How to Analyze a Lost Sale

New sales prospects are exciting, but sales don’t always go the way you plan! The good news is, for those opportunities you don’t close, there is still plenty of value to be gained.

Remember: making the most of every lead means learning from the ones that don’t turn into closed sales

Lost sales opportunities are inevitable. Nevertheless, every lost sales lead is an amazing opportunity to improve your sales process, strengthen your sales team, and bringing you closer than ever to closing the next deal.

This article will show you how to analyze lost sales effectively, so that even your missed opportunities ultimately lead to increased sales revenue.

Benefits of Analyzing a Lost Sale

Doing a lost sales analysis encourages you to learn by exploring what could have been done better. The analysis provides your sales team with feedback that gives them a valuable experience they can apply to future sales, and new knowledge about how to close more in the future. It also strengthens communication throughout your sales team by encouraging open discussions and honest assessments.

To Analyze a Lost Sale, Revisit Your Ideal Customer

For sales reps to be successful, they need to know who the ideal customer is. This idea of the ideal customer should be revisited every time a sale that has been lost. For example, if your company begins offering a new product line, your initial idea of the ideal customer when you first started your business might no longer apply. This could cause you to lose out on sales. Any changes, even just those that come with growth, can change who your ideal customer is.

For all lost sales opportunities, try to figure out what characteristics of your ideal customer the lost prospect had been aligned with. What lead your sales people to pursue this particular customer? What are this lost prospect’s similarities and differences with others who went on to actually become customers?

Retrace Your Steps

Furthermore, after comparing and contrasting the lost opportunity with ideal customers, you need to retrace your steps at every part of the sales funnel to figure out what went wrong. Start with the sales pitch. Put yourself on the same buyer’s journey that the prospective customer went on, and assess each point:

1.    Revisit Your Communication

Look at communications with the customer. Was it personal enough? Were follow-ups well timed? Analyze points where things could have been done differently.

2.    Figure Out if You Followed the Sales Process

If an opportunity is lost, it’s possible that part of the sales process wasn’t followed. Find out if part of the process was missed, and if so, figure out what part, why, and by whom. The idea isn’t to find someone to blame, but to connect the lost opportunity with a concrete reason so that you know what action to take.

3.    Look at a Timeline of the Lost Sale

Use your customer relationship management system, or CRM, to look at a timeline of the lost sale. Did the buying process seem to stall at one particular point? Was there a “turning point” where the customer’s interest clearly began to decrease? If you can use a timeline of the sales process to see exactly where things broke down, you can do a better win/loss analysis. This helps you diagnose the problem, and close more sales in the future.

4.    Consider How Objections Were Handled

Look at each time the prospect presented an objection. Was it handled as well as it could have been? What was the customer’s response after you addressed their objections? Fine-tuning how you handle objections will lead to fewer missed opportunities.

Understand the WHY

In order to analyze a lost sale effectively, the most important thing is to understand WHY the sale was lost. Only then can you determine what changes would have led to a different outcome. Did the customer’s needs change? If their needs weren’t a good fit, why did the conversation start to begin with? Did the customer’s short or long-term goals change along the way?

Lost sales can also be a matter of bad timing. Maybe you tried to sell when a customer’s budget was already used up, or after they had already signed on with a competitor’s company. If a prospect does go to a competitor, try to analyze your pricing versus theirs, and see if you can offer a better value.

If a competing company wins a customer over, you might not have communicated well enough what makes your company different—and better—than the competition. Figure out what you can offer that your competitor cannot, and you’ll give yourself a leg up during those conversations.

Final Thoughts

Thankfully, you have more tools than ever to analyze every lost opportunity in-depth. CRM software is a critical pillar of every sales technology suite, but now there are even learning algorithms that can help automate the assessment of lost sales and collect data from each opportunity, giving you insights that a human analysis might have missed. Make the most of these tools, and you’ll get more out of your sales team.

Lost sales are your best opportunity to strengthen your sales and marketing teams. Lose too many, and your business might have to close down. But make the most of every single lost opportunity with an in-depth analysis, and you’ll start closing more sales than ever!