But who should you get to find out what really happened? Whatever you do, don’t send anyone from the sales team, their managers or anybody the prospect will link with the lost sales campaign. The best person is someone distanced from the sales team, preferably a complete outsider.
To get at the truth, it is essential that the interviewer is distanced from those making the sale. The prospect will often feel guilty about having wasted people's time and will be tempted to make up polite reasons for having done so. They will also pull any punches regarding quality and this all leads to perpetuating the myth that “the sale was lost on price”.
It is important that the interview is held at the earliest possible opportunity. Decision makers will either forget their reasoning and/or begin to invent reasons for their decision which they are happy to share with unsuccessful bidders.
We offer a simple customer-friendly service which will reinforce your professional reputation. It is based on a structured interview which will generate a concise report covering:
This will give you a clear understanding of how your sales campaigns are viewed by prospects. We will also give you direct access to the consultant who carried out the interview, so you can clarify any of the views expressed and, where appropriate, take corrective action to improve your performance.
This service is obviously carried out under the strictest confidentiality, both with you and with your prospect. To carry out an effective interview we have to promise absolute confidentiality in order to encourage the interviewee to speak frankly and openly. We use senior consultants with a background in sales and marketing, so in practice we almost always persuade the prospect to allow us to share the burden of their message with you – however sensitive the issues are that are raised.
Losing a sale can be good for you! Few, if any of us, win everything; this is the very nature of selling. The sad fact is that most of us fail to find out how to improve our win rate. The mantra of listening to customers is well known … but listening to those who decide not to be our customers can reveal more:
they might even consider asking you to bid again if you demonstrate your interest by asking why you lost.