Do you know where your lost deals are going? We know!
Lost deals are a fact of sales life. One-off deals happen all the time. They are occasionally ephemeral. But lost deals are not always one-offs. In fact, they can be very consistent in nature and patterns may emerge over time that you can use to predict closing wins and sell more closed-won deals with your team and clients.
After analyzing data from across industries and speaking with hundreds of sales leaders we’ve compiled these notes on how to define, identify and learn from lost deals.
Defining when a deal is lost is crucial to your forecasting strategy
Any opportunity that comes into your CRM should only end up in two places either closed-lost or closed-won. Do you use communication from wins to coach your reps? If your answer is “no”, focus on understanding the impact of various stakeholders to make a deal happen. Do this for every ICP and for every product that you sell.
Ask your reps at what point decision-makers enter your funnel and what difference it makes to your deal progression. Going as far back as a few years to look into this will highlight the deeper indicators of closing a deal. Whether you use MEDDICC or BANT or any other scoring process make sure you include this new list of successful traits into your mix.
Revisit this exercise as often as you can to understand whether purchase behavior has changed. Listen to all the recordings from lost deals and understand whether the opportunity was qualified in the first place. It’s even important to take “exit interviews” or ask for 15 mins from your lost deals to understand what part of the buying process needs improvement. It’s often as simple as conducting a survey or offering a 15$ amazon gift card in exchange for a few minutes with your prospect but can go miles for your selling process.
Lost deals have fewer contacts engaged and lower email communication
As deals get more complex and deal sizes increase the number of email touchpoints required to realize value with stakeholders goes up 2-3x. Closed-won deals saw over 40% more communication towards the end stages with multiple contacts. Understanding these leading indicators is important to gauge the direction of your deal.
Prospect responsiveness is a comprehensive indicator of your deal. Spend time with your ops and data teams to understand these trends across ICPs and teams as you may have situations where a prospect responds every few weeks or maybe every few days. Including these indicators while building your forecasts will significantly increase forecast accuracy and prevent revenue leakage. Here are three things you can do right away:
- Set Agendas for every meeting:
Sending an agenda in advance of a meeting helps show your team's planning abilities and establishes the meeting's objective. Be honest about the agenda; if your reps are more interested in discussing price, put it on the list. It might seem like a deliberate pressure strategy to leave something so important off the table as pricing just to surprise your prospects with it later.
- Discuss the next steps before ending every meeting:
Reps often forget or leave setting the agenda for the next interaction to email threads and follow-ups. This can lead to prospects becoming uninterested or unresponsive often due to simple reasons like personal leaves, strategy changes, or internal roadblocks. Keep some time towards the end of every meeting to clearly summarize the conversation and set the agenda for the next meeting. Successful reps book the next meeting on the call itself and it’s much easier than following up later with multiple emails.
- Push for including decision-makers from the beginning:
Don’t be rude and ask your prospect if they are the decision-makers. Ask if they’d like to include their colleagues in the process and ask if you could share a demo or a quick brief to make their life easier when fighting for you internally. This is also a good indicator to gauge their seriousness from day one.
- Send follow-up emails:
Answer any queries that could have come up during the call or the meeting with your prospects. Some claim that a prospect has to have five contacts with you before you can consider them a real lead. However, based on our data, we can tell you that salespeople who were successful in closing transactions of any size sent 40 emails to prospects on average. Do this after every interaction whether, on the phone or in a meeting, it doesn’t matter. You have to always be on top of their minds!
Lost deals have fewer decision-makers and it may be time to look at your qualification
Lost Deals on average have 30% lesser contacts engaged as compared to won deals. Indicators like the number of contacts engaged or identifying the key decision maker are crucial to winning deals. Have your team do this manually or use Revenue Intelligence tools to always be on the lookout for decision-makers, and objections related to adding stakeholders and gatekeepers.
We found that lost deals take over 40 more days to realize in your CRM as reps are always waiting for that one confirmation email or call. 40 days can be a long time to stress on a deal no matter the size and the time can be spent on building more pipeline. Evaluate every deal on a weekly basis to score and qualify and identify the indicators mentioned above at every stage to see how you’re doing compared to past won deals.
How to leverage lost deals for future wins:
The first step to setting your team up for success is moving from intuition to data-driven decisions. For a few weeks measure as many leading indicators as you can, implement deal scoring, and move from sheets to systems like CRMs, conversational intelligence, RevOps, and CDPs. Identify key trends at every stage, for every team, and for every product, and go as granular in your investigation as you can. Identify trends and improve each step iteratively. You don’t need a data team to get started on basic CRM analytics or purchase a RevOps solution.
Have your teams create historical reports
If you’ve had a CRM in place for a while you can quickly pull up deals as far back as a few years to start building reports. Most often you’ll find missing data or outdated records. This is your starting point to align your team and understand why you have broken data even after reps spend hours filling CRMs. Move on to quicker data solutions and CRM enrichment systems. There’s no better place to be than have everyone in your team transparently acknowledge their shortcoming and collectively improve.
Constantly evaluate your qualification process
This is the holy grail of deal prioritization and winning more. It can be as simple as meeting with your reps every Monday to evaluate their individual deals or as complex as a full-blown RevOps solution. No matter what you chose sticking to a process consistently will help you increase quarter on quarter.
Build a consistent prioritization system and set your reps up for success
The biggest enemy of sales ops is spending too much time planning rather than executing. You don’t need battle cards and fancy 3rd party intent data to understand which deals you should focus on. Something as simple as looking at the number of emails can be a key to prioritization. Relying on systems over intuition and sheets should be your first priority and you can refine them iteratively over time.
These notes share actionable advice for refining your sales funnel and learning from lost deals. The predominant theme across winning teams is their ability to measure and track data in their CRMs. All it takes is a few tools, a consistent process, and alignment within your team. Factors as simple as recording the average number of decision-makers for every ICP do not take a data scientist but rather a data-driven sales leader. Success stories in modern sales are built of patterns, insights, and secrets that come out from your data. Follow these steps, include your team at every step, and be the protagonist of your sales story.
But what after all these steps?
in the fast evolving world of sales if you rely on conventional methods you may get left behind. Using modern tools for better deal closing is the need of the hour, read our blog How to enhance your CRM data with Revenue Intelligence to learn more.