7 Ways to Help You Determine Why You Lost the Sale

7 Ways to Help You Determine Why You Lost the Sale

Written by: Richard Schroder

There's nothing quite like the feeling of closing a sale. Whether it's a large sale or a small one, we tend to celebrate first and then try to understand why we won so we can replicate our success.

There is much more to be learned from losing, however, yet most people do not know how to gather accurate and meaningful information from prospects to learn from their losses.

Salespeople and professionals involved in sales often ask prospects why they lost a deal, but they typically don't get a straight answer. In fact, according to proprietary sales win/loss analysis research data, prospects tell salespeople the complete truth about why they lost less than half the time. In fact, win/loss research shows salespeople learn the truth about 40% of the time. In other words, in 60% of new business situations, salespeople do not have a complete and accurate understanding of why they lost.

There are many reasons why prospects are not candid during debriefs, including:

  • They do not want to hurt the salesperson's feelings.
  • They fear confrontation and/or criticism from sales reps.
  • They often have issues with the sales rep or sales process that can impact their candor.

There are also many ways in which salespeople inhibit the feedback process, such as:

  • Salespeople are often caught off guard by a bad news call and may be unprepared to conduct a debriefing.
  • Salespeople usually do not know the right post-sale questions to ask (and how to ask them).

Below are seven ways for you to improve your post-sales etiquette and get more candid win/loss feedback from prospects:

1. Give early notification that you will conduct a win/loss debrief (regardless of the outcome of the sale). In order to make the prospect comfortable and illicit honest and, more important, actionable feedback, tell the prospect early in the sales process that regardless of the outcome, you will be conducting a post-decision debrief call at the end of the process.

2. Schedule a separate win/loss debrief call. Do not debrief on the same call as when you hear about a loss. When you hear about a loss, prospects have one goal in mind: to get you off the phone as quickly as possible. Therefore, getting good feedback is always challenging. Instead, schedule a separate debrief call after you have accepted the loss, and let the prospect know you will not try to change their decision.

3. Use a debrief guide. Using a win/loss questionnaire maximizes feedback and keeps the conversation focused. As a result, research has shown that salespeople who use a debrief questionnaire have a 15% higher close rate than those who do not.

Related: What Are the Frogs on Your Desk You're Returning To?

4. Take responsibility. Make sure you really want candid feedback; prospects will be able to tell if you don't. Don't get defensive or angry, don't debate with the prospect, and don't try to resell the prospect.

5. Take notes. Tell the prospect you'll be taking notes. This will make them feel important and make them feel compelled to talk more. Your average debrief should last 10-15 minutes.

6. Probe for specifics. Ask questions such as "How do you mean?" or "Could you say more?" Other great ways of getting candid feedback include asking, "How can I improve on this?" "How can I make it better?" or "Can I get your advice?"

7. Consider having someone else conduct your win/loss debriefs. Once you have a debrief guide, you could have someone else within your company conduct the meeting (such as an inside wholesaler or cold caller). You could also find someone outside of your company to do this work for you. If you are running a sales team, consider hiring an outside third party to conduct win/loss analysis interviews on behalf of your entire sales team.

By implementing a process for conducting better debrief calls, you will unlock a vast source of prospect information that will allow for continual sales improvement. This process will ultimately increase you close rate for years to come.

Scott Messer
Sales Strategy
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Scott’s career as a business development professional and serial entrepreneur spans over 25 years. Before starting Sales Evolution, LLC, Scott held various sales,  ... Click for full bio

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: Feb 19-23

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: Feb 19-23

Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on IRIS.xyz, Feb 19-23, 2018

Click the headline to read the full article.  Enjoy!

1. Don’t Get Pinged by the Social Security Earnings Limit

I’d like to introduce you to Peggy. Born in 1956, Peggy will be 62 in 2018. She has worked in retail her whole life, the past twenty-five years spent in management. Peggy divorced from her husband 14 years ago, is still single and has no children. — Dana Anspach

2. We're Back to “Bad News is Good News” and “Good News is Great News”

This week the markets shrugged off last week’s fears and went back to the slow and steady melt up, despite economic news that looked likely to once again rock the boat. — Lenore Elle Hawkins

3. Q1 2018 Factor Views

Themes established in 2017 across a wide range of markets and factors continued to resonate through the fourth quarter. Economic growth was strong and supportive of equity markets across the globe, a range of volatility measures reached all-time lows, and business and consumer sentiment remained elevated. — Yazann Romahi and Garrett Norman

4. A Beneficial Basket of Commodities

Advisors and investors that feel they are hearing more and more about commodities and the corresponding exchange traded products in recent months are right. That is a natural result of dollar weakness and yes, the greenback is floundering again in 2018. — Tom Lydon

5. 3 Trends Shaping the Future of Asset Management

As the industry works to cope with new regulation, wades through an outpouring of new products, learns to satisfy investors’ shifting priorities and manages the active-passive debate, the viability of business units will be questioned, and at times radical measures will be taken. Peter Hopkins

6. 5 Ways Advisors Leave Money on the Table, and What to Do About It

My hope is that this article points out some opportunities for you to make more money and serve your clients at a higher level and that you decide to do something about it. — Bill Bachrach

7. The Market Has Gone Wild! Is It Time to Change Your Investment Strategy?

Whether the market is flying high or taunting your emotions with new lows and some bumpy volatility, here are four things every investor should keep in mind ... — Lauren Klein

8. How to Deepen Client Relations and Capture New Business Using Engaging Content

Why financial advisors NEED to understand much more clearly the power of good digital market. With tools like AdvisorStream, it’s easier than ever to get the content you need to drive leads and referrals today! — Kirk Lowe and Matt Halloran

9. Three Ways The Most Successful Gain Big Attention

How do some firms and ideas go from nowhere to everywhere in a few short months? All of a sudden a restaurant becomes popular, a gas station gains a cult following, or a Broadway show becomes too popular to get a ticket for years. — Maribeth Kuzmeski

10. Who Are the Hottest FinTech Firms and Influencers Around the World?

"Worldwide, $27.4 billion poured into fintech startups in 2017, Accenture reports, up 18% from 2016. With so much in play, it’s not surprising that 22 companies are new on this, the third edition of our list."  — Chris Skinner

11. The New Stock Market Normal Is Not What You Think!

Many sensational headlines have been written the past few weeks about market declines, but two things have increased for sure: the viewership and the ad revenues of financial media organizations — Preston McSwain​​​​​​​

Douglas Heikkinen
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IRIS Co-Founder and Producer of Perspective—a personal look at the industry, and notables who share what they’ve learned, regretted, won, lost and what continues ... Click for full bio