A study by Marketing Metrics found that there is only a 5-20% chance of turning sales opportunities or prospects into a client.
Not particularly positive, is it?
The only option to keep your pipeline full is to keep prospecting.
But when a sales opportunity slips through your fingers, what do you do?
There is a positive to all this, though:
The deal you just lost may turn out to be the best thing that could’ve happened to you!
Now, we can feel the cynical eyebrows being raised from here but hear us out:
Picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, ready to go again, is the most classic attribute of a successful salesperson. But upping your game to the next level – the level your competitors aren’t reaching – is understanding that the loss of a sales opportunity can be rewarding, proving you handle them the right way.
Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to turn lost sales into opportunities.
Analyse your sales process:
No matter which way you cut it, B2B sales is a numbers game.
That’s why it’s essential to evaluate your ‘lost opportunities’ data.
If you are using a CRM system to track your sales process, the information you need to evaluate your actions is easily retrieved.
You can search through the data available to you and see which deals were won and which were lost – this will help you to identify which steps were not effective.
By taking this step back to analyse the data, you can pinpoint which part of the sales process your prospect dropped off. Once you have this, you can make the required changes to your approach to improve your chances in the future.
Focus on the right sales opportunities:
That’s a scary fact on its own, but pair it with research from TAS Group that shows it takes on average 50% longer to lose a deal than win one, and it becomes genuinely shocking.
If you’re spending more time losing deals than winning them, you’re not using your time effectively.
So, as the data shows, salespeople spend valuable time managing prospects that simply aren’t ready or willing to buy. As such, the opportunity wasn’t lost – it was never going to be won in the first place!
Prospecting isn’t just finding people to sell to; it’s about finding the right people to sell to.
Start by understanding your ideal clients, then identify ways to reach prospects who fit into this profile.
Once you have this more detailed view of your ideal, be proactive and identify the lost deals way before you actually lose them.
This mentality is summarised perfectly in this video by Tony J Hughes, who coined the term ‘Lose fast – win slow’.
Understand the no’s:
The most important lessons of all can be learned from the prospects that tell you ‘no’.
Despite this, 60% of marketing and sales representatives admit they don’t conduct interviews with their lost clients.
Asking lost prospects for feedback is a huge opportunity to tap into. What doesn’t work for one prospect is likely to not work for others too.
Feedback can include questions such as:
– What were your reasons behind choosing a competitor?
– Was there anything missing that could have changed your mind at any stage?
– What was the main reason for not buying from us?
Put your prospect at ease by letting them know you’re not going to try to change their mind, and you have accepted the loss. Remember to be gracious during these calls and try not to become defensive; your job is to learn what’s really going on, which will help you in the long run.
Keeping the conversation going:
63% of prospects requesting information from your company will not purchase for at least three months, and 20% will take more than a year to buy!
Sometimes if you’ve lost a deal, it may just be that your prospect wasn’t ready at that time.
That’s why it’s important to follow up and stay at the top of their mind.
If you do, once they are ready to buy, you’ll be the first person they think of!
Master the follow-up by engaging with your prospects and providing relevant content when they need it.
This type of lead nurturing can have a significant impact on your future sales:
– Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases.
– They also produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities.
Reconnect with lost prospects:
Our final tip – don’t give up!
It is always worth reaching out again to lost prospects. By allowing time to pass since they told you they weren’t interested, their situation may have changed. Companies develop new problems and needs all the time – be ready to help solve them.
Build a follow-up system for every sales opportunity, schedule a check-up call. You want to make sure the follow-up allows for enough of a cool down. This will depend on the type of product or service you are offering and the individual clients situation.
For example, suppose your prospect rejected your offering based on an existing contract with a competitor with nine months left on it. In that case, you need to get back in contact after six months which is around the time they would start to consider their renewal. If you wait until the nine months have passed, it could be too late, and you will have lost out again!
No one likes to lose deals:
No matter what the reason losing a deal you’ve been working on for months can be a real kick in the gut. But it can also be a growth opportunity!
Each time a deal is lost, don’t just forget about it and move on. Take the time to analyse and reflect. By determining what went wrong and implementing changes, you can make sure you never lose a deal for the same reason in the future.
This makes your offering more valuable to future clients and proves to your lost prospects that you listened to them and may even bring them back to you later on down the line.
Published: 29th March 2021