Today we ran a session with a group of sales managers on competitive selling and how to coach and mentor their sales teams to drive up competitive intensity in every sales campaign. Besides covering the regular topics like “respect thy competition,” “don’t bash the competition,” and “only the paranoid survive,” we had a great discussion on losses. We dove into how to use loss reviews as a way to share best practices across sales teams.

No one wants to lose a deal. Yet, losing does happen. It’s inevitable. Even market leaders only have a thirty to forty percent win rate. Like everything in life, how a sales team handles the loss is what makes some sales professionals just good and others fabulously great. Also, you never know what may come from a loss review. By engaging the broader sales team, new competitive strategies emerge that can be used on other deals or even the one that was lost. I’ve been in many loss reviews that helped turn a loss into a win in the future.

We asked a question of this group of the sales managers on the call this morning: “How many of you have conducted a competitive loss review with your teams in the last ninety days?” The answer was…crickets. Not one sales manager of the ten had ever conducted a group competitive loss discussion with their sales teams. Most keep the competitive loss review discussion to their one-on-ones.

It got us thinking that this is a great best practice for sales managers to consider doing quarterly if not monthly with an entire sales team together.

Here are some tips to consider when doing a competitive loss review with your team:

  1. Set the call ground rules: Make sure everyone is there to learn and not critique.
  2. Have the your sales person share what happened in the deal without getting defensive.
  3. Keep the team call limited to your team and other employees that will benefit from the discussion.
  4. Keep non-core executives out from the loss review.
  5. Capture lessons learned for your competitive playbook.
  6. Keep the loss review positive.
  7. Feed information back to marketing so they can learn too.
  8. Record the loss review if appropriate and if everyone is comfortable.

Here are some questions to use to guide a constructive loss review discussion

  1. What’s the Deal/Account?
  2. What was the lead source of this deal?
  3. Why do you think we lost the deal?
  4. What would the customer say about why we lost?
  5. How did we leverage our relationships during the process?
  6. Knowing now what you know, what would you have done differently? What are our lessons learned?
  7. What will we do to win-back the deal in the future?

Partner With Sales Leaders

Work closely with your sales leaders to roll out a Loss Review process.

  1. Have them review the questions.
  2. Train them on how to facilitate.
  3. Provide them with loss deals reports and lists.
  4. Work out a timeline.
  5. Help them with communications.

Be the leader who appreciates and respects learning from losses. Win as a team. Learn from losses. Remember, a loss is a potential win-back.

Explore SalesHood’s turnkey Sales Coaching Huddles including how to create win stories at scale and how to run collaborative competitive loss reviews. Click to learn more.

About the Author

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $500M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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