Think back over the sales you lost in the last year. What would you say is the most common reason you lost?
Okay, now think back over the sales you won. What is the most common reason you won?
If you asked enough salespeople, the answer to both questions should line up. After all, every loss is someone else’s win, and vice versa.
The giant consulting group Accenture did ask enough salespeople, and the results are fascinating. The most common reason cited for losing a sale was, by far, price and terms; 81% of respondents put it in the top three reasons for losing sales. The next most-cited reason, at 56%, was that competitors had existing relationships. After that, the reasons were all over the lot: account coverage, execution of the sales process, product availability, etc., etc.
But when asked why they won sales, only 28% of respondents cited price and terms.
The most common reasons citing for winning were existing relationships (62%), brand equity/reputation (53%), level of service/support (46%) and product superiority (40%).
You can draw your own conclusions from the data. But I think the winners are probably closer to the truth. After you win a sale, you have a lot more information about the buyer’s decision making process than when you lose. If they were winning sales because of price, they’d know.
When you lose, on the other hand, price becomes the convenient scapegoat. It’s the easiest way to explain a loss, and deflects attention from the performance of the sales team.
Why this is important is because these beliefs distort the sales process. If you truly believe that you’re losing sales because of price and terms, you’re likely to focus too much of your energy and attention on those issues. That can become a self-fulfilling prophecy: The more you worry about price, the more important it becomes to the buyer.
The solution, I would suggest, is to focus more on why you win than why you lose. Do more of the stuff that wins deals – notably, relationships, reputation and service — and the rest will take care of itself.
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