Working with sales people on a daily basis provides me with a unique perspective on the emotional rigors and psychology of selling for sales professionals. I’ve heard all the advice, and given it, when it comes to emotionally detaching yourself from a sale, especially when the outcome is a lost opportunity. However, the emotional and psychological investment in the sale has a lot to do with the ultimate success of the sales person.
In new business development, you are going to lose more than you win. Those losses can come at a steep price for the sales reps on the front line of your company. Signed deals are the definition of success in the field of sales. If you care about something, and are emotionally invested, how much more often do you win? The downside, is that the losses hurt. The fallout of those lost opportunities can take a toll on a sales person’s self-confidence and enthusiasm. What we are forgetting is the lesson buried in each relationship that does not result in a sale.
Information truly is power, when you know what to do with it. If you close a deal, and you don’t know why, what have you learned that will aid you in earning your next deal? When you lose a deal, you become Sherlock Holmes and this is how you start improving sales performance. Here is a starter list of questions to ask yourself:
- In walking through the process, what actions did I take?
- What signs did my primary contact give to me? Did I misread them?
- Did I listen? Sometimes the buying motivation is a few layers deep, did I ever really get there?
- Was there ever a deal? Was I a third vendor to provide cost leverage from a preferred partner? (These can be the most frustrating because they take as much or more time and energy to support, with no real opportunity for business.)
- What did I do right that shouldn’t change in my sales process? Often times we are trigger happy to throw out an entire process when a deal is not signed. This is folly. In most cases, for seasoned sales vets, fine tuning is all that is needed.
- Are there patterns emerging from deals that I did not close? This is the gold mine for a sales person. If something is correlated with a lost opportunity consistently it must be addressed ASAP. By leveraging a CRM like salesforce.com, you are able to capture as much data as you are willing to enter into the system. I would recommend having a conversation with a consultant if you do not have a resident expert in how to leverage electronic CRM for tangible sales success.
This is obviously a short list, and one that can be fine tuned to your type of sales process and product/service. If you want to look into sales process training reach out to me at ADVISA or another credible firm. True victory can be defined in how you lose. If you stay active by investigating and analyzing when things don’t go your way, you are stacking the deck for future engagements. Do not get caught feeling sorry for yourself. That’s what your competitors are hoping for!