What to Do When You Don’t Get the Sale:
Losing the Big-One
By Garrison Wynn
careful consideration, we have chosen our vendor, and it’s not you."
Those are hard words to hear.
That big deal, the account you have been
courting for months, has fallen to someone else.
appreciate all the time and effort you put into your bid. It was
quite professional.” Yeah
sure, they really appreciate your months of grueling work, but not
enough to actually write you a check. You feel like you’ve just been
elected the mayor of Loser-ville. So, what do you do now? At this
crucial point, many salespeople make one of two mistakes: they
either forget about this big, potential customer (and the time
invested) forever or they make some desperate move that further
cements their fate as The Company That Couldn’t. “Hey wait-a-second
Mr. Prospect, are you really mentally prepared to give me a final
no? Hello? Hello?” (Never comment on a prospect's mental health.)
that separates a good salesperson from a great salesperson is the
ability to become a backup vendor.
In essence, positioning
yourself as the secondary supplier for the account sets you up to
continue to build a relationship with the client, to someday win
that business. Most companies want to have depth in their supply
chain. Everybody likes to have options. Few clients will deny your
last request. “Sure, whatever.” Maybe they don’t sound sincere, but
they’ve just given the invitation to keep the relationship alive.
Now you can go to work showing them what a great vendor you could
thing to remember is to never criticize the company that won the
business. If you talk bad
about the winning competitor, you are criticizing the customer’s
recent decision. Calling your potential customer stupid is not an
effective sales tactic.
out exactly why you lost the deal.
People typically don’t have much trouble telling you where you went
wrong. If they balk, tell them that to be an effective backup
vendor, you want to know more about their specific needs. Before
long, you find out what you did wrong – and what you need to do
right – to eventually get the business. Every bit of detail you
discover will help you win the account one-day. Look for the role
you played in the failed deal.
You can also
ask for referrals. You
will be amazed how easy it to get leads from a company that just
told you they have chosen another vendor. Then sell to the other
companies and get testimonial letters from them. Send copies and a
thank you note to the company who gave the referral.
build the relationship just like you would if you were the primary
vendor. Put regular
ticklers for the client in your contact database (if you don’t have
contact software, pick up your rotary phone next to the lava lamp
and order some now) and touch base with them. Keep reminding them
that you’ll be ready when they need backup.
Email relationship and let
them know occasionally (not every two days) how you are helping your
other happy customers.
building the relationship.
Stock the products they use, and send updated product information.
Offer solutions to any problems they may tell you about. Refer them
to other companies who provide products or services you don’t. These
kinds of activities will ensure that you stay on their vendor list,
and you will build a reputation as a problem solver.
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