It happens to every sales professional.  You lose a deal and then you lose another one, and even worse, another one.  After a few of these losses, self-doubt begins to creep into your mind.  “What went wrong with the deal? How did I lose the deal?  Have I lost my magic?”  Losing a deal does not make one a loser.  It makes one human.

After more than two and one-half decades in sales, I have concluded that the surest way to understand a loss is to autopsy the deal.  While I know most strong sales managers have “debriefs” and “post mortems,” the best way to analyze the deal is through an autopsy.

When a pathologist performs an autopsy on a human being, the first thing they do is look at the vital organs.  Their inspection of the heart, brain, lungs, and liver are standard approaches because these are the vital organs that sustain life.  In a sales autopsy, we must look at the vital components to the sales cycle that sustain life, such as value proposition, client requirements, client relationship, pricing strategy, and client need.

  • Value Proposition – Did you present a clear and compelling value proposition based on the client’s unique needs? Was the value articulated with the client’s verbiage, using the client’s terminology, or your own?  Every value proposition presented should clearly articulate in detail what you are offering and how it makes your client’s life better.  Failure to do so can cause buying insecurity in your clients.
  • Client Requirements – Did you ensure that each one of your client’s requirements was met via your solution? Did you emphasize the fact that you met (or even exceeded) your client’s requirements?  Never be afraid to be bold and declare how your solution is a perfect fit for your client.
  • Client Relationship – This may sound redundant and right out of Sales 101, but are you meeting with the right person in the organization? A great proposal presented to the wrong audience is equally as bad as a bad proposal presented to the right audience.  Both will fail.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you have a great relationship with the right person, and he or she will get you where you need to be, when in reality you are working with the wrong person who isn’t capable of helping you.
  • Pricing Strategy – Assuming you know your client’s requirements and understand their budget, did you present the right pricing strategy to the client? The least expensive solution does not always win, nor does a higher price always resonate with more value.  Know your client’s budget and clearly articulate value versus investment.  Be sure to tell your client that there is a cost to doing nothing, and that it can be detrimental to their best interest.

Finally, there is one more element that needs to be considered.

And that is belief.  True sales professionals believe in their offering and their pricing.  And belief is what drives behavior.  If you are apologetic regarding your offering or your pricing, your unbelief will be evident in your presentation.  Every sales professional must be able to present their offering with the innate belief that what he or she is presenting is in the client’s best interest and that it is a “good” deal for your client and your company.

So, the next time you lose a deal and try to figure out why, simply perform an autopsy of the sale to examine all the vital components.  Going through this exercise will reduce the amount of losses and considerably increase your wins.