I hate to lose. Whether it's basketball, Scrabble, or especially in business; I detest it. I'll let my kids win sometimes, but other than that, it's game on. Sometimes I let my competitiveness get the better of me, when winning might not be so important. However, I firmly believe that hating to lose drives business success. You compete better, you learn from mistakes, you do what it takes to win at business.
You know what's even worse than losing, losing for a bad reason - like the time my brother Seth called a bogus offensive foul call in a game of one-on-one basketball when we were in high school. Who calls offensive fouls in pickup basketball? You want to call offensive fouls, go be a referee.
Recently, Billtrust competed for some new business at a large manufacturer. These are ideals clients for us because we have a great business-to-business solution, awesome references, and a fair price. The way we typically present our solution is to talk first about our paper billing solution and then close with our electronic billing solution. This is where the world is today, this is where it's going, and here is how we will help you get there!
From the outset, I should have known we were in trouble. Every question seemed to be about the cost of mailing a paper bill. How much is one invoice, multiple invoices, cost of the envelope, etc? While these are important questions, almost all vendors in our industry have the same cost structure so these numbers don't vary by that much. We tried to stress with the prospect that our solution allows you to have zero cost in mailing a paper bill because we help migrate customers to electronic billing. So what they should really be focusing on is the total cost of the solution, not just one or two line items. Normally I would be concerned that we didn't do a good enough job explaining or positioning, but in this case they just didn't get it.
We lost the deal, which doesn't happen often, for bad reasons. I know deep down that I need to accept some losses occasionally, but it still pisses me off.