It’s interesting to see how different sales people and organisations deal with lost deals. In light of the fact that most sales people including me, have an initial engagement to close ratio of less than 50%, meaning we lose more than we win, you’d think there would be more of a focus on understanding the reason for the outcomes of our opportunities. A better understand of why things turned out as they did, more importantly, how to change things to change the outcome moving forward should be of interest to sales types.
Even among those who do have a formal review process, they at times are limited by their scope and process.
A proper review of a loss is not easy, and may in fact be bruising to the rep involved. Which is one reason, I believe, that the rep involved in a lost deal should not be part of the process for loss review, at least not in parts involving the prospect in question. This is not some form of punishment, it is to ensure you get the best feedback for driving change.
Almost always, when you send the rep in to find out why they lost, you get no usable feedback. First off, the prospect, having made their choice has now shifted to implementing what they just bought (from the other guy). The easiest thing is to tell the rep it was price and product related differences. The reps have egos to protect, so what better than having the convenience of having price and product to blame. “See, it’s just as I and the rest of the team have been telling you….”
You really want this guy walking around the sales floor looking good for loosing?
If you are looking for loss reviews to have real meaning and bring change, not only should you have someone else do it, but have a plan and specific areas that you will probe. Depending on the size of your deals and company, your best option is to go with a third part specializing doing post mortems.
One such professional I spoke to, told me that most of the time they uncover things the rep was not even aware of. As you may expect, reps spent their time on the “product selection” elements, even before the prospect(s) were at that stage of their buying process. As a result, the rep was beat long before price and features were even on the table.
In essence, the rep brought nothing new to the discussion, and early in the buying process was relegated to being the “low end benchmark”. As soon as another vendor/rep took the discussion to a direction that had nothing to do with product, but instead, to place that everything to do with the buyers’ objectives, business realities, and impacts they were seeking, the PP rep (Price Product), became the designated low end comparable, which is why he/she was allowed to stick around, and also why you need someone else to do the post mortems.
While you can’t relitigate the deal, you do have to make sure that you get to the core issue(s). On the surface this may seem like it is about why the rep blew it, but it is really about understanding what needs to be different next time. And if the rep objects, you just remind them that in reality, they were a stranger in their own deal to begin with, so it may as well be so in the post mortem, especially if you really want to learn and change.