Losing the deal, but creating some magic!
As a professional focusing on revenue generation, you know you should never lose a deal alone. It is always best to use the resources of your full team to help win business. That’s not always easy because most sellers want to be Superman and bring home the “fatted calf” all alone. The thinking is noble, yet the approach is foolish.
A sports maxim suggests big important lessons occur more through defeat versus victory; the same principle applies to sales.
When a friend of mine told me the other day his sales org doesn’t “do” post-mortem discussions when deals are lost, I responded, “shame on you!”
He sheepishly replied, “I know, I know…gotta add that to the list.”
Good. Yes. Right away, add that to the list. NOW.
Consider the nature of what is informally referred to as a “closed-lost” meeting. It gets its name from a CRM term when an opportunity is officially designated as “dead” by the seller, it is referred to as “closed” and “lost”, thus: “closed-lost”. “Closed-lost” meetings feature a review of all the deals of the week that officially were designated as going bye-bye. Translation: the seller (and company) lost! Either another vendor won out, the budget went away, an incumbent kept the deal, or a myriad number of other reasons explain why the deal was lost. Either way, the revenue is not coming to YOU. The analysis of why the deal was lost is crucially important for a company striving to get better in all facets of the game.
The main ingredient bringing "close lost" data to life with value is the power of conversation.
“Closed-lost” reviews offer incredible insight to numerous company stake holders. For example, those who run the product development function can learn deep insights how prospects view the company’s offering. And then of course, changes and improvements can be made. Sales enablement personnel learn how proposal and idea creation process can be enhanced to better support company sellers. And then of course, changes and improvements can be made. And of course, sales managers and sellers learn which core selling skills need improving. If these lessons are all learned and applied, perhaps the next opportunity is designated as “closed-won”.
The main ingredient that brings this CRM “closed-lost” data to life with value is the power of conversation. When managed properly, the meetings teach managers and sellers alike the value of a “fight”. More often than not, the “closed-lost” deal being examined could easily have been a “closed-won” deal had there been a little more tenacity, guile and strategy on the part of the seller and his/her support personnel. Unfortunately, it’s common to get beat by a better price, or a better mouse-trap, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Most of the time, selling competency and effort is responsible for whether an opportunity winds up in the “closed-won” or “closed-lost” column. The only way to get to the core of why the opportunity was lost is to examine it with minute detail…. through conversation.
There are many “closed-lost” conversations that should take place in the org, and all of them require a slightly different approach. The head of sales should be reviewing all company “closed-lost” deals with his/her sales managers to instill fight in the managers, and, to coach the managers how to teach technical selling skills to their sellers. In turn, it’s the sales managers who will be having a meaningful and educational “closed-lost” conversation with each individual seller. Learning how to win deals is a continual education process only occurs if high-quality conversations are a habit.
When the actual seller is engaged in a constructive conversation with his/her manager, immense learning and professional growth can occur. Losing because of price may illustrate weakness with the seller’s closing and negotiating skills. Losing because the buyer thinks the competition is better may expose a gap in presentation and communication abilities. Unless sales management has that conversation with the seller, there won’t be learning about how to improve the next time…and the next time…and the next time.
The goal is making sales. The path is through data analysis, conversation, and education.
Selling.2.YES is the monthly newsletter published by Core 6 Management Advisors to enlighten, motivate and stimulate all of us sellers and sales managers on topics that need our attention.
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