What to do when you lost the sale


Just because you received the news that you lost the sale doesn’t mean there still isn’t an opportunity for you. By taking the right actions, you could change your prospect’s mind this time or set yourself up to win the next time. Here’s how to do it:

Ask them “Is there ink – is it too late?”

If they say, “we already made a decision,” you can ask, “has the contract/agreement already been signed or is it in progress?” This will give you an idea if there is room for you to overturn their answer. Remember, you will need to have an excellent, airtight reason as to why it would benefit them to change their minds.

Find out why – it may be a different answer than you think.

You may think you lost it because your price is too high. The reality may be that the top person came in and chose a friend instead. Ask them “Why didn’t you select us?” or “What did you feel was lacking in our solution?” Then, be silent and let them talk.

Look for other opportunities.

Often, the solution selected doesn’t fully cover the needs, which could be an opportunity for you. Ask, “What other projects are you working on that we could help with?” If that goes nowhere, then ask, “Who else might have a need for our services?” If they mention another decision maker that could have a project for you, ask for an introduction. Most sellers don’t take this step and miss out on BIG opportunities. Don’t let that be you!

Don’t disappear.

So you lost the sale and you walk away with your tail between your legs and move onto the next prospect. NO! We’ve all had these moments but I urge you to stick close to your prospects, even when you lose. Take some time to educate your decision maker on potential issues that may arise when working on projects like this with other vendors. Give some examples so your decision maker can be on the lookout and knows when to call you back in. Then, check in every month to be top of mind, provide other information you thought would be helpful to the decision maker and find out how the other vendor is performing. If there are problems, the door of opportunity will open up for you again because you stuck with it and kept building the relationship in spite of the loss.

Don’t take it personally.

It’s not about you. Remember the most important factor in the sales equation is the decision maker. It’s all about them. Help them, even though they didn’t choose you. They still need you. If you hang in there, even though you didn’t win, even though you may never win with them, you will find success in the end. One time we lost the sale, not because someone else won, but because the decision maker lost his budget. We were very gracious and commiserated with him because he still had a problem to solve. We took off our sales hats and put on our resource hats to provide him with the advice and guidance he needed at that moment. As a thank you, he referred us to a friend of his who did have the ability to spend. Who’s the winner now? 

Get right back on the horse.

Don’t let your prospect’s bad decision to choose another vendor be a barrier to your sales success. Don’t even take the afternoon off. Make 3 more calls right after you find out. You may be just minutes away from your next big opportunity.

Learn from loss.

Analyze why you lost the sale. See if there was something you could have done differently so you grow from the experience. Analyzing loss is important for another reason. If you are losing sales several times for the same reason, it could be a wake up call that something needs to change.

Maintaining a positive outlook, putting the current situation in the right perspective and continuing to move forward can change the outcome of what you think is a lost sale.


Caryn Kopp is the Chief Door Opener® at Kopp Consulting, whose Door Opener® Service helps clients get in the door for initial meetings with high level, hard-to-reach prospect decision makers. Kopp Consulting is recognized on the Inc. 5000 list, was named one of NJ's 50 Fastest Growing Companies and was named Sales Outsourcing Provider of the Year. Caryn’s book, Biz Dev Done Right, co-authored with Carl Gould, is an Amazon best seller. She is also the author of The Path to The Cash!® The Words You NEED to Bypass Those Darned Prospect Objections and is a faculty member of Gazelles Growth Institute. Reach her at www.koppconsultingusa.com