As full-time telecom sales agents, you are constantly trying to replicate success. You take note of what works well and you develop a sales process. Whether that is a formal, written process for your organization or just your own personal ritual, you repeat proven tactics and techniques. But what about your process for lost sales?
You are well advised, in any task, to learn from our failures – but how do you learn from lost sales? By developing a quick Lost Sales Process, you can analyze your losses and correct any destructive patterns you find.
Vent and Disengage
No matter the situation, it is difficult not to take rejection personally. This is why you’re allowed five minutes, and only five minutes, to vent, wallow, or pout. Once those five minutes have passed, move on. Distract yourself with an activity where you can burn off some of that frustration. Go for a walk, do a set of jumping jacks, run up and down the stairs, play with the kids – it doesn’t matter. Try to gain a sense of clarity in order to move on to the next step so you can reflect on the lost opportunity more objectively.
It is always helpful to find someone willing to offer an outside perspective to help you find missteps you might not have noticed. We’ll get to that. Before you are influenced by any outside remarks, it is time for a personal evaluation.
Take a moment to ask yourself a few quick questions:
-What went well in the prospecting process?
-What was the point where you believe you lost the sale? Did the loss come as a surprise to you?
-What did the winning competitor do differently?
After you’ve reflected on your own view of the lost sale, reach out to the client to get a little feedback.
Be prepared for generic answers from clients; Studies show that only about 40% of prospects and clients are completely honest when answering why they turned down a solution. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news – so to make the situation less confrontational and more analytical, consider creating an online survey or having an assistant or marketing representative make the follow up call. Try to include a couple of simple but open ended questions like:
- What needs did you feel were not met by the proposed solution?
- What did you like about our services? What didn’t you like?
After you receive feedback from your client, have a short brainstorming session with the team of people who helped you with your presentation and proposal. Share the client’s feed back with them, ask what they felt worked, and find out if they saw something you might not have.
Record in CRM
Wrap up your process by updating your CRM. Your best bet is to add a field for “Reason for Opportunity Lost” with a drop down menu and a separate section for notes. Suggested menu options are:
- Wrong Decision Maker
- Unqualified Lead
- Wrong Pain Points Addressed
- Too Much Contact
- Not Enough Contact
Schedule yourself to run a report every six months based on “Reason for Opportunity Lost.” This way, you can catch the most common reasons your team loses opportunities and work to correct them.
Don’t let all of the work you put into prospecting and proposals go to waste. Developing a Lost Sales Process can ensure that a lost opportunity does not equal a lost lesson.
What are some of your experiences with lost sales? How did they help you with future sales?
Until we perfect lead generation or can afford to hire the marketing team behind Apple, cold calling will always be a part of the job of an Independent Telecom Agent. Here are a few of ideas to make your calls go a little smoother.
Do your research!
It surprises me how many sales calls I get at work for services I sell myself. This may seem like a rookie mistake, but a couple minutes of research can go a long way for anyone. With a quick Google or LinkedIn search, you can typically find all you need to know about a company. By learning out what they sell, how many employees or locations they have, and what kind of press releases they have posted, you can typically determine whether they are really in your target market before you pick up the phone.
Make friends, not sales
The most successful sales people I have met all have one thing in common – they’re personable. Most of them can make anyone laugh within the first couple minutes of meeting them. It makes sense – people want to work with people they like. Be confident and conversational, not pushy and rushed. New to the independent sales world and think that strength in sales can’t be taught? Think again. Join a group like Toastmasters or find a mentor who has a strong sales record.
Keep track of calls and conversations
What’s even worse than failing to research a prospect? Finding out that you have already given your introductory speech to the person on the other end of the line. There are several free CRM tools out there to keep notes on which companies you have called, to whom you spoke, when the best time to call back is, etc. Use them.
Making cold calls takes a little bravery and a lot of resilience. Making successful cold calls takes a little wit and a lot of preparation. What has led you to be successful on cold calls? Any horror stories?
Who is your audience?
Is your core competency telecom or design?
Humans are complex creatures by nature. We have millions of thoughts a day, and our emotions can change from positive to negative and back to positive in a very short time. But one thing remains constant about us when it comes to our motivation:
We are always either moving toward pleasure OR moving away from pain.
This one concept is critically important for telecom agents to understand when you are selling your services. Think about it…there really are no other options besides increasing pleasure or avoiding pain. Consider any action you take on a regular basis and ask yourself why you do it. It’s either because you want more pleasure or less pain.
For example, you:
- Pay your mortgage and credit card bills on time to avoid late fees (avoid pain)
- You work out regularly at the gym to stay healthy and avoid disease (avoid pain) but also to look good on the beach (increase pleasure)
- You indulge in your favorite past-time or hobby because it makes you feel happy and alive (increase pleasure)
What is even more essential to understand is this:
MOST people are FAR more motivated by fear of pain than by promise of pleasure.
You can see evidence of this everywhere. Like the person who opts to go to driving school in order to avoid increased car insurance rates, or the child who works hard in school to avoid being grounded or missing the big dance. We simply are more likely to take action when we know the lack of action will result in some type of pain or punishment for us.
What does this mean for your telecom sales business? Plenty! When you understand that your prospective customer has fears and potential pain points, you can position your sales messages to those fears. Here’s a simple process for doing this effectively.
- During the discovery phase, try to uncover as many fears and pain points your potential customer has as possible. They may fear not being able to scale fast enough with their growing business, or potentially losing business by having unreliable services. The trick here is that they may not use these words to describe their fears. Instead, they will say things like, "We need guaranteed uptime," or "Scalability is important to us." It’s your job to take what they say and uncover the underlying pain or fear.
- Organize the pain points and fears you have uncovered in a list for easy reference. If you use a CRM tool, you may want to put them in there so others working on the account can see them as well.
- When presenting your solution, begin by reviewing your prospect’s fears and pain points. Then show them how your service will greatly reduce or eliminate that fear. Refer back to the pain points frequently throughout your presentation. The more pain your prospect feels, the more likely he or she will be to take action to move away from it.
- Use the pain points you have discovered to outline a "why now" statement. Your prospect will quickly take action when there is a very strong reason to do so associated with his or her pain points and fears. Are rate increases happening at the end of the month? Is the company in danger of maxing out their bandwidth and losing potential business? When you give your prospective customer strong reasons to act now, your success closing ratio will greatly increase.
Remember, most of us are more motivated by trying to avoid pain than by seeking pleasure. The better you understand this principle, and the better you incorporate it into your sales techniques and presentations, the more successful you will be!
Please share any questions or examples you have of this principle in action in the comments below.