You may not know why or how you lose deals, but there are a handful of reasons. Avoid the actions and behaviors that cause clients to disengage and look elsewhere for someone who can help them with their business.
Losing Before You Start
You may have seen a salesperson send an email to a contact asking whether they want the salesperson to go away or have been eaten by a crocodile. It is supposed to be cute and funny. Imagine your contact is struggling to straighten out their business. Do they need the help of a goofy salesperson, or do they need someone competent to help them improve their results?
Losing at the Starting Line
It is easy to lose in a first meeting. Too much rapport building early on will prove you are a time-waster. Too much talk about your company and your clients will cause you to lose the client’s attention. Too little value will cause your contacts to politely thank you for your time and ask you to call them in the next week, at which point you can be certain you failed the audition.
You will need a better first meeting if you don’t want to lose the opportunity before you create it.
Knowing Nothing About the Business
Salespeople regularly say something like this to their contacts: “So tell me about what your company does.” And in that second and a half, any opportunity disappears forever. If you will not make the couple of clicks that get you to their website, you show that you are not going to bother doing the reading and research that will help your prospective clients on a strategic level. When you say this to buyers, they believe you know nothing about their business. More and more, you are going to notice that your prospective clients are looking for experts with authority.
Knowing Nothing About Their Industry
We are drowning in information, yet so many salespeople refuse to use it. This is part two of knowing the client. Your contact will have a difficult time considering you if you ask know-nothing questions about their business, no matter how large your client roster and how amazing your solutions are.
It’s your job to help your clients. It’s not their job to teach you things you should already know. In a single hour, you could learn enough to be able to show up with a solid foundation of knowledge about the client’s industry. If other sales reps at your organization have already won clients in your contact’s industry, this becomes even easier. Ask them what they know and how they best advise their clients. Invest the time early so you can prove to your contacts that you are worthy of their attention.
A Lack of Business Acumen
The letter B that begins the term B2B stands for the word business. The second B in B2B also stands for business. As a salesperson, you are a business advisor. If you believe otherwise, you are failing your clients and yourself. It is difficult for a businessperson to take the advice of someone who knows nothing about business. Your prospective client is hoping to meet a person with the business acumen to help them do better business.
Try as you may, a lack of business acumen can cause you to lose. It reveals a lack of interest in business when your contact is looking for a peer, not a peddler.
Failing to Create Value
In every communication and conversation with your prospective client, you are responsible for creating value for them. Salespeople who still use a legacy approach will find that their contacts don’t get the sales experience they need. Your contacts are looking for help with a business decision they make infrequently. When you are unable to give them the valuable information they need, your potential customer thanks you for your time and tells you they’ll follow up. And you’ll never hear from them again.
Of all the ways to lose a deal, this one seems to be the most common. When you believe you are supposed to sell your client your solution, you fail to create the value they need.
An Explanation of Losing Deals to This Point
Many of the reasons you lose deals are due to your lack of credibility, something you could remedy if you worked harder on being an expert and an authority. Your credibility is one part of developing trust, but it’s not something you’ve likely been trained in or taught. If your contact doesn’t believe you will wow their senior leaders, you will be in trouble on big deals.
Charlie Green, the author of The Trusted Advisor and, my favorite, The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook, would tell you that you need to be reliable. When you make a commitment, you need to keep it.
When you tell your contact you are going to send a case study you mentioned, you must send that paper. If you tell them you will do something, you must do what you promised. Your contact will have a tough time buying from a person who is unreliable. Should they buy, they would have to worry about whether what you said was true, or whether they will be embarrassed in front of their peers and their leaders.
In sales, it is the truth at any price. When your client can’t count on your word, they will not be willing to take the risk.
Reasons You Lose Deals
The first couple of reasons you lose deals happen before you even meet your contact because you demonstrate that you are not serious. Other reasons emerge in your first meeting, when you fail your audition by not impressing your contacts. It is no longer acceptable to be a know-nothing in B2B sales. You must have a solid understanding of the client’s business and their industry. A lack of business acumen will also cause you to lose deals because businesspeople are interested in business.
An inability to create value will cause you to lose by failing to help the client learn what they need to know to improve their business results. If you tend to be sketchy, promising and not delivering on what you promised, you will not be trusted with the client’s business.
Any salesperson who isn’t One-Up is going to lose to salespeople who know things their client doesn’t and have the skills to help them succeed. Sales reps who don’t know or refuse to improve themselves and their approach will continue to lose deals to better salespeople, the kind that believe they are a consultative business advisor.