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How to Make an Unsuccessful Sale a Good Learning Experience

Aug 17, 2007
Everyone has experienced the sales blues, when everything seems perfect and you are confident the sale is going to close until you hear the words, "sorry, we're going ahead with someone else." It is important that we take the emotion out of the sales loss and learn something for it, in order to learn from our mistakes and create more successful closes in the future. Always remember that you cannot always control what happened to close the lost sale, but you can chose your response. The success of your sales future is made by these choices, it is important that you make the right ones.

When you've lost a sale, it is good to go through the following steps:

1)Be a hero-try with lots of digging to save the sale, if possible until you've determined that the deal is dead. Amazingly, studies indicate that 75% of deals lost can be resurrected if the salesperson will continue to be upbeat and persistant.

2)Find out why. This information is essential because it can help you get better and make the loss give you a return on investment for your future deals.

Be direct with the customer and ask: "What could I have done differently to earn your business? You won't hurt my feelings, it'll help me to continue to improve." Then do something with the response you receive.

3)Continue to stay in touch with the contact. Frequently, the customer/prospect will rethink their decision to go to another provider right after their purchase. Keep your name in front of them and in your mailing list. It pays to check back and see how they are being treated by the new organization, you never know when they may need to make a change.

4)Sincerely thank them for their time by sending a card. Guaranteed this will differentiate you from 99% of all salespeople out there.

If the current provider has not done this, it puts you and your organization at a much higher level in the event they should decide to make a change.

5)Ask for referrals. Don't hesitate to ask for a referral, just because they didn't buy from you doesn't mean they aren't aware of others who could benefit from your services/products. In addition, you also keep the lines of communication open with the customer you lost the sale with.

6)Move on to the next opportunity. View it as a learning opportunity and don't take it personally. Know the law of numbers and the sale lost just puts you closer to your next sale.

Finally, keep in mind that you have no choice about what happens to you but by choosing the best response you will enable yourself to experience success in future deals.
About the Author
Tim Hagen, President of Sales Progress LLC, builds programs to help organizations increase sales. He has been doing this for 21 years and has helped both small and large size organizations increase their bottom line. He can be reached at http://www.SalesProgress.com or 262-240-1077.
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