July 26, 2012


In the sales profession, it is inevitable that even the most promising transactions fall through despite the best efforts of the salesperson. One of the things that separate the top professionals from the lesser ones is how they deal with these failed closes. One can become severely dejected after losing out on a potentially huge commission, or leverage the lost sale as a learning and business-building experience.

Here are some sales training ideas to teach sales personnel how to recover from lost sales in a winning manner.

Do not argue or belittle the decision

Although being too nice does not work in high-stakes B2B sales, it does pay to take the high ground when a sale is lost, even if the salesperson thinks the buyer made a bad decision. Denigrating a competitor almost always reflects poorly on the person doing so (consider the poor taste left in your mouth when viewing political attack ads). It also insults the prospect’s judgment, especially in cases where the competition’s offering was the better choice.

Ask what you could have done better

If asked, a prospect might be willing to open up and share exactly why they didn’t choose your product or service. Perhaps there was something unclear with the way the bid was presented, which should be remedied for future presentations. Or maybe they just didn’t like the salesperson due to some social faux pas, in which case he should hand off that account to someone else and work on his social graces. The point is to learn from the lost sale to improve future sales calls.

There might even be a reason that can be handled right on the spot to save the sale — such as “we really needed it by Wednesday” which would of course be handled with “if I could have it to you by Wednesday, would you be prepared to move forward with us?”

Offer backup services

The salesperson should firmly establish themselves as the only rational choice in the mind of the prospect should their chosen supplier fail them. He should ask to be given the opportunity be a back-up supplier should this occur, even suggesting a small order, such as 10 percent of the buyer’s need, to prove himself right now.

If the buyer declines, the chances that they will call your firm should she grow dissatisfied with her current choice are high.

Thank them sincerely

Sending a brief thank you letter after a failed sales visit is rarely done by salespeople. One of the easier sales training ideas to implement, this will help a salesperson stand out as a professional. An effective note is something along the lines of, “Thanks for letting us make a presentation, as we know how valuable your time is. While I am sorry we couldn’t help you this time, we look forward to exploring opportunities to serve you in the future.”

Check in periodically

Sales training ideas should include CRM software tips. Details of each sales call, including the reasons for the failure, should be recorded in order to follow up with a note or phone call at least every quarter. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a truism that applies in sales, so top salespeople do not let prospects forget they exist and are ready at the first hint a buyer is ready for a change.

By taking it on the chin and keeping one’s emotions in check, the salesperson becomes causative rather than experiencing ill effects from a lost sale. Sales training ideas and tips to build confidence in this area are well worth researching and implementing.