The JF Guest Author Spot
Win or lose, how diligent are you in placing a call to get feedback from your clients about why they did or didn't choose you? There is so much to learn - whether to identify strengths you hadn't even recognized as such that you can use to win future business, to know what appeals most to your client so you can be extra sure to deliver on that, or to correct misses and prevent them from happening to sink future deals.
Even if you ask for feedback and get just one point, it will help you improve. It also shows respect for the client's judgment - i.e., "I can learn from you," and sets you apart as a professional with passion to be the best and win the next time. It also makes the next call and finding the next opportunity easier.
The only glitch is when you ask your clients for feedback post-deal (which most salespeople don't do), particularly when they lose a deal, even if they ask in the best way possible by prefacing it with the reason for asking and without being defensive, they may not get frank feedback.
Even hard-boiled clients can be very reluctant to give harsh feedback. Some don't want to hurt your feelings, others feel guilty that you worked hard but lost out, and still others feel they may need you in the future.
The following describes a strategy that, while it may be a hard pill to swallow, is a very effective way to get the straight scoop when you lose business - ask your manager or another trusted colleague to make the call to your client for you.
When an experienced but new to the organization salesperson didn't win a deal, the fifth in a row, as a part of debriefing the call, her sales manager asked her what she thought happened. She said she felt she had done the right things - built rapport, understood the client's needs, and offered competitive pricing. The sales manager suggested the salesperson call the client for feedback. Shying away from that suggestion, she surprised her sales manager by asking him to make that call. The sales manager agreed, realizing he would likely get a more frank appraisal.
One minute into the phone call, the sales manager gained valuable feedback:
Thank you for considering us. We were very excited about the opportunity to support you in the ... project. I've spoken in-depth with Karen and I know you've chosen ... To help us improve we'd appreciate your feedback to understand where we missed the mark.
I judge salespeople harshly. Still - I don't want to get her in trouble.
I understand your feelings. It's not about trouble or blame. Feedback will help us as a company and will mainly help Karen.
She was a real disappointment. She asked me about my needs and took my time but came back with a vanilla solution that completely missed the key things we're trying to do ...
The sales manager probed more, was able to reopen the door for future opportunities, and thanked the client for the feedback.
Based on this feedback, the sales manager and salesperson reviewed the client needs which she had uncovered and measured them against the solution she presented. The gap was clear.
After you win or lose a deal - ask your customers for feedback. When you win a deal you'll get insights that you can use and actually get quotes to help you win the next opportunity. And when you've lost a deal you'll get information that will also help you win the next one.
To get unfiltered feedback, consider asking your manager to make the call for you. Granted this isn't easy, but if you have a good relationship with your manager you'll likely learn something important to winning the next deal. At a minimum, you make the call. Making that call is a lot easier than losing more deals.
Linda Richardson is the Founder and Chairman of Richardson, a global sales training business. As a recognized leader in the industry, she has won the coveted Stevie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sales Excellence for 2006 and in 2007 she was identified by Training Industry, Inc. as one of the "Top 20 Most Influential Training Professionals." Read more about Linda
Today's News: Over at Salesopedia, Clayton Shold is interviewing Jill Konrath: "Failure inspired Jill Konrath to write the book "Selling to Big Companies". A sales consultant who couldn't get people to call her back led her to identify insights that really work. In this podcast she dispels the myth that prospecting is a numbers game. Jill describes specific techniques that really work. Listening to this eleven minute podcast will increase your prospecting productivity." Just click on the banner to listen in.
I received a message from Mike Brooks (aka Mr Inside Sales) yesterday, and he attached a fantastic image from his recent vacation. "just came back from holiday up in Washington State, hiking in Mount Rainier National Park. Amazing..." Amazing indeed!!
Tomorrow: To finish the week: "Professional Speaking - What Audiences Want, And What They Definitely Do Not Want"
Link to original post