Lost sales are always a concern, but the spotlight is especially
bright in our current COVID reality. We must now add “Coronavirus
pandemic” to our analysis of wins and losses in addition to the plethora
of other reasons that already existed.
Businesses and consumers are tightening their purse strings and they
navigate the uncertainties of each day. In such an unprecedented time,
what can we learn from lost sales? What can we alter or adapt to speak
to the moment and keep prospects engaged in the buying process? In this
post, we’ll discuss why it’s important to track lost sales, what can be
learned from those insights, and some quick and dirty tips for improving
the close rate in the short term.
Why Track Lost Sales?
The reason for tracking lost sales is simple: you won’t know how to
fix a problem until you understand what’s causing it. Tracking the
reasons behind the lost sales helps identify where your team should
focus its energy. Is the ball dropping at the top of the funnel? Is
customer service and response time the issue? Are competitors beating
you out on value or features? Your CRM can be used to track and report
on lost sales and reveal the underlying trends.
Using Your CRM to Learn from Lost Sales
If you use a CRM, you at least track your lost sales on a basic level
by switching the status of a contact in your system from an Opportunity
to a Closed Lost. The key to tracking lost sales is taking that a step
further to capture and report on the “Why”. The easiest way to start
tracking lost sales reasons is by populating a dropdown field in the
A few years back, I wrote a post on some best practices for tracking lost sales in the CRM. These are a few of the reasons I suggested you use in your dropdown field:
- Poor Follow-up
- Wrong Decision Maker(s)
- Lack of References
- Lack of Expertise
- Lack of Resources
- Column Fodder (Not a true competitor, you were just brought in as an extra bid)
- Out sold
- Wrong Target
- No Budget
- Insufficient Budget
Once you have enough of this data, you can create reports in the CRM
to get the bigger picture. Consider filtering your reports not only by
the values of the dropdown field, but on a more granular level that
looks at the type of customer, the type of product, or the sales region.
You may notice you’re losing the most sales from certain types of
businesses, or businesses located in certain areas.
This may be especially true during COVID-19. HubSpot sent its partners the graphic below on the industries most impacted and least impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. If you’re trying to sell to one of the highly impacted industries, you’re in a tough—but not impossible—position. In the next section, I’ll outline a few quick adaptations you can make to help prevent lost sales.
Quick Adaptations to Prevent Lost Sales
Preventing lost sales is a team effort and one that requires a
combination of metrics, data analysis, and creativity. As you work to
strategize your own sales approach, keep these quick adaptations in
Did you know that 63% of consumers who use live chat on a website are likely to return to that site? Those users are also 85% more likely to become customers. If you don’t have, or aren’t actively using live chat, now is the time. It’s a frictionless way for potential customers to contact you and ask a quick question or clarification about what you offer.
Designate at least one person (or more, depending on the size of your
staff) to manage the chat during office hours and set up automatic
responses with a Bot for the rest of the time. People much prefer
speaking to another person over a Bot, but you can’t expect your team to
monitor the chat 24/7. While the humans sleep, the Bot can collect data
from new chat interactions to be followed-up on in the morning.
IMPORTANT: If you’re currently using a CRM, make
sure your chat solution can integrate with it to provide the maximum
value. Chat histories and lead data can be stored in the CRM much easier
with an integrated solution.
A veteran sales rep once told me that you must provide value to a
prospect twice before you ask for something. This is good advice in any
circumstance, but it’s particularly relevant during this pandemic.
Businesses are trying to get creative and stay flexible to manage a
volatile business environment. By recognizing those challenges and
offering help, you are establishing long-term trust. Many companies are
doing just that.
Take Zoom for instance, which is currently offering its basic video conferencing tool for free. Or HubSpot, who’s been offering free sales and marketing courses and hosting webinars with advice on how to adapt to the latest sales and marketing trends.
These acts of solidarity are providing real value to businesses while
also reflecting positively on the brands. It’s a long-game strategy,
but it’s worth it. As Maya Angelou famously said, “People will forget
what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never
forget how you made them feel.” Show your prospects (and customers too!)
how much you care about them by offering some humanity and helping them
navigate this tough time.
Simmer Down the Emails
While we all want to show our support and solidarity right now, we
must strike a balance between how many and what kinds of emails we’re
sending. Here are a few tips:
- Don’t send an email about Coronavirus unless you have something new to say. People’s
inboxes are flooded with COVID-19 emails right now, and adding
unnecessary clutter is neither helpful nor effective. Are there changes
to your operations or services people need to be aware of? Do you need
to alert customers and prospects of something that may be of value to
them? These are instances when sending a COVID-19 related email is OK.
- Don’t throw email best practices out the window. Resist
the urge to mass email your entire customer and prospect base. Maintain
best practices by segmenting and personalizing your emails with
relevant content. If you’re worried about reaching a broader audience,
consider adding a homepage banner on your website instead. This will
allow you to get your biggest message across without bombarding inboxes.
- Give before you get. Buying priorities have
changed. Create helpful campaigns by running promotions that are
relevant and compassionate. Provide a special offer or discounted
package that will help your targeted audience. For example, one company
we know is doing structured customer conversations and data analysis to
help reveal new business opportunities for its clients.
Personalize the Connection with Your Webcam
You did it. You scheduled a Web call and the sale is moving to the next stage of the buying process. When it’s time to meet that prospect, will your webcam be enabled? It should be. According to a recent report by Gong.io, closed deals involve using webcams 41% more often than lost deals.
Not only does showing your face help you establish rapport and make a
more meaningful connection, but it also gives you an additional tool
for evaluating the interest of the lead. Seeing their facial expressions
and body language gives you a better read on how they feel about your
interaction. If they look hesitant or confused, you can address it
upfront and better guide the conversation.
Make Online Sales More Accessible
Just as the chat reduces friction in the buying process, so can an
online shopping cart. If a prospect sees something they like, they can
purchase it right then and there. Shopping cart software also can help
you manage and track your orders so you can reveal patterns and buying
Unfortunately, a shopping cart may not be the right fit for every
business. Investigate where it may have potential for you, and then
evaluate your options. Many companies are offering free trials or
discounted plans right now.