how we communicate our terms of service were all the same, were agreed to by the customer and all of those things were being worked on. Everything was looking good at this point. Month after month after month our legal team was involved, we had two people from our legal department that was putting in resources, we had multiple people within our office that was like putting in a tremendous amount of work. I was spending hours upon hours on his calls, on this particular client working on this, and at the end of the day at the seventh month mark there was just one aspect about our terms that made it a no go, but, leaving out a little bit of context, about a month and a half prior to that they sent me an email saying we’re so happy with this, the relationship that we built, you did this phenomenal job, we’re really super, super pumped and it was a win. Everyone was expecting this deal to come in and if we were to calculate the amount of hours that everyone spent on it I mean we’re looking at like three hundred (300), I don’t know off the top of my head, but it was a significant amount of time that was spent from resources and if you were to times that by the amount of money that people are getting paid it’s a significant loss. So we get the email, hey, we would very much like to move forward with the twelve hundred (1200) seats, super pumped about it, let’s get things underway, we just want to make, just look at your terms a little bit more and then, and just kind of double check a couple of things. I said OK, cool, and that’s when last minute hey, what’s this section within your terms of service? What does this mean? And it created a, like an open door of problems and it went back and forth, but at the end of the day we lost the deal. Nobody saw it coming. It was very, it was, it blindsided all of us. Now when we’re supposed to have this huge celebration, the big gong hit, and there was going to be five (5) gongs or six (6) gongs and I think it was going to be the third, third or fourth largest deal brought into the company, it was a big loss. It was a big loss, and that gong hit never, those gong hits never happened and in addition to that we never were able, usually during the gong celebration we give our thanks and say I want to thank, you know, Adva and Leah in our legal department and I want to thank, you know, Eran, my, you know, Director of Sales, and I want to thank this person and that person and thank Graham for all the advice that he gave me along the way and all these different things, and we didn’t have a chance to actually invite, to thank anybody. It just left this feeling of, like, this lack of closure, in addition to losing the deal it’s this weird empty, feeling and it’s really hard to describe.

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Name:             Looking back what do you tell yourself about that? Anything you could have done differently?

Graham:          So there’re two aspects to it, right, like one, could I have gotten more information in qualification from these guys? Sure, you know, but I could also ask them questions about the type of shoes that they like, you know, like there are so many questions that you can ask, you know, and you don’t know if this piece of information is going to become relevant later, like, hey, you remember you told me you like running or if I didn’t ask you if you liked running I wouldn’t have known that, right, so there are some, there are known knowns and there are known unknowns. Surely I could have asked more questions and gotten more information, especially if the client wants to be as transparent as possible, because maybe it’s useful to them from a negotiation perspective to get certain concessions; otherwise what I think about more than anything else is consistently applying the repeatable process, so there will be times where you kind of feel like you’re in a rhythm and you don’t like go through your usual checklist and you’re, you are just breezing through and everything is flowing and you’re in a zone, you’re in a flow state and you need to kind of step back and just take stock of have I done this checklist of items that I need to do. So there, there is both sides of it. Yes, there’s more that could have been done and that making sure that I’ve done my checklist and then also sometimes the client is just playing with the ace up their sleeve and they just wait for the last moment to reveal the ace, you know.

Rick:               Yeah, I would, I would second that as well. There’s always more information that you can get. As sales people we’re always on, you know, think about the deal or the call after we had it and OK, we probably could have got more information, but then when you have such a long deal you’re having so many conversations you feel like it’s ongoing, it’s this constant reassurance that this deal is happening. What I would have liked to have done better as we were getting, you know, to the longer period of four (4) to five (5) months I would’ve probably wanted to be a little bit more aggressive, because I built that respect, I built the relationships, the ability to say look, like we’ve done this, we’ve done that, this is extending way too long, what’s happening here, and I think because I did not do that it allowed the deal to last much longer and find out the bad news later on in the process. If I was to push four (4) or five (5) months in I would have been able to get a little bit of information back much sooner, potentially …

Name:             Gaining what with that? Maybe getting a mail earlier?

Rick:               Like for, for example, so we have to send some information for them to review, so the information was sent, right, so on my part I did my part and then maybe like a week later I follow up, hey, did you receive this? Yeah, they got it, but then after that it’s in their hands, but how many times can you follow up on a particular document to make sure that they read it, reviewed it and everything is AOK.

Name:             Or asking it differently, is following up enough, you know, like sometimes you know how we are like oh, I’m doing my role here.

Rick:               Yeah.

Name:             I’m sending that question again. What’s the (00:23:36), what’s the moment when you say hey, this is not the right way to make them move forward and whose responsibility is it now to, like where are your limits in this, you know.

Rick:               When losing a deal like this you start to have those thoughts, like where, where was it, where was that pivot that I could have had that could have brought this in the right direction, you know, maybe it was reaching out to somebody else, the one who had the most urgency in saying hey, this is a really important part of this process, can you follow up with this person to make sure that they did, and we did a little bit of that by the way, you know, we push with multiple people to make sure that everyone was kind of like dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s. So there’s different losses.  Generally you make a loss, then OK we don’t want to move forward, but they already committed verbally, like everything was, we decided, the city decided that we want to move forward, like we want to do this.

Name:             It’s so interesting that even in retro when you’re reflecting now you’re still talking about how you could’ve won the deal and I’m like thinking differently; you could have saved time and invested it somewhere else, and it’s just very different goals.

Rick:               Yeah.

Name:             And …

Rick:               I’m in agreement with you, though. I think that, you know, being more aggressive or being more assertive on the call you, if you were to find out two months late, uh, earlier then yes, you could invest it, you could have invested that time somewhere else. It’s true.

Graham:          It is interesting too, an interesting dynamic, though is when you get so deep with like a client, you almost feel like you work there, you know, because you’re so involved in like what it is they’re doing. Like I’m sure it is the same with Rick, but even with my client that got pushed to October it’s like you’ve helped build out a workflow, you know, you almost know the company better than your champions, context, for that, right. When we’re talking about deals and Rick is talking about like this went on seven (7) months, it’s not Rick sending people messages like hey, are you ready to buy, right, it’s Rick hopping on a call with somebody and being like, OK, tell me about your day. This is how we’re going to set up Monday to help you and kind of making sure that they feel comfortable, they are getting the most out of the system, they know that this could work, you’re basically, in some kind of transactional sense you’re putting capital in the bank for you to withdraw it later to ask them to help you to close out a deal, whether it’s like introduce me to X person or whatever, or you’re just making sure that they know the system works and then while they’re doing that you develop almost work relationships with this person and you’re like, you know, why won’t Tom just give Angie the document she needs, you know, you’re like really involved in the client and these activities that, while at the same time, I know in my case, I’m not necessarily pushing the deal forward from like a, you know, have you reviewed legal, have you done X,Y, Z. It definitely feels like you’re adding value to the client on a daily basis by helping them with these different items. So it’s not always obvious the actions that you’re doing right now are not going to be a part of the five (5) to ten (10) actions that help you to close the deal, but it feels very important at the time; I know in my case at least.

Rick:               Yeah, and to add on top of that when you’re building these relationships you are, your agenda is the same, you know. Your agenda is they already said that this is what they want to do and now we’re both heading in that direction. The selling aspect of it is done. Myself within, everybody, and everybody else within this company became super close. We have each other’s cell numbers. I mean we are, the relationship is so, so strong. I mean they sent an email to the CEO and the CFO of our company after the deal, because they felt so bad, they found the information on either Linkedin or something, so it was, it’s wild.

Name:             After all this, Rick, you guys are leading other people within the company that are also trying to close deals and are also handling the same levels of success or pain. How does this affect the work between you?

Rick:               Our Director, he oversees a large amount of people. When we first started it was a smaller amount of people, but we’re growing rapidly and those teams expand. So the way the Enterprise team works within our company is within pods. Pods starts with a Account Executive or multiple Account Executives, they’ll have an Account Manager or multiple Account Managers and then they have a Enterprise Customer Success Manager and then they have somebody that oversees it. So Eran was the Director that oversaw the pod, but the pod multiplied, turned into two pods and then three pods and so on, so Eran no longer had the bandwidth to monitor and manage all of these pods successfully and looked for new leadership. Graham and I became pod leaders and we were able to take on that responsibility to manage the pods.

Name:             That only adds pressure too.

Rick:               Yeah, it added a significant amount of pressure. I mean if you think about it we were peers and now we’re having responsibilities in helping reach the AR goal for our pod. Being a successful salesperson is one thing, but mastering your own process and then being able to teach it to other people to help them be successful and also we have a lot of talented people on our team, so we’re learning from them as well and it’s just constant give and take, but there is a lot of added pressure, right, because your one responsibility, which is to bring in revenue and reach your goals, and then now we have this new added responsibility to make sure that everyone within our pod also reaches their goals.

Name:             And now you lose a deal.

Rick:               In addition to losing the deal we’re also losing a significant amount of time, because we’re spending time, one on ones, we’re doing interviews, we’re, our time is being spread so thin and now we’re spending less time on these types of deals. I feel like we’ve both done it successfully, thankfully, but there’s a lot of stress added and a lot of pressure added to this.

Name:             Did you communicate to them the loss?

Rick:               It’s hard to communicate it to your team, because you’re supposed to be a leader, right, and you have to be strong and, you know, put your professional cap on and come in, but it definitely affected me, for sure. I didn’t think it affected me as much as it did, but I definitely think it took a toll. There was this lack of closure where this big deal that everyone just worked so hard on together just like fell flat.

Name:             So how do you tell people that you lost a deal? I mean if you don’t tell them …

Rick:               Oh, no … [laughs]

Name:             they’re jut going to look at you and no, what’s up, what’s, how’s the City doing and so …

Rick:               “Well, Eran, you want to go for a walk?” [laughs] We did, we went for a walk and we were already like, you know like when you think you’re about to break up with your girlfriend or boyfriend or whatever and you’re kind of leading up to it and you’re in agony and you feel that pain for a certain amount of time, but you already got over it, like you’re, it was like one of those things where it’s like we’ve been dealing with this pain for so long and that we’re ready to move on, and we both …

Name:             So was there a relief?

Rick:               It, not really. It wasn’t. There was this lack of closure. It was this thing where it’s almost like I felt tension with my Manager, with Eran. I felt tension in the office, I felt like it, I felt disappointed, I felt like I failed in a sense, like what could I have done to actually do this, but all in all like I knew that I closed this deal from the sales perspective, but it still felt bad and I spent a week, maybe even more, thinking about why does it still feel so bad, like get over it, and I realized it’s because I’d been envisioning this gong speech, the victory speech, that I was going to thank Adva, the legal person, and thank my Director and thank the Head of Sales and thank all the people that helped me and everyone else that was involved and it was going to be this big victory, it was in December when we had our huge push towards the end of the year and it was going to help us, you know, reach our goals there and that just didn’t happen. I never had the chance to thank everybody and no-one really knew, besides me and Eran, like why this deal didn’t close. 

Name:             So how did you reach a closure?

Rick:               So I decided, it was one night at home on a Friday, I was making pizza with my wife, from scratch by the way, apparently my wife makes really good pizza …

Name:             [laughs]

Rick:               Who knew? And I was sitting there and like it just hit me like we didn’t speak about this as a company. This was a company effort and they acted like it never happened, which is what we always do, it’s not like a bad thing, we, it’s what you do, you lose a deal you move on, right, but I said I have to, I’ve got to write something, like I need to communicate a message in some way that is received, makes people feel appreciated and let’s them know exactly why we lost it, so we can move on and learn from this. So I formulated this message, it was almost like I had the words already here, we just had to put it on paper. I wasn’t going to send it, but I really believed in it and I really felt like it was the best thing to do and it was a positive thing to do and I sent it. People left and right were saying oh, I got it, I relate to this, I so feel this, it’s like it exploded with empathy, and in that message I was able to thank everyone involved.

[audial cue]

Name:             These big losses, what did they change for you?

Graham:          What it really changed for the most part is occasionally I’ll go and do a ten minute meditation session at lunch time, like today. For example I went and just had like a little session, I use an app, mostly to keep me level throughout the day. I’m still probably going to try to take advice in, distill it, see if it’s relevant for the deal that I’m currently operating in, but its good to have a lot of attention from very smart people on what’s going on. If you lose anything or you, you’re missing some vital piece it’s going to be pointed out to you, so I like that. Beyond that having a process, sticking to it, not working so much off of motivation and working much more off a habit, like these are the things that I do, not because I feel like I’m behind and I need to do it, it’s just the things that I do. I took up meditation, because it was a frustrating experience, right. Impotent rage is the worst thing on the planet, right, so it’s like there’s nothing that you can do about this thing, what you can do is try to manage your emotions, you can try to manage how you respond, you don’t want to react, you want to respond to things, right. So having a little session to break up the day like ten minutes on an app, you are listening to some (00:34:15) or somebody else guide you along. It’s pretty useful and I found that it levels me out, it makes me think about things more clearly, I’m not, OK, I need to respond to this negotiation email that I got in right now or I need to up the leverage on this deal to like close it out, you know, I can sit back, OK, I don’t actually need to respond to this within the next twenty-four (24) hours, you know, nothing is going to happen. I can actually slow walk some negotiations, I can build up different points of leverage. It just allows me to kind of step back and look at the entire field of play as opposed to just running on the ball at all times.

Name:             Why slowing down is important?

Graham:          It’s important, because you recognize things that you miss and/or players that you don’t necessarily see that are available to you, right, so a lot of the times you think that interaction is lineal and I need to talk to Lior to close this deal, right. Do I need to talk to Lior? What if Lior’s not talking to me right now? Perhaps I could get Benjamin Gross from accounts receivable to email somebody else who will then influence Lior to get back to me. So there are (00:35:24) that aren’t necessarily obvious to you, if you’re just in the moment, whereas if you can step back and you’re comfortable living in that little space of ambiguity for a while then there’s a lot more that you can accomplish.

Rick:               You know, losing a big deal hurts and it’s painful and, you know, obviously you want to be able to learn from that, otherwise you went through that pain for, you know, a less good reason, right, you want to make sure that there is value that you gain from that. You think about the big picture of what you’re looking to accomplish, right, beyond one deal, beyond one job, beyond one career.

Name:             How did you turn it from being something that could have been traumatic into, you know, an empowerment?

Rick                There’s this vision of where I want to be, so losing one big deal is that really going to prevent me from getting to the furthest point of my career to exactly where I want to be or is it going to delay it, and any time I receive a pain I always think about is this going to stop me from being exactly where I want to be in my life or is it going to just delay it, and every single time the answer is just delay it, unless it comes down to like health and things that we can’t control, that’s when things get real, but when you just lose a deal it’s painful, you learn from it, you get stronger, but you still have your eyes on the prize and that big picture, the big picture, whatever that is for you. For me I have my own big picture, I’m sure Graham has a vision of where he sees himself in, you know, the next ten (10) , fifteen (15) years and generally most people do, so when you lose a deal you lose a deal, but it doesn’t stop you.

Graham:          Yeah, I agree, big picture wise honestly it plays into future goals in a very strange way, understanding how to manage loss is going to be a big part of what I want to accomplish eventually, so like, you know, I’m grateful for it, more or less in a very strange way.

Name:             If someone is listening to this and they just lost a deal, and it’s a big deal for them that they lost this deal, what’s the immediate advice you would give them?

Rick:               First thing that I would say is number one make sure you sit down and analyze every step of that deal, whether you’re managing, up to your Manager or Director, you want to figure out what happened exactly, what you did wrong and what you could do better. The second part of it is, it goes back to what I said before, you’re losing a deal, don’t let it make you feel like you’re not good at your profession. Michael Jordan says it best, he’s failed more than he’s succeeded and he’s one of the most successful people in the sports world, so with that said you want to focus on the big picture, make sure you learn from it and one deals doesn’t define you.

Graham:          Understand what it is that happened. Manage your stakeholders internally and externally, externally, being the client, maybe there’s some form of deal to salvage, even if it’s not the same deal, internally, your Manager, your direct repots, your Manager’s Manager, people that may have helped you, and go back to basics, you know, like look at the deal, think about the elements of sales, did you qualify it all correctly or were there elements that failed. Look at the other deals that you’re currently in, is it a mistake that you are replicating and just remind yourself that this is one data point among many and just implement the things that you need to do to succeed.

Name:             One thing that I want to add that I just hear you saying and what I’m sort of crystallized at is that also keep on going, right. None of you stopped and stayed at home for weeks or stopped calling other customers or this thing of like keeping the motion going even if you’re hurt. I think that’s probably another piece of advice.

Rick:              Yeah.

Graham:          Yeah, I mean it’s better to go full Conan the Barbarian than to just stay at home and not do anything, you know.

Rick:               Yeah, and that’s more or less like the idea behind thinking big picture right, it’s not going to stop you. It’s like your vision and that loss of that one deal puts you in a place where it’s like it hurts, you lose a lot from it at the moment, but it doesn’t take you away from like the bigger picture. So …

Name:             So you analyze, as you said, but you do it as you’re going, not …

Rick:               Yeah, so you don’t stop. I mean can’t stop, wont stop.

Graham:          Eh, eh [laughs]

Rick:               [laughs]

Name:             [laughs]

Graham:          That’s a cultural thing (00:39:46)

Name:             [laughs] …  to close it off.

Rick:               Yeah.

Graham:          Yeah, we go well, Thank you, guys. I enjoyed this very much. Thank you, Rick.

Rick:               Yeah, much appreciated. Thank you for having us on your show. It was very enjoyable for me.

Name:             Thank you for speaking so openly about it, about something that usually is not that spoken, no?

Rick:               No, I feel like I have to pay you something, it was therapeutic.

Name:             Thank you. Thank you, guys, for listening.

Rick:               Thanks.

Graham:          Thank you.

Here is the full episode

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