I Lost $500,000 For My Company, How Is Your Year Going?
The worst statement I’ve heard this year, “You have been disqualified”. It was a Friday afternoon when a friend and colleague called me on the phone to deliver the news that a bid that I submitted and had a good chance to win had been lost because of a technicality.
I’m the Sales Manager for a software company and had been working hard on a project that would bring the company $500,000+ of revenue over the next five years. It was a big contract and would make our year once I landed it. I had done everything right. I won over the prospect team; I had made the right calls, followed up properly, spent many hours, and invested a large sum of cash to prepare the bid to perfection. I even got up at 3:30 am the day the bid was due and drove nine hours to deliver it myself, just to make sure it got there safely. The best part is that we had a “champion” inside the prospect team that had worked hard to convince the leadership to accept our bid. This was going to be huge, it would give us a lot of positive press and people would take notice once we landed this great account. I felt great! All I had to do now was to sit back and wait for the call that we won the bid.
INSTEAD, I got the call that made me sick to my stomach. “I’m sorry, Erick, you have been disqualified. You failed to comply with our bid process and left out one item.” Yes, out of over 1,100 pages of documents I had missed one small detail and left out a page that was required in order for my bid to be accepted. There was nothing I could do. Legally, they could not accept my bid and had to toss it out, without even looking at it! To make matters worse, only one other company was qualified to submit a bid and as long as they met the requirements they would win the $500,000 contract by default. They met the requirements and we lost, I had lost.
I had to call my boss and notify him that I let the company down. I had to call my colleague within the prospect team and apologize to him for not following basic directions. I had to notify my family that I lost a project that would give us a nice commission. The worst part; however, was to come to grips within my own mind that I failed. It’s tough to be rejected, especially, in my mind, I began to prepare for the project once we won the bid. I had a lot of emotional momentum going into the year and everything came to a screeching halt. I am happy to report that I am feeling much better and feel great about the year for my company. Yes, I lost that big contract, but I got over it and made positive steps to recover that momentum with other opportunities for the company. The main thing; however, is that my mind is right and I am totally over the loss and learned four lessons in the process:
- It is okay to mourn a loss, of any kind, in your life. I felt sorry for myself over a weekend and allowed myself to think about the “what ifs”.
- I opened up to those close to me. I cried out to my wife and leaned on her for support. She was great during the process and it felt good to share my regret with someone close to me.
- I looked for inspiration. The next day, after I received the news that I lost the bid, I received a package from my friend Carl Erskine, the famed Brooklyn Dodger baseball pitcher. He published a new book and took the time to send me a copy with a personal note. I read his book that weekend and it inspired me. His book and his life reminded me of the bigger picture and allowed me to think beyond my loss.
- I set up a new plan that would push me towards my next “win”. I sat down at my desk on a Sunday night and laid out a plan for the upcoming week that would allow me to chase down a big new prospect and to regain some momentum and by the end of that week, I had successfully set up a demonstration meeting with a new “big” account within the same state of the prospect I had lost a week earlier!
Within a week, I regained my momentum and excitement with my future and for my company! Life was back on track. That $500,000 contract will be missed and there is still some hurt in my heart at the professional loss, but I jumped back in the game and moved in the right direction for my company and my life. Have you suffered a loss lately? What are you doing to get past it?