Why did you lose that deal?

Why did you lose that deal?

Andy Preston
Andy Preston

Sales expert, Andy Preston, explains why buyers lie to mobile phone salespeople.

I am often amazed at how few salespeople, sales managers and business owners do a proper de-brief over why a deal was lost. Whether that’s because they don’t think it’s important enough, the salesperson is too embarrassed to do it, or they’re already on to the next opportunity,

understanding why you lost that sale is vital to you improving for the next one.
I’m a big fan of salespeople taking personal responsibility for lost sales and their sales figures in general, because if they find out why they lost the deal, they can do something different next time. If you’ve worked with me before, you’ll know one of my favourite sayings is: “Every time I lose a deal, it’s my fault.”

The reason that I say that is I’m taking personal responsibility and looking at what I could have done differently in the process in order to win the deal next time. Sometimes it’s not easy and it could be simple (or stupid) stuff that lost the deal, but you need to learn from it!


What do most salespeople do?

However, most salespeople blame someone (or something) else! You’ll hear them say something like: “Well they just weren’t ready to sign”, or “They’re just focused on cheapest price”. The minute I hear a salesperson say something like that I get concerned, because what did they learn from that lost sale? Nothing! What can they now use from this experience to have a better chance of winning the next one? Nothing. Not very useful, is it?

Let me make this clear. If you’re selling mobiles (or any other produce or service in a competitive market) if the customer does buy what you’re offering, but not from you, then there’s a lesson to learn here. It’s a harsh lesson, so be ready for it. 


Here’s the harsh lesson

You weren’t good enough in the sales process. Let me make that clearer. You weren’t good enough in the sales process. 

Now I can hear all the sales whingers saying to themselves right now: “Andy, you’re wrong, it wasn’t me, they had a better price.” You’re wrong! The other salesperson was better than you.

Or you might be saying: “They went with a better known company, it wasn’t down to me.” You’re wrong. The other salesperson was better than you.

Or you might be saying: “They decided to stay with their existing supplier, there was nothing I could do.”  You’re wrong. The other salesperson was better than you.

Can you spot a pattern emerging here? The typical salesperson is blaming other things outside of their control for their failure to win the deal. Then they can feel better about themselves as it wasn’t thier fault, it was something else. 


What can we do about this?

Let me repeat the phrase I mentioned above. “Every time I lose a deal it’s my fault.”

When I’m working with sales teams all over the globe I’m more interested in why they lost the deal than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, the exact same situation is unlikely to appear in the same way again, but the same mistakes from the salesperson have a habit of showing up time after time.

If you’re a sales manager or business owner and are trying to find out why your salesperson lost their last deal, be prepared for them to guess. A guess sounds like they got a better price, they were just shopping around, or they stayed with their existing supplier. 

Anything like the above means that the salesperson doesn’t really know the reason. Either they’re guessing, or they’re taking the first answer from the prospect when they ask them, or even worse, the answer they get when they ask them by email.


Prospects will lie

One of the biggest problems is that prospects will lie to you, especially when you don’t get the deal. Perhaps because you’ve built up some rapport with your contact. Perhaps because they’re a little embarrassed about choosing someone else. Or perhaps because they weren’t the real decision maker.

Here are some real life answers as to why salespeople lost deals, taken from research I’ve done with decision makers around the globe: “The salesperson was late for the appointment”; “They said they’d send an email with figures on, and they never did”; “They only seemed interested in themselves”; “I didn’t think I could trust them”; “My boss decided to go with someone else”; “We didn’t understand the proposals, so we went with the person that talked us through them”.

Those are the real answers, and in every case above, the salesperson could have done something to win the deal. But they didn’t, and until they uncover the real reasons, and learn from them, they’ll continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Andy Preston is a recognised sales expert who specialises in working with mobile phone companies in particular, helping them generate more appointments, stand out from the competition, and close more deals. You can see and hear more about Andy at http://www.andy-preston.com/.

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