19 Sep 2016

Sales Tips: WHY Good Sales Teams Lose

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19 Sep 2016

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<h1>Sales Tips: Understanding Why Good Sales Teams Lose in Competitive B2B Opportunities</h1>
<em><span class=”post-meta-infos” style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><span class=”blog-author minor-meta”>by <span class=”entry-author-link”><span class=”vcard author”><span class=”fn”>Carolyn Galvin, <a href=”https://www.primary-intel.com”>Primary Intelligence</a></span></span></span></span></span></em>
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<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Sales losses are hard. And they’re especially hard when&nbsp;the engagement has been long, difficult, and complex.&nbsp;Sales teams often feel as though they’ve given their best&nbsp;proposal, their best price, their best value proposition.&nbsp;But sometimes, that just isn’t enough to seal the deal.</span></p>
<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>After a loss, it’s tempting to walk away and not look&nbsp;back. After all, looking back can be painful. Better to&nbsp;start over with a fresh opportunity, right? Not necessarily.</span></p>
<h3><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Using Win Loss Analysis to Learn From the Past and Win in the Future</span></h3>
<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>It’s true that understanding losses can dredge up painful&nbsp;memories. But looking back and analyzing what went&nbsp;well, and not so well, can also provide insights for the&nbsp;next competitive opportunity. Not understanding what&nbsp;caused you to lose will cause you to repeat past mistakes.</span></p>
<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>In <a href=”https://www.primary-intel.com/resources/win-loss-analysis-strategize-your-results/” style=”color: #152d53;”>Win Loss Analysis</a>, loss drivers—reasons for losing&nbsp;those hard-fought competitive deals—can be broken&nbsp;down into several different categories:</span></p>
<h4><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>1. Sales Effectiveness:</span></h4>
<ul>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How effective was the sales approach in convincing the&nbsp;buyer that their offering was better than that of the&nbsp;competitor’s?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How well did the sales team know the product or&nbsp;service they were selling? Could reps answer questions&nbsp;about the product’s functionality? If not, did they enlist&nbsp;the help of a technical expert to fully address the&nbsp;buyer’s concerns?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Was the sales team responsive when the buyer&nbsp;reached out for information or follow-up detail? How&nbsp;quickly did sales get back to the buyer?Was the&nbsp;response in the medium in which the buyer prefers to&nbsp;communicate (email, text, live call, etc.)?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How well did the sales team understand the buyer’s&nbsp;needs? Did they take the time to do <br>discovery with the&nbsp;buyer to really understand their pain points? Or did&nbsp;sales lead with a discussion about their own solution’s&nbsp;capabilities without fully understanding what was&nbsp;relevant to the buyer?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How well did sales demonstrate the product and&nbsp;company’s capabilities? Was the presentation&nbsp;personalized to the buyer’s company, such as using&nbsp;their company logo? Or was the presentation&nbsp;generic, unpolished, or too high level? Was an online&nbsp;presentation offered when the buyer really wanted&nbsp;an on-site visit?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Did the sales team facilitate the purchase transaction&nbsp;for the buyer, including transitions between groups&nbsp;within the vendor organization, contract discussions,&nbsp;and legal hurdles?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How well did sales understand the buyer’s industry?&nbsp;Did they research macro environmental forces shaping&nbsp;the buyer’s environment? Did they dive deep into the&nbsp;buyer’s firm, as well as competitive pressures, to better&nbsp;understand the operating environment?</span></li>
</ul>
<h4><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>2. Solution Capabilities:</span></h4>
<ul>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How effective was the solution that was proposed in&nbsp;meeting the buyer’s needs? Did it address key pain&nbsp;points highlighted by the buyer?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Was the solution intuitive? Did it have a good look and&nbsp;feel? An easy-to-use interface? What was the buyer’s&nbsp;first and last impression?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Was an explanation given for different configurations,&nbsp;options, and customizations that are available for the&nbsp;product? Can customers scale up or down as business&nbsp;needs change? How easy or difficult is this to actually&nbsp;accomplish?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How well did the solution compare to competitors’&nbsp;offerings? Were key differentiators of the solution&nbsp;described by segment, vertical, and/or geography?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Is there a partner ecosystem for customers who may&nbsp;fall outside of traditional solution fulfillment? How was&nbsp;this positioned to the buyer, including responsibility for&nbsp;service and support issues that may arise?</span></li>
</ul>
<h4><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>3. Company Impact:</span></h4>
<ul>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How solid is the company’s reputation? Is the firm&nbsp;recognized as a leader in the market? A laggard?&nbsp;Why does that perception exist and how can a good&nbsp;reputation be leveraged and a poor reputation be&nbsp;improved?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How effective is the organization’s service and support&nbsp;capabilities? How long are hold times when customers&nbsp;want to talk or text with the support team? What’s&nbsp;the abandonment rate for service requests? Are SLAs&nbsp;consistently being met?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Were customers provided with solid customer reference&nbsp;accounts that underscore the benefits of the solutions&nbsp;being offered? If prospects ask reference accounts&nbsp;for additional references, will those customers also&nbsp;provide positive feedback?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How well was the organization’s long-term financial&nbsp;viability demonstrated to buyers so that prospects are&nbsp;assured the firm will be around over the long term? For&nbsp;start-up companies, this may be of particular concern&nbsp;for buyers.</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How much experience can be cited in the buyer’s&nbsp;industry? Are there specific accounts that can be&nbsp;highlighted in which industry-specific problems were&nbsp;solved similar to what the prospect is facing today?</span></li>
</ul>
<h4><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>4. Pricing Model:</span></h4>
<ul>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Was the price of the solution higher or lower than theother short-listed vendors?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Was pricing higher in some areas and lower in others&nbsp;(i.e., low licensing fees but higher professional services&nbsp;</span><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>fees)?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>If your price was higher, is pricing causing you to lose&nbsp;deals?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>If your price was lower, are you leaving money on the&nbsp;</span><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>table?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Did the buyer see value in purchasing your solution?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How did you demonstrate that value?</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>How understandable is your pricing structure? Do&nbsp;you intentionally try to obfuscate pricing to fool your&nbsp;buyers?</span></li>
</ul>
<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>As you can see, there are many potential reasons for&nbsp;losses. While sales reps and sales leaders sometimes&nbsp;shy away from loss reviews because they assume any&nbsp;<a href=”https://www.primary-intel.com/blog/win-loss-concerns-from-sales-removing-bitter-from-the-sweet/” style=”color: #152d53;”>negative feedback will be targeted at them</a>, buyers&nbsp;frequently cite factors outside of the sales team’s&nbsp;immediate control that can negatively impact the final&nbsp;selection decision. Feedback is not intended to point the&nbsp;finger at sales teams, rather, feedback should point to&nbsp;</span><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>how they could win more deals.</span></p>
<h3><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Understanding Your Market Position Measured Against Competitors</span></h3>
<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Understanding where you stand in these different&nbsp;categories is important. But equally, if not more&nbsp;critical, is understanding where you stand vis-a-vis&nbsp;your competitors. By understanding your performance&nbsp;in relation to other firms, you’re more accurately&nbsp;understanding your relative areas of strength and&nbsp;weakness, leading to success or failure. When asking for&nbsp;feedback, most Win Loss interviews will request (and&nbsp;buyers will provide) feedback about all short-listed&nbsp;vendors, thereby providing competitive comparisons&nbsp;and differentiation.</span></p>
<h3><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Turn Data into Action</span></h3>
<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>It’s also important to act upon buyer feedback,&nbsp;particularly when it’s constructive in nature. Most B2B&nbsp;buyers, after going through a multi-month (in some&nbsp;cases, multi-year) evaluation and procurement process,&nbsp;will gladly give their input. Not only were these buyers&nbsp;heavily invested in the details of their firm’s evaluation,&nbsp;they also have a genuine desire to see the greatest&nbsp;number of vendors survive and thrive, providing&nbsp;buyers with the highest number of choices for future&nbsp;consideration.</span></p>
<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><a href=”http://ow.ly/b9iI3016aOb” class=”alignright” style=”color: #152d53;”><span class=”image-overlay overlay-type-extern”></span></a>One way of putting findings into action is to <a href=”https://www.primary-intel.com/blog/power-of-discovery-sessions/” style=”color: #152d53;”>conduct&nbsp;360 reviews</a>, asking not just buyers for their feedback,&nbsp;but account teams and those in supporting roles as well.&nbsp;At Primary Intelligence, we help clients put feedback&nbsp;into action by conducting 360-degree review sessions.&nbsp;After talking to buyers to collect their feedback from&nbsp;the evaluation, we then talk to account teams and others&nbsp;involved in the proposal (such as pricing, product, and&nbsp;support groups) to understand likely reasons for buyer&nbsp;perceptions.</span></p>
<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>When sales teams tell us what they did that was so&nbsp;effective and contributed to a “win,” we help them&nbsp;put those best practices into place throughout their&nbsp;organizations. Likewise, when buyers identify a root&nbsp;cause problem that pushed an opportunity into the “loss”&nbsp;column, we help clients understand what led to those&nbsp;outcomes as well.</span></p>
<h3><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Bringing It All Together</span></h3>
<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Having a greater understanding of loss drivers—factors that caused you to lose against other shortlisted&nbsp;vendors—is critical. While it’s hard to get over&nbsp;the initial disappointment and shock of a loss, taking a&nbsp;deep breath and asking for sincere feedback will help&nbsp;you and your teams to improve over the long term. And&nbsp;that’s what makes winning organizations consistently&nbsp;successful.</span></p>
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