It isn’t until you become a salesperson that you truly understand losing. Even the best salespeople get to experience it every 30 days. Ugh! You may have been enticed into this performance-driven career by the dangling green carrot called “commissions.” However, once you’re in it, you realize some pretty serious strings are attached to reap rewards.
Sales, as a profession, is not for the faint of heart.
Over time, I’ve realized that the sales losses I’ve racked up can be as important as my most memorable wins. Perhaps this “positive spin” is a way of dealing with loss in general – an attempt to find some good in it. But it’s more than that. Losses are actually an opportunity for me to make lemonade from lemons. Digesting my losses and pinpointing things I could have done differently – especially for opportunities that I really thought I would win – is instrumental in understanding what behaviors I should stop repeating. After all, I want to win! So, using the experiences and data associated with my sales losses provides the most useful insights as to how I should change my approach when going after active sales opportunities.
Here are 3 ways you can get wins out of those dreaded sales losses to improve your sales strategies and win more deals.
- Identify the Why?
Identifying why we lose opportunities and what we can do about it is very important in the game of sales. The “why” can absolutely affect our strategy for upcoming and active opportunities.
Is every loss chalked up to price? I think most of us in sales will resoundingly say “no”! Think about some of the underlying “whys” from losses that might affect your sales process and strategy as you move forward. For instance: if price did trip you up, what are some of the questions you could have asked to identify and address pricing issues sooner? How could you have presented pricing or solutions differently to confirm commitment or increase communication regarding budget?
Perhaps you didn’t get in front of the right decision-makers. How will you identify true decision-makers in the sales process, their roles, and weight in the process next time? Maybe you weren’t aware of the competition – how will you identify and track other solutions and providers being evaluated, and why? What if there is no decision? Could you have probed more deeply to realize the prospect wasn’t ready? Finally, use talking about losses to your benefit – give your primary contact a call and ask if they might share with you some of the reasons the decision didn’t go your way. Having these open conversations is very helpful in identifying specific process improvements you can apply going forward.
- Spot a Trend.
Tracking loss reasons can really help you to up your game. Top performers do track loss reasons to best support and continually improve their sales strategy. Identifying trends for your loss reasons is one of the best uses of your CRM! Defining a selectable list of loss reasons is easy, and it makes recording loss reasons as simple as a “click.” It’s what you get out of doing this that matters. A selectable list of loss reasons enables you (and your team) to “normalize” and use the data in real-time. Instant feedback provides amazing “ROI.” More importantly, tracking that data over time provides better insight.
Sometimes this results in quick validation of a hunch; other times, it leads to a greater depth of analysis that can lead to very different outcomes. For instance, running loss reason reports fenced by specific dates, lead sources, vertical markets, customer types, sales stages, or even salespeople, provides valuable and specific insights. Insight backed by real data – not only within the specific parameters applied but also in places you might not otherwise spot. Exploring and using this data to better target prospecting and sales efforts, including the decision to turn your time and attention to higher producing lead sources, prospecting activities, markets, etc., is the win. This focus allows you to use your time more efficiently – and we all know that time is a terrible thing to waste!
- New Prospects!
Ok – what?? Getting new prospects out of losses – how does that work? Losses can help us recognize the prospects and sales opportunities we really should focus on versus those we assumed to be best. We are always running against a clock in sales, and most of us feel there is never enough time.
Using your loss data gets you focused on what is working and doing more of that. Let the competition chase after opportunities that more often result in wasted time and effort! Understanding what specific prospecting activities, purchased lists, and lead sources are not producing is actually its own type of win. Reviewing lost prospects and opportunities that didn’t make a decision, lost funding or, said they were going with another solution provides an easy list of contacts to remain in touch with. One day, they just may end up in the “ready to purchase” category.
Keep in mind, as well, that people move. Stay in touch with them! They’ll remember salespeople who paid attention to their needs and had the right solutions, even if they didn’t purchase at the time. Being ready to talk again with lost opportunities – calling to find out what’s new, what their top priorities are today, making them aware of the solutions you have that satisfy those priorities, and asking if they’d like to know more about what you are up to, can often lead to new opportunities that would have remained “lost” otherwise.
So, there you have it. Three ways to get wins out of losses, improve your sales strategies and increase sales success. What is the biggest “win” you’ve made from a loss?