sales losses

Use your past sales losses to inform your future wins

The end of the year marks a time of reflection — for individuals, for communities and even for B2B sales performance.

All B2B organizations keep a pulse on sales numbers, and most review these against yearly and quarterly benchmarks as well. But there is a distinction between reviewing how well your salespeople may or may not have met the mark and gaining real insights into what is working and what is not.

Where does the difference in review come into play?

Rather than breezing through numbers and making a rally cry of doing better, you must learn to sit in the discomfort of your losses to truly come out of them for the better. Sales teams need to dig deeper to uncover actionable insights and effective strategies of change. And there are three areas your losses should inform and affect into the future. 

Create More Compelling Use Cases

The first step to successfully engaging a buyer at all is ensuring they see the need to be engaged. In other words: they need to understand their pain. They need to suddenly feel exasperated by their pain. And then they must be able to envision a future where this pain has been resolved and imagine the great ease and success that follows.

In essence, you must help them overcome their status quo. Get them out of their office chairs to take action.

Look at your past losses with prospective buyers or past buyers. Did they see a compelling reason to change their current situation (e.g. productivity from automating elements of a manual process)? Did your salespeople show them or merely dive into your solution right away?

At this point, even with compelling conversations and use cases, the action they take may not amount to buying your solution. But by this stage you have already created value for them, significant at that. So the chances they will consider you for more insight and more help are substantial.

Revisit Your Value Proposition

What you sell is not a product or service or even a technology platform or experience. Buyers are not searching for another gadget or gizmo on which to spend their dollars. They want value — so you sell value as the outcome.

But sometimes the value you think you are offering is not as compelling to the buyer as you would think. And even if it is truly revolutionary to your target audience, the value is often not communicated clearly — and in the right messaging framework to convince your buyer.

Revisit your past sales cycles and trip-ups. How can you add even more value for your buyer? How have you been communicating your value in the past? How well are buyers understanding what this really means for their future outcomes or do they just understand features of your solution? Are they seeing this value consistently across your website, your sales presentations, your leave-behinds, your conversations, your social media? If not, why?

Today’s buyer makes their decisions with input from many sources. Not only do you need to ensure you have a solid value proposition targeted to your buyer — you need to ensure it shines across all your platforms.

Refine Your Differentiation

After you have (1) convinced your target buyer that they have a pain significant enough to overcome and (2) you prove your value to help overcome that pain, you must face the music of competition.

“She has a point about my pain, too,” your buyer says. “She has proven she can add value to my organization as well.”

This leaves the last and final question of the buyer that makes the difference between landing a sale and seeing one handed away to your competition next door: “What makes you different?”

Rarely is the answer one thing. Yet, you likely cannot overburden your buyer with a whole laundry list of what makes you the next best thing since humans discovered fire.

Rather, as a buyer, you need to ensure differentiation is apparent in:

  • The value of the solution you are offering
  • The interactions with your people and platforms
  • The uniqueness and memorableness of your company

You should not have to tell your buyer why you are different but you should rather be showing them all along the buying journey. And in looking at your past losses, you must ask yourself whether or not you are doing this effectively — and if your differentiation is valuable enough for a buyer to choose you over all the other alternatives.

It is challenging to revisit our failures — and yet as Thomas Edison has been famously quoted for saying:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found one thousand ways that won’t work.”

For more, watch this interview on Selling Power TV where Selling Power founder and CEO Gerhard Gschwandtner and I discuss the why behind winning and losing a sale. 


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