Life seems about coming to an end for many of us in the marketing department of the company I work for. Efforts towards the purchase of a large consignment of our product, aimed at the legislative arm of a Nigerian government (with a positive outcome that would have earned some of us ‘all expenses paid’ trips abroad), have come to naught. We all feel devastated as a result, hence this request for a respite from you on how to make the best out of such lost sale – Buba Y.
Your portrayal of awareness that something positive could be derived from your company’s demise, in itself, spurs me towards providing some ways to help absorb ‘the shock’ from dashed hopes, you all seem to be facing presently. Remember the saying, “If the animal being hunted escapes today, tomorrow remains another day for hunting”. If you miss your objective today, who says another day’s attempt won’t bring success? Draw on my response here to inform your affected colleagues not be down cast due to dashed hopes from loss of even a ground-breaking sale. In sales, when it turns out that you have lost out in all your efforts at securing any anticipated prospect’s or client’s patronage, do not see it as the end of life.
Regard lost sale as any selling opportunity that you encounter due to an item being out of stock; or as a result of a particular brand or line not being in your stock at all; or any other reason that caused you to lose that opportunity to sell. Remember to always draw the line between actually sold items and potentially or anticipated sold items. Lost sale has bearing on the former. Generally, it is vital that you obtain any piece of information relevant to your lost sale, hence I urge you to note the following in order to wade off the form of negative reactions you stated and persevere in future, after encountering a lost sale:
Note what went wrong
Whenever you experience a lost sale, even where it will be human to feel ‘under the weather’ brace up for a form of soul searching on what went wrong in the transaction. Is it a case of defect in the quality of your product (or service) – Bearing in mind that lower quality product attracts fewer or no buyers, while improved quality gives sales a boost? In a nutshell, find out exactly why you lost the deal. Where the prospect is hesitant towards your enquiry, let its contact person realize your willingness to remain an effective backup if given the opportunity in future. This, no doubt, will likely create a positive impression about your readiness to correct lapses, and will likely not lose out if given a second chance.
Did you in any way contribute to the lost sale? Try to do what top sellers often do – Assume total accountability for the lost business and then try to figure out how to ensure it never occurs again. An analysis of the total sales process will likely present both what you did well and something that went amiss. These can be exemplified by what the prospect liked, intended achievement or what should be eliminated. Did you encounter any resistance, objections at any stage of your encounter(s) with the prospect? What actions could you have taken to prevent these barriers?
Since you have obviously lost to a competitor, somehow your message ‘did not hit target’. Ask yourself why. If indeed the competitor edged you out, ascertain if you misconstrued the prospect’s primary decision criteria. In such a situation, decipher what you could have done to maximize your strengths, minimized your weaknesses and differentiate your offering better before any form of competition? Then ascertain the strategy your competitor adopted to convince the prospect to choose the competitor’s over yours.
Try to figure out what you could have done that would have led to a different outcome – one where you were the winner. In a nutshell, I urge you not to give up (perseverance is of essence). Another attempt, if it comes, can be the master stroke.
Signs to watch out for
There are things you should watch out for next time, to serve as pointers to the likelihood of the deal not coming your way. View such as ‘red flags’ which portend the need for a re-adjustment of whatever strategy you have in place. Endeavour not to overlook indicators such as: (a) A prospect showing signs of being indifferent (an interested party would likely have questions, and show concerns. When the reverse occurs, be on your guard and then work towards a better relationship with the prospect). (b) If the prospect seems to be non-committal to a definite cut-off date for a decision (a prospect becoming imprecise on this should give cause to ‘smell a rat’). (c) When the contact person is not really a significant decision maker within the structure of the other party (where this is the case it portends a sign of no serious intension to purchase). (d) When the prospect demands for a proposal rather than a conversation at the unset (this tends to hint on a prospect’s desire for merely insight on pricing or terms, for comparative purposes). (e) If the prospect has issues with your price, and not too willing to reason with you. (To be continued).