Lost sales can be your greatest teacher as a sales professional. Learning from it can change the trajectory of your career.
One of the most underutilized opportunities for growth is the lost sale. Failure to make a sale is common. Failure to evaluate why you lost a sale is foolish.
To be clear, a lost sale means that you had a legitimate sales opportunity and you got outsold, outbid, or outmaneuvered. Successful salespeople evaluate every performance to find out what they did well and where they can improve.
Here are three self-reflective questions to help you objectively evaluate your performance:
1. How well did I demonstrate Credibility?
Credentials convey credibility. (No, not your MBA) Rather, business credentials that actually mean something to the buyer, such as: the number, size and scope of your industry related customers; the relevant industry certifications you’ve earned; the case studies you can produce; the endorsements you can share, etc.
Knowing when to present your credentials is just as important. I recommend withholding credentials as long as possible with decision makers. Revealing them all up front can be interpreted as too self-seeking and not buyer focused. Avoid that trap and spoon-feed your credentials to the prospect as needed during the sales process. On the other hand, you may have to share some of them early on to get the appointment in the first place.
2. How well did I truly Qualify?
One of the most common ways to lose a sale is failure to qualify the buyer. Know what a qualified buyer is and the qualifying questions to ask. Otherwise, you’ll easily assume a sale where there isn’t one.
Too often salespeople will either fail to qualify or fail to focus on highly targeted accounts. Going outside the boundaries of your ideal customer profile lessens your chances of landing sales.
Sales reps can also waste valuable time managing prospects that will not buy. As a result, the sale was not really lost – it was never yours in the first place. Throwing proposals against the wall hoping something will stick is not selling; it’s wishful thinking.
3. How well did I determine the buyer’s perception of Value?
Regardless of how we may feel about our products and services, the prospects value perceptions take center stage. As sales professionals, we must seek to find out why and how our solution achieves their objectives. In other words, what do they really want – personally and professionally?
Failure to do so and the buyer see’s no discernable difference between your solution and your competitor’s. The buying decision then degenerates to price. If you only pitch product and price without presenting value based on the buyer’s perceptions, lowest price wins.
When you lose a sale, take the time to reflect on your preparation and performance. Ask yourself these three simple questions. Doing so, you’ll most likely locate the gap… and that’s when you can start to minimize lost sales.