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 CRM.

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
  • Indecision
  • 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.

Impacted Industries during Coronavirus

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 mind. 

Get Chat

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.

Provide Value

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Successful Deals Webcam Usage Graph

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 behaviors.

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.

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