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Life Health > Running Your Business

Missed a Sale by ‘That Much’

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That expression popped into my head as I was watching a replay of a missed goal in a recent Euro 2012 soccer game. It reminded me of a popular sitcom that aired in the mid-1960s, “Get Smart.” In the show, a bumbling secret agent had a recurring line: “Chief, I missed it by that much.”

Sometimes we miss a sale by “that much,” too. It can be frustrating, especially when we feel certain the sale is going to go through. So, what should you do when you miss a sale by “that much”?

First, ask for feedback. There is nothing wrong with asking a prospect why they didn’t choose your product, service or solution. But many salespeople are afraid or hesitant to ask for this feedback. However, it can be as simple as making a telephone call or sending an email and saying, “I’m always looking to improve. Would you mind sharing with me what influenced your final decision?”

If you do decide to ask for feedback, resist the natural temptation to respond with a rebuttal to your prospect’s answer. Instead, thank them for their candor and look for ways to stay in touch. In some cases, you won’t get feedback, so take a few moments and evaluate what you could have done differently. I often find that when a deal doesn’t go my way it’s a result of not asking enough of the right questions early in the sales conversation.

However, in some situations, you can ask all of the right questions, present the perfect solution and effectively deal with your prospect’s objections but still not get the sale. It disappointing when it happens but it’s a fact of life…and business. Here’s my perspective on that issue:

Sometimes people make wrong decisions, including business-savvy decision-makers. It doesn’t matter what you do, sometimes a sale is simply destined to fail. Finally, ask yourself honestly if you did your best.

I remember losing a substantial sale to a competitor even though I was more qualified to do the work. When I reflected back on my presentation, I realized that I wasn’t as prepared as usual. I failed to ask two key questions that would have changed my approach and my presentation.

There’s one last point that’s worth noting: If you have a full pipeline, losing one sales opportunity won’t hurt your overall results that much and you will can quickly move on to the next prospect. One of my business associates recommends having at least three times your sales quota in the pipeline at any time, and I think this is great advice. The more qualified prospects you have in your pipeline, the less impact a failed deal will have on your results.

Sometimes we lose sales that we think we should have had. Sometimes those deals were never meant to be, and other times we miss them by “that much.” In either case, take the lesson—if there is one—but don’t let it stop you from pursuing your next opportunity.

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Kelley Robertson helps sales professionals master their sales conversations so they can win more business at higher profits. Get a free copy of “100 Ways to Increase Your Sales” and “Sales Blunders That Cost You Money” at


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