Paul explains how to keep that door open even after a sale is lost.
Do a thorough post-mortem after you lose a sale. Don’t automatically blame it on price.
Was it okay to lose that business? If so, move on.
Be gracious in your defeat and offer yourself as a safety net should the competitor drop the ball.
Follow up with your prospect during the transition. You may discover some opportunities to show your value added.
Offer the customer something new with your solution. Make it easier for them to swallow their pride and change their mind.
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How do I position myself after I lose a sale?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about what you do after you lose a sale. Always frustrating. We’ve all been there. You’re going to lose some business. So the question we’re going to answer today is, “How do you position yourself after you lose a big sale?” The key is, we want to leave the door open for future business. So what do we do? How do we make that happen? That’s what we’re going to answer on today’s show.
Before we get into that, though, a quick reminder—speaking of tough times, losing a sale is tough. One thing we have to do is bounce back mentally after we lose a sale. If you need some tips on building resilience as we face these uncertain times, pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. It’s available wherever you get your books.
Let’s get back to it: How do you position yourself after you lose a sale? So, I’m going to give you a couple of ideas, a couple of tips. First of all. When you lose a sale, you’ve got to go back, you’ve got to do a post-mortem. You’ve got to figure out what happened, what could you do better next time. Do all that good stuff. Do a nice thorough post-mortem. And, if you realize that maybe it was all about price, don’t be too quick to cast that wide net, because, oftentimes, salespeople will use that as a crutch. They’ll say, “Oh, they’re just a price shopper. They’re just buying on price, and that’s why we lost it.” And they’re really failing to admit that, “Well, maybe I did something wrong. Maybe I didn’t sell value. Maybe I didn’t ask the right questions,” all that. So don’t be quick to say, “Hey, they were just a price shopper.” But, number one, conduct a thorough post-mortem.
The next thing you want to do, decide whether or not this opportunity is a good fit for your company. Is this really the type of business you should be pursuing? Because after you go through the post-mortem, you might realize, “Hey, we really don’t need this type of business. This is not a good fit for us. This is a type of customer who’s only going to focus on price.” If you determine that you don’t want to do business with them ever, then go move on to new opportunities. So those are the two things you’ve got to do to get to the real good stuff—what we’re going to talk about now.
So first things first, if it’s good business and you want to keep going after them, number one—be gracious in your defeat. Sour-grapes selling doesn’t bode well for any salesperson. You don’t want to go scorched earth and get all mad and get all emotional that you lost the piece of business. Be gracious in defeat. And when you’re following up with the customer and you’ve tried to manage the objection, you’ve tried to push it through and it’s not going to happen, just let them know, “Hey, thank you for the opportunity. I’d like to be here as your safety net.” Customers are going to agree to that. They’re going to say, “Yeah, sure. We’ll call you if something happens.” So be gracious in the defeat and ask if you can be their safety net.
Now, these next three steps are so important. Number one, make sure you follow up with your prospect during the transition. When you think about the customer journey—we call it the Critical Buying Path®—the customer has the pre-sale phase, the transition phase, and the post-sale usage phase. Your goal is to follow up during the transition. During the transition, stuff happens. Things go wrong. There’s missed delivery dates. There’s technical issues. There’s integration issues depending on what you’re selling. And that’s where problems come up. You should follow up with that prospect during those times, because if you can follow up with that prospect while they’re having an issue, it positions you for that next opportunity. When they have an issue and you’re there to offer insight, support, whatever it may be, they’re going to view you as a value creator. And not only that, but you’re reaching out to that prospect at the moment where they’re having a painful transition. The more pain they have, the more open they’re going to be to your solution—maybe now, or maybe in the future. So, follow up during the transition.
Once they go through the transition and the prospect is using your competitor, do a side-by-side comparison. Take a look at the competitor that they have selected and compare your post-sale support and performance to what your competitor has to offer. Your goal is to identify those key areas of difference where you stand out from the competition. Once you identify those key differentiators, you want to meet with the customer, continuously follow up with them, and then ask questions that will call attention to your value-added strengths that also happen to call attention to a competitive weakness. What you are doing right now, you are creating distance. You’re exposing a need. And as that buyer is aware of that need, you are creating an opportunity—an opportunity to position yourself. You’re not only trying to dislodge the competitor at this point, but you’re also positioning yourself to be the front runner the next time there is an opportunity. So, the goal again is to ask questions that call attention to your strengths that happen to also call attention to a competitor’s weakness.
Finally, once you have revealed some of the pain that customer’s experiencing now, it’s time to offer them a new decision. Here’s what will happen. When customers make a buying decision and they’re not happy with the decision that they have made, they don’t want to admit that they made the wrong decision. Right? Our egos don’t allow us to say, “Hey, you know what? I made a bad decision.” So, what you need to do is offer them something new. Because, in their mind, if it’s a new decision, they never had the opportunity to make it before, so now they have something new, they’re going to be more open to changing. They’re going to be able to bypass their ego, telling them, “Hey, I made the right decision.” You’re able to get past that. So, offer them a new decision.
Here’s how you might frame that. Maybe you meet with that customer and say, “I know it’s been several months, Mr. Customer, since we have last looked at our solution. I wanted to let you know that we’ve got several new things that have recently come up—stuff that wasn’t available to us a few months ago. I wanted to run through that with you to see if that may alleviate some of the issues that you’re currently having.”
See, what we’re doing is we’re offering them a new decision. And since that decision is new, they never had the chance to make it before, so their ego will allow them to accept this new decision you’re offering. That’s the key.
So again, on today’s show, we answered the question, “How do I position myself after I lose a big sale?”
Make it a big day.