Every sales pro thinks about a lost sale now and then.
Sure, many people in sales work in fast-paced environments where the law of averages is on their side. If you contact 100 prospects a day, you might not spend much time thinking about any individual lost sale. Sometimes, though, those thoughts creep in.
Imagine what it would be like if every lost sale in your career came back.
You might have dozens, hundreds, or over a thousand. They might be from all different roles, come in all shapes and sizes. They might be worth thousands or even millions. They might fill the lobby or even the whole building.
Of course, you can’t bring back every lost sale. And you’ll never land every sale you go after.
But: What if you could bring your game to the next level?
What if your team was losing 10% fewer sales? 20% 25%?
It’s possible – if you recognize the root causes that can cause sales to slip away.
Let’s look at fifteen top reasons your team could be losing sales:
1. No Follow-Up At All
Arguably the single biggest problem for sales organizations today is the idea that you just don’t need to follow up with prospects. Sure, prospects don’t appreciate being hounded with a lot of pressure – but the vast majority of them will disappear unless you reach out to them.
2. Not Enough Follow-Up
Exactly how much follow-up do you need? The type of sale you’re trying to make should guide you in this. Large, complex B2B solutions might require you to follow up anywhere from 5-8 times before you make the sale, thanks in large part to long buying cycles.
3. Not Enough Value Added
Thanks to the Web and mobile technology, prospects have the opportunity to find and research any type of solution they want. To stand out in a pack of samey “vendors,” you need to differentiate by adding value and creating a relationship even before the sale is made.
4. Too Many Cold Contacts
If your team members spend the majority of their time cold calling, they are missing out on some amazing opportunities. Consider cutting the number of contacts by half and spend the added time implementing warm email prospecting or another customer-focused method.
5. Too Much Sales Pressure
Buying decision-makers have important things to do and not much time to do them in. With so many options on the table, they can easily cut abrasive sales professionals out of their lives. Remember: You are there to hear the problem and collaborate on a solution, not push one.
6. Insufficient Understanding of Prospect
The better you understand a prospect, the more likely it is you’ll find common ground for a long-term working partnership. It only takes a few minutes to learn enough about a company to figure out where your solutions might fit in, and it makes a great impression compared to going in blind.
7. Not Listening Well Enough
If you have the chance to talk to a prospect, you should treat it as a golden opportunity. People love talking about themselves, and your prospects are no different. When you show them active listening and reflect what they have to say, it demonstrates that you really care about their needs.
8. Not Recognizing Prospect “Tells”
Want to prevent a lost sale? Start gathering data at each step in the buyers journey. At every turn, prospects will clue you into their thought process. This begins with inferences based on how they interact with your site, what content they access, and what information they volunteer.
9. Not Adjusting Buyer Personas
When you launch a product or service, you start with an understanding of your ideal customer. Over time, however, market conditions and prospect needs can shift. Take notes and revisit prospect conversations so you understand unmet needs and new objections being raised.
10. Not Using Sales Qualification
A sales qualification framework like BANT can save you a lot of time while preventing more than one lost sale. For those who could use a refresher, BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. Anyone missing one of these isn’t a qualified prospect yet!
11. Not Using Analytics Data
Analytics data tells you not only how a prospect reaches your website, but what kind of actions they take once they’re there. This can give you a lot of insight into individual prospects: Informing you about what websites they trust or what social media networks they use, for example.
12. Not Lead Scoring
Lead scoring is a more complex form of sales qualification that compares the behavior of your current prospects to the past behavior of those who ultimately became customers. It demands heavy-duty data-crunching capabilities from your website and CRM, but it is more than worthwhile.
13. Not Working with Marketing
When sales and marketing fight, nobody wins. A complete picture of your prospects will only emerge when you synthesize marketing’s latest research with the live customer conversations that only come from sales. Ideally, “intelligence-sharing” meetings should happen frequently.
14. Not Applying Lessons Learned
To be the best you can be, your team needs to be generating its own sales insights. That means not only recording new information, but taking time to share and process it. Quarterly sales meetings are great, but an annual conference aimed at upleveling your game can do wonders.
15. Not Teaching Others
No matter what your professional background or goals, one thing comes up again and again: You haven’t really mastered something until you can teach it. Encouraging senior team members to teach sharpens their skills and accelerates junior members on the road to peak performance.
Unraveling the Lost Sale Mystery for Your Sales Organization
Every lost sale is different, and every team has some room for improvement. When you look at your team’s output in terms of these fifteen lost opportunities, however, you’ll most likely find some that you can start working on as a group right away.
Choose one, two, or three, and start building a framework.
You’ll need to determine what metrics you should measure, how and when you should look for improvement, and what processes or resources need to be put in place. In many cases, a little friendly competition can be helpful – as long as it doesn’t isolate sales from marketing!
As you examine different ways to move the needle for your team, remember the importance of having an overall sales philosophy. To succeed in 2018 and beyond, all sales processes should use inbound marketing as the North Star guiding their progress.
Inbound marketing is simply the conviction that delivering value comes first. That value serves as a preview of what leads can expect when they become customers. It also helps you build solid rapport and trust that will keep you in consideration during long B2B sales cycles.
If you feel like your team is plagued by a lost sale bogeyman, don’t despair.
When you focus on an area of weakness, it always becomes an opportunity to grow stronger than you ever imagined. That’s true of teams as well as individuals – and in a few months, your team could reach a new summit of success.