So You Think You Lost the Sale?

Losing a sale is something that we’ve all experienced.  Sometimes it feels like the prospect’s mind seemed to change for no apparent reason, sometimes you had a sense that there was something negative in the mind of your prospect, but you just couldn’t figure it out. Perhaps, worse than the actual event is the discouragement you feel when you cannot determine why you lost this sale.  Then, you are left to worry about when and how you will lose the next one.

You may have analyzed these sales situations and re-examined your sales process over and over again. Were there other competitors that were being considered?  Did they decide to stick with an existing supplier?  Was the prospect just looking for a "free" education?  Was there an undisclosed decision-maker who vetoed you?  Did you miss an incomplete answer or partially ignore an objection?  Did the prospect just decide not to decide?

Reviewing a lost sales opportunity and your sales process is a good idea. However, by the time you realize that you won’t get the sale, it’s usually too late to learn the real reason.  At that point, most customers don’t want to reveal all of the details of their decision.

The time to find out why a sale is not going to go through is early in the sales process, when you’re meeting with the prospect.  Discover it in the moment. Then, you have the time to respond, and to choose your best course of action.

Of course, the idea of a lost sale implies that there was an opportunity there at one point and that you, the salesperson, somehow lost it.  In most of these cases there really was not much chance of making the sale in the first place.  The key is making that determination as soon as possible, before you spend more time, effort and resources.

For over forty years, we have observed hundreds of top-performing salespeople, in the field, while prospecting and on appointments.  The way that they solve this problem is to simply ask a complete set of direct, pertinent questions about the most common end-of-the-sale "deal-killers." They do that very early in the sales process.

Asking questions is not a new sales concept. The critical differences are in the type of question, the purpose of each question, how the questions are delivered and the how responses are handled. These questions are part of a pre-planned sequence, which is part of a mutual discovery and commitment process.

Discover what the customer wants and doesn’t want to see in your proposal, before you prepare it.  Discover whether there are other decision makers, influencers, or competitors.  Find out what may be happening in the background that could keep them from doing business with you.  These are all legitimate questions.

Attempting to close a sale without this information is the kind of strategy that creates anxiety and stress.  Success comes down to asking the right questions and acting on the answers in a way that improves your sales productivity.  These types of questions create a series of "opt-in or opt-out" discussion points for the prospect and the salesperson. Invest your time, energy and resources where you will get the best return on those investments.

Many salespeople are unwilling to ask the "hard questions."  However, you will gain the respect of most prospects when you do.  For the top producers we’ve observed, asking those questions is one of the primary reasons they are so successful.  You might often think you lost a sale when, in the same circumstances, a top producer will know it was not a real sales opportunity in the first place.

For more information on how to do this, click here.


If you want to learn the process and mindset of top producing salespeople, you want to learn more about High Probability Selling.

Until Next Time…Sell Well

Paul Bunn – High Probability Selling

Copyright 2007.


Tags: How+to+sell, The+secret+to+selling, Selling+and+Persuasion

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: