This article originally appeared in HBR.org.
The deal was theirs to lose. An accounts payable software firm recently aimed to win a contract with a current customer, which had assembled an initial short list of contenders. However, when it came to the demonstration stage to show the newest product, the sales staff did not adequately prepare, stumbling over a clunky user interface, a weak roadmap for the next generation of products, and a mismatch with the buyer’s needs. The account chose another firm it had put on its “day one” list of vendors—the group that it had in mind before beginning the process.