“The Sales Moment; Issue #223″
If you are in sales or own a business, it is inevitable; you will lose to the competition. It is disappointing and frustrating but understanding why it happened can be valuable information on how to win them back.
I have experienced this several times in my thirty plus years in sales. Many times I have been successful in winning my customer back…sometimes not. Regardless, I always learn from the experience.
Recently, I presented a solution to a good customer and I did everything right from start to finish and he was preparing the contract. At the last minute, the owners in Japan decided they wanted to go in another direction and requested a different approach. As I prepared a new solution, the deadline was looming to have the project complete. I found myself unable to meet a hard deadline and my price was ten percent high.
When my customer called, he apologized for the long, drawn out process and said the ten percent deficit was not an issue but asked what I could do to meet the deadline. I respectfully told him the truth. I could not meet the deadline and that he should buy from my competition. It was a difficult decision but the right one for him.
I have no concern about having a chance when he does another project because I treated him the way I would want to be treated and he understood that.
I did not lose my customer. I just lost that sale. There is a big difference.
Knowing why you lost the sale is important and there could be many reasons. You may not always be at fault. Here are some reasons to consider when you lose a sale:
- Price: Sometimes the customer does not see the added value of your expertise or better quality of your product and is just looking for the best price. You have to decide how you will represent your product in the marketplace.
- Talk to the decision maker: If you are making your best pitch to the wrong person, the proper message may not get conveyed to the real decision maker. Ask who needs to be involved from the beginning and get them together.
- Change of personnel: Many companies have turn over and the new person may not know who you are and what you can do for them. Stay close to your customers and meet new people as early as possible.
- Bad customer experience: You may have done a great job selling the product but maybe there was a problem with the installation or execution of the project. Maybe they were billed the wrong amount and could not get it rectified. This can be a deal killer. Don’t mess with people’s money.
- Do not get lazy: I have made this mistake by getting comfortable and thinking they will always do business with me. If you neglect a customer you are leaving an open door opportunity for the competition to come in.
Be bold but polite and ask your customer why you lost the sale. Find out what you could have done differently. This knowledge will help you serve all your customers better and you will receive the long-term financial benefits.
Have a great week!