Making Bad Calls Good Business
"It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission." Grace Hopper
As a leader, you are called upon frequently to make decisions quickly. Odds are that even with a good amount of data, supporting information and nods of approval from your management team, you've still made some bad calls. According to a recent study, written by ESPN’s T.J. Quinn and highlighted in “Outside the Lines,” Major League umpires make the wrong call up to 20 percent of the time. I'm sure these umpires used as much available information as they could, and did their best to call it as they saw it, but these mistakes happen. No one wants to make a bad call, but as humans we will continue to make mistakes and have to suffer through the consequences. The media and the fans will weigh in with their judgments and opinions as the plays are reviewed. This is particularly the case with the bad ones. This is also the case in the world of business, but instead of fans and media we are being reviewed by prospects and clients.
Leaders are not the only ones on the team that have exposure to making bad calls. Your sales team must face these dilemmas on a regular basis as well. What kind of replay and review measures are you practicing post-decision? Does your team do a good job of conducting post-mortems on deals that went south? What about involving your customers themselves, or even potential customers, in this discussion? This can particularly come in handy if you lost a deal to a prospective new client. Checking back in with them to do your due diligence as to why your team and your solution were not selected could net some very valuable and actionable information.
In going to these measures you are demonstrating to this client that your intentions are to make sure that they have indeed selected the best solution and solution provider for them. It also shows that you are concerned with whether or not you and your team are conducting your sales process in a professional, detailed and thorough manner. Finding out why you failed, and following up to be sure the client is satisfied with their selection, could reveal that you need to make some changes in the way you do business. In some cases, it could also get you right back in the door to a new opportunity if the selected vendor or solution fails to deliver as promised. Training your sales managers to conduct these post-mortems and share the information with the entire team as a learning experience is a must. If you aren’t sure where to start you can also hire a third-party firm to conduct this research for you. Bad calls are unfortunately a part of the game; the least you can do is make them work for you in the long run.