Recovering From a Lost Sales Deal

All the signs were there – you were on top of things in discovery, picked out the perfect solutions, and delivered a smashing presentation that wowed the decision makers and influencers. You’re practically dreaming of that win and everything that comes with it! And then you receive notice that they’ve gone with someone else. Your castles in the air have vanished, blown away like so much smoke. What now?

Permit yourself a few minutes to feel the disappointment. This isn’t something that gets mentioned much – probably because sales reps lose more deals than they win in aggregate – but give yourself at least a few minutes to process the disappointment. It’s healthier for your mental state to let it out. Once you’ve done that, you can move up to the next part –starting to do something about it.

Schedule a follow-up win/loss analysis with the prospect. The best way to figure out why you lost the deal is to hear it directly from the prospect. Get a call scheduled to discuss the particulars and stress that you’re not trying to get them to change their mind. You simply want to learn about the factors that led to their decision.Sometimes it won’t be you – it’ll simply be that a competitor was a better fit for the prospect’s situation. That’s useful intel to have, though, as it makes you more aware of your competition’s advantages and how they appeal to the type of customer you were trying to win.

Other times, yes, it will be you. In that scenario, take the constructive criticism for what it is and use it to revise your process going forward.

Conduct a review of the sales process to see where you might have missed the deal potentially going south. If you can’t secure a win/loss analysis appointment, or even if you do, it’s a good idea to comb through the sales process and see if you can identify at what point things started to go askew. Perhaps you weren’t as thorough in discovery as you thought and failed to identify the key people involved. Or maybe you didn’t uncover a need the competitor did.It could be that your presentation resonated with some of your audience, but not others. You might have assumed something that wasn’t true, which had the deal on a faulty foundation from the start. The possibilities are endless. Hence, expect to spend considerable time here, closely scrutinizing where the error is likely to have occurred.

Think about re-qualifying at each stage of the process. One way of combating this issue is to re-qualify prospects every step of the way. Conditions might initially be favorable, but further on down the line, things may shift and no longer make the opportunity feasible. Performing due diligence and keeping in mind the idea that discovery never really ends will help you anticipate these lost time sinks before they happen.You can also then spend more time on those prospects that are much more likely to close by using qualifying scores periodically to rank your opportunities according to your organization’s metrics.

Make sure you’re recording and tracking every event of the sales process in your CRM. We get it. Sales reps are busy and constantly keeping on track of your CRM can be a challenge. But it’s necessary. You need the data so when you go back and review deals (whether won or lost), you can see how each individual step either contributed to your success or caused your downfall.For example, maybe you were a little too slow in getting back to the prospect. Perhaps you missed a step somewhere along the way that turned out to be the deciding factor. Unless you’ve maintained your progress throughout the process, it’s hard to say because the information that would tell you where the stumble occurred doesn’t exist in the record.

It’s never enjoyable to lose a deal. But it’s a fact of sales life, just like baseball players will fail to get a hit far more often than not. If you follow the guidelines we’ve provided here, you’ll be able to zero in on when and where you can improve your game and do better going forward.