There comes a time in every sales rep’s career when this conversation happens: “After careful consideration, we have chosen to buy from someone else.”
“This happens to every salesperson at least once,” says Michael Pedone, Founder and CEO of online sales training company SalesBuzz.com. “The real question is, will you let the loss of this deal cause you to lose even more sales?”
Michael warns about the danger of dwelling on a lost deal, saying that this negative mindset can start a losing streak.
So, how should you recover from lost sales?
“The best way to handle the mental anguish of losing a deal is to own it,” says Michael in this EyesOnSales article. “Make no excuses. Take responsibility.”
If you start making excuses as to why you lost the deal, you’ll never correct the behavior. The sting of the loss will linger much longer than you want it to.
To be ready for the next time a sale could fall through, Michael recommends analyzing the situation objectively. What could you have done differently? What will you do next time? This can help you move on from the loss and become a better salesperson.
“Mistakes are one of the greatest teaching aids out there,” he says. “But only if you are willing to take ownership of them.”
Mark Thacker, President of sales performance improvement company Sales Xceleration, urges sales reps to call the lead after the deal falls through—but not right away.
“It’s natural to want all the answers during the same call in which the prospect tells you that you have lost the deal,” says Mark. “However, it’s unlikely that you will gain meaningful feedback at that time.”
Mark explains in a company blog post that prospects already feel uncomfortable turning the sale down, so they are less likely to stay on the phone to explain their decision. He also advises sales reps to take the time to cool off and gain perspective before seeking answers.
“It’s impossible for you to have all the right questions to ask at the moment you learn of the lost sale,” he says.
When Mark loses a sale, he schedules a follow-up call dedicated to the debriefing.
Tell the prospect that you are not going to try to change their mind. By letting the prospect know you have accepted the loss, you’ll put him at ease and he will be more willing to talk.
Mark comes to these conversations prepared with a few questions that keep the discussion positive and forward looking. When an answer is unclear, he politely asks for clarification, such as asking for an example or for more elaboration.
“Don’t debate with the prospect,” he advises. “And listen more than you speak.”
There’s an old saying in sales: When you lose a sale, don’t lose the lesson, too.
“Lost deals can be beneficial if you learn from the experience and apply your learning to future sales opportunities,” says Mark. “By approaching sales with this mindset, you can turn lemons into lemonade.”