It is often said that those who do not learn from their mistakes are bound to repeat them. Do you agree with this statement? I do. Why? Because I've violated it on more than one occasion myself! And each time I kicked myself for doing so.
At this time of the year, many of us think in earnest about our personal lives - we both reflect on times past, and ponder times to come. An annual exercise we go thorough is to make New Year's "Resolutions." Some of us resolve to change how we interact with others, others to eliminate bad habits, and still others to set and achieve goals (the truly ambitious among us resolve do all three!). These are worthy commitments, to be sure, but should we be limiting them just to our personal lives? Why not do the same with our business lives? After all, in our work - as in our personal lives - we can both look back and reflect on our experiences, and look forward to achieving that which we have not yet achieved. For those of us in sales, this means reflecting on our mistakes, and committing to learn from them. The best salespeople - who by definition have many achievements to celebrate - always do a post-mortem on their losses. They know there is something to be gained even in defeat, and they want to take something useful from the time they invested. Something they can use in a future deal, for future success. So they seek to learn why they lost a particular deal - what they neglected to do, how they were outmaneuvered, where the missed signs that the deal was not going their way. Many of you, I'm sure, already do this, and I encourage you to continue doing so. For those of you who don't, I say - "learn from the best, and do likewise!"
And how about our successes? Can we not learn from them? Of course we can! Every deal - win or lose - is a learning experience! As a professional salesperson, you do a lot of things right! More, in fact, than you do wrong. So don't ignore your wins; use them as a learning experience as well - to reinforce what you're doing that's effective. How do we learn from a win? The same way you learn from a loss - ask the customer why they selected you! Not right after you seal-the-deal, of course. But after a suitable time, when the customer has been happily using your product or service. Ask them over lunch or a drink why they chose you - what specifically was it about your offering, your company, or you, that led them to select you over your competitors. Once you have the answer(s), share them with your manager, so that he or she can develop a set of best practices for use by the entire team.
Resolve to learn all you can about how you can improve your performance - by continuing to do the things that contribute to your winning business, and rectifying those things that have the opposite effect. Dig up all your deals from the last 3 months - wins and losses - and resolve to find out why you won, or why you didn't. Then put that information to use in the coming year, so that you may have the most successful one of your career!