No one measures our failures as critically as we do ourselves. As sales professionals, we enter selling opportunities with high hopes and clear expectations of a quick closure only to have potential buyers turn us down, close the door, and walk away. As difficult as failure feels, it can actually offer insights that will improve not just the next opportunity, but every opportunity after that. Here’s how to contemplate next steps after experiencing these typical “sales fails”:
Missing sales goals
The challenge with missing a sales target is identifying which of the many factors involved in the sales process interfered with sales success. Take a moment to evaluate your activities within your sales efforts: are you too easily distracted by other things? Are you too focused on trivial matters and missing the big picture? Are you projecting your ideas of what the clients want instead of listening to what they are telling you? Any step within the sales process can throw up a barrier that you might not see without intentionally looking for it.
Losing (and not closing) the sale
Despite all your effort, your newest prospect closed the door instead of the transaction. It may have happened because his or her company was unclear of its needs or their staff failed to understand the benefits of your product. Or the sales fail might have happened because you were pushing too hard on points they weren’t interested in hearing. In either case, learn from the experience. If your prospect isn’t clear on its own needs, you can’t help them. If you’ve made a mistake by not paying attention, promise yourself to do better with the next prospect, then go out looking for that opportunity.
Not understanding the customer
As great as your solution might be, if you’re not understanding – and pitching to – your customer’s problem, you’re risking watching them walk away. Your one product may offer solutions to dozens of different problems, and it’s your job to clearly identify exactly what problem your current client is having. Tailoring your pitch to the product’s reality is also critical; over-promising but under-delivering may not kill the immediate sale, but it will certainly chill all future sales to that client.
Just as every successful sale represents a lesson in doing things right, so does a failed sale present a lesson in how not to do things wrong. Learn from every sales opportunity and maximize your ability while you grow your sales career.