Having lost a recent society election, I felt horrible and was surprised to notice how my reaction was similar to losing a project in the studio. So, I started wondering if there was a way to learn from losing, and this is what I figured out…
Architectural design studios and large advertising agencies have a process called ‘Post-loss Debriefing’. I feel this process can help us understand, digest, and improve our response to any loss. Designers and smaller studios should adopt this as a professional practice. This will save heartburn and make you better prepared to win next time. It will also bring closure to an unsuccessful bid, and help you gather accurate and meaningful information from prospects to learn from the loss.
Here are some proven ways to get more candid and accurate feedback from prospects post decisions:
1. Let your prospective client know early in the briefing that you will conduct a post-decision debriefing (regardless of the outcome). This way the client has the time to get comfortable with the idea and give you honest actionable feedback.
2. Make a separate debrief call after hearing about the loss. Make your client trust that you have accepted the decision and are not trying to influence it in any way. Chances are, the client will be very candid with you.
3. Prepare a debrief guide. Keep a questionnaire prepared and ready and let that guide the interaction.
4. Take responsibility. Make sure you are ready for candid feedback. Don’t get defensive or angry, don’t debate, and don’t try to resell.
5. Probe for details. Ask how you can improve, or make it better. Ask for advice. Get into the specifics of losing, but do not justify.
This can unlock vast potential, and you will start seeing results in terms of how you feel and how you pitch next time.