The Lost Business Review

Losing sucks but not learning from our mistakes sucks even more!

As much as it may pain us, it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as we learn from them. And that’s the power of a Lost Business Review. A Lost Business Review helps us to better understand – without making any assumptions – why an opportunity was lost.

Carrying out a Lost Business Review is not a last-ditch effort to convince the client they are wrong or an attempt to protect our bruised ego. Rather, this is a precious opportunity to learn how to improve and increase our win rate going forward. It is also an important step to keep the door open and give the client a reason to reconsider us in the future.

Here are a few key points for conducting a Lost Business Review:


  1. Learn from our losses
  2. Position for future opportunities.


  • Position the whole interaction as asking (and gratefully receiving) advice
  • Be humble and listen
  • Seek to clarify/understand, not challenge
  • Be appreciative of the client’s time.

Opening statement

It’s critical to open the conversation with humility. Position it so the other party feel comfortable to share honest feedback, for example:

“Thank you for making time to speak with us. We appreciate you sharing your advice

so we can learn from this experience and improve. If you don’t mind, we’d like to ask

a few questions and really appreciate you telling it to us straight. Is that ok?”

Potential questions (use as appropriate):

  1. Were we ever under serious consideration to win your business?
  2. If so, what occurred that eliminated us from the running?
  3. As you look at our dialogue and meetings, what was the difference between us and the firm that was successful?
  4. Did your decision surround the actual solution, or did it have more to do with the teams of each company?
  5. Did you have the confidence we would deliver what we represented during our discussions?
  6. How closely was the solution we offered fit for purpose?
  7. What do you feel is the most important lesson that we can learn from this experience?
  8. Do you have any other advice for us?
  9. Would you actually consider us for any future opportunities?
  10. Where did we not measure up?
  11. Where did we measure up or impress you?
  12. Where did we stand out from the other providers?
  13. What were the gaps between us and the party that was successful?
  14. Where did you feel we needed to be stronger?
  15. What was missing or lacking?
  16. If there is one thing we could improve on, where would you advise us to prioritise?
  17. Is there anything that you felt we missed or misunderstood?

Of course, our aim is always to win work. However, we can learn from the opportunities that got away. And with the intel that comes from a Lost Business Review, we can put those lessons to use and help us to win work in the future.