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6 Lessons to Learn After Losing A Sale


We’re programmed to love winning. It’s obvious when you observe children playing a board game; the winner is rejoicing in his victory while the loser is often found sulking. In reality, we learn more by losing than winning.

It took Thomas Edison hundreds of experiments before he stumbled on the exact ingredients to create a lightbulb filament. Maybe you’ve heard his quote: “I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison could have moped over his defeated attempts, but his positive attitude was a key component to his success!

Learning from failure is the perfect opportunity for growth. This principle is especially true when it comes to sales. It’s devastating when a big sale is lost. But harboring the right attitude can transform that lost sale from a negative experience to a positive one.

Understanding why you lost the sale will flip your perspective and revamp you for the next big sale. Let’s review 6 lessons you can learn from a lost sale!

Lesson #1: Reevaluate your planning and preparation

When a kid loses a board game, he instantly thinks, “Oh man, if I had done that instead, I would have won!” You probably do the same thing when you lose a sale. You review each step in your mind and wonder where you went wrong. You review each conversation, each interaction, and consider the point that tipped you from success to failure.

Reflection is a good thing! But don’t stop there. Consider how you planned and prepared for each sale - whether you scored the customer or not, whether you were successful or failed, whether it was a large or small client.

If you don’t examine your successful sales, it will be tough to understand the ones that don’t succeed. Capture the negative energy from that lost sale and morph it into motivation. Continually reevaluate your planning, preparation and sales approach. Like Edison, you’re fine-tuning your experiments until you discover the optimal balance.

Lesson #2: Track your tactics and metrics

After a lost sale, do you have hard data? If you don’t have data or a well-tracked process, it will be tough to determine where it all went wrong.

Your sales team needs to build reports off the metrics you track. These key performance indicators (KPIs) provide perspective as your sales process evolves. Record your whole sales process, from phone calls and emails; don’t forget to mark if you missed an important call or if you didn’t respond in a timely manner. Without this information, how can you know when you deviated from your normal tactics?

A sale can sour for multiple reasons. By recording your process and analytics, you can be aware of the mistakes you made and where you stepped outside of the process. Mentioning your successes and failures with a lost sale could help you earn the next big sale.

Lesson #3: You’re not in control

Little kids try to manipulate each other in a board game. Sally may encourage Matthew to choose the left path (which is detrimental) instead of the right path (which will help him win). As adults, we attempt to do the same thing in our sales. But there are a million things outside of your control. Focus on those things; cast your gaze on the unchangeable elements.

If one of those points is the reason you lost the sale, step back to see if the items under your control that can compensate for the difference. For example, you can control how quickly you respond to you prospect, but you can’t control their tight budget.

You’re human. You have emotions. Try not to let them get the best of you. Process your feelings of sadness and defeat. Then shift your heart toward the aspects of the sale that you can control. Like Edison, this is an experiment that you’re constantly tweaking with each new experience.

Lesson #4: Reevaluate your buyer personas

Sales and marketing are tightly intertwined in the business world. After you lose a sale, retrace your steps all the way back to your marketing team’s target audience. Take the process to the origin of buyer personas.

Consider if your team needs to reevaluate the target buyer to a more relevant audience. Offer tips about what prospects value or the point that you lost a sale.

If prospects are dropping early in the sales process, perhaps your target audience isn’t aligning with the messages, services, or products that you offer. Adjust your marketing efforts to bring in more qualified and relevant leads who can be better nurtured by you sales team, hopefully until the deal is closed.

Lesson #4: Pay attention to the prospects who are a good fit

Your time is valuable. It’s crucial that you understand when a prospect isn’t a good fit or has no intention of buying your product or service. Selling is about finding the right people to sell to, not just to sell to anyone.

Develop ideal buyer personas to help you identify the people who are going to be a sales win instead of a sales fail. (See lesson #4.)

Lesson #6: Don’t give up on the sales winners

You used your buyer persona to identify and communicate with an ideal client. Great job! But it wasn’t the right time for them. Don’t give up on those sales winners. Although they didn’t purchase (yet), reach back out to them after a bit of time has past. Perhaps their situation has changed and they’re prepared for your solutions to solve their problems.

By keeping detailed information, you can establish a follow-up pattern. When you lose a sale, write down a time to make a follow-up phone call. Use the same terms and contract that you offered before. For example, if you were offering them a one year contract, make your follow-up call nine months after their decline.

Need help winning?

Losing is tough. Especially after you’ve installed months of effort and time. But those losses can help you improve your sales skills and foster another sale in the future.

Each loss is an opportunity to grow. After a lost sale, reflect, analyze, review the process, and make note of any mistakes you made. Learn why a prospect said no; harness that reply to improve your work and bring about success with a subsequent sale.

Need help winning? Consult our sales and marketing experts to transform your losses into wins. Fill out the form below to learn more. We’ll be in touch soon!