We spoke with a customer who did not to choose our client’s solution following an extensive evaluation. The main reason for this loss was that the customer had no confidence in our client’s ability to deliver a solution based on the fact that the client did not fully understand its customer’s business needs. This was represented by the ratings for sales performance, solution features, and company drivers.

One of the reasons that our client did not adequately understand the customer’s business needs was that the sales team didn’t take the time to ask the right questions. This was evidenced by the client presentation and the shallow responses to customer questions when asked about solution capabilities. Our client’s implementation plan was also questioned as being “really quick” compared to other vendors, another indication of our client’s lack of understanding of the customer’s business needs.

In many of our interviews with buyers, understanding business needs is a factor that repeatedly comes up in feedback, regardless of vertical or customer segment. While this would seem to be an elementary practice in order to be an effective sales rep, it’s clearly a driver that not all sales teams are doing consistently or adequately.

As you can see, there are many potential reasons for losses. While sales reps and sales leaders sometimes shy away from loss reviews because they assume any negative feedback will be targeted at them, buyers frequently cite factors outside of the sales team’s immediate control that can negatively impact the final selection decision. Feedback is not intended to point the finger at sales teams, rather, feedback should point to how they could win more deals.

Why Good Sales Teams Lose

Some of our clients lost deals even when they were the preferred vendor (the incumbent, actually) going into the evaluation. Why did they lose?

  • In one instance, our client was preferred by the senior management team within the customer’s organization. However, the evaluation team described the client as having an “attitude,” being “ridiculously expensive,” and “completely inflexible” on pricing. The competitor, meanwhile, was willing to do a custom order and arranged for its CEO to speak with the customer’s evaluation team.
  • In another instance, the respondent stated she didn’t want to switch vendors because it was more work for her. Ultimately, our client “didn’t come through” on important solution upgrades it had been promising customers for months and are now standard within the industry. Our client’s aging technology has cost this customer hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
  • In a third instance, the customer actually wanted to expand its business with our client and had no intention of changing providers. However, our client made the contract expansion discussions and payment terms very difficult. The ultimate deal breaker was when our client openly questioned the customer’s long-term viability in its market.

In all three instances, the respondents told us, “It was their opportunity to lose.”

How NOT to lose an opportunity

No one likes to lose, but in sales, it is going to happen. Instead of looking around for someone to blame, the key is to gather as much information as possible about why you lose and then apply those learnings to future opportunities. If done correctly, the improvements made as a result of the feedback should help to reduce the number of losses that happen.

Would you like access to the questions we ask that deliver the answers as to why good sales teams are losing opportunities? Download our free ebook on understanding why you lost in competitive sales deals and you’ll be on your way to turning losses into wins.

eBook: Why Good Sales Teams LoseNew eBook: Why Good Sales Teams Lose

This eBook will help you understand the strategic questions you need to answer to uncover the reasons for lost deals. It explores the need to understand the loss drivers that keep you from winning in complex sales. You’ll learn the critical steps needed to help your sales team take the right approach to convert buyers to customers.

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