Learn three techniques to help your rep regroup after they lose a sale.
- How do you help your rep recover from a call that was an absolute disaster? The call bombed, and there was nothing either of you could do to get it back on track. Now, imagine you're both standing in the lobby. You're looking at each other. You thought it was the worst sales call on the planet. What do you do now? Well, as the sales manager, a lot of things are probably going through your mind. You might be angry or frustrated. You might even be sick to your stomach, because you realize, both of you might get fired, because your rep just lost the big deal.
Well, all of those thoughts can come later. Right now, at this moment, you have a salesperson, your salesperson, standing in front of you after a horrific sales call. Let's look at two scenarios. Now, in both of these scenarios, Elizabeth has just lost a huge account. I watched it, and it was horrific. Now, in the first scenario, as the coach, I'm going to tell her exactly what I think went wrong.
Well, that was pretty painful. - I know. - Do you know, I mean, the first mistake was, you should've known when she brought her boss into the room, that's the buyer. - I know. - Why didn't you ask him any questions? - I fumbled. - He's sitting there arms crossed the entire time. - I know. - What about the competition? Did you know they would've been in there? - No. - The previous week? - I didn't know. - Why didn't you find that out? - I forgot. - This was really bad. Really bad, this deal is gone. - I totally blew it. - Yeah, I don't think you're going to be able to recover from this.
Let's just go. Now in this second situation, it's exactly the same. Elizabeth has just lost the big account, there we are in the lobby, but I want you to pay attention to the difference in my reaction as a coach. Well that was pretty painful. - I know. - Where do you think it went wrong? - Well I think the first mistake is I realized later that I wasn't speaking with the buyer all along and he was there today. - Yeah, that was bad.
So what would you have done differently? - I should have asked her more up front. - Yeah, and what would you have done differently today if you had today to do over again? - I really didn't ask him any questions because I didn't know him that well. - Right, so that would have been a better plan. What about the competitive situation? It seemed like that might have taken you by surprise. - It did, I didn't know they were talking to our competition and I should've asked if they were considering other options. - So, ask about the buyer, engage the surprise guests a little more, ask a little bit more about the competition.
- [Elizabeth] Right. - Do you think this is recoverable? - We could try. - I think it might be. I think we need to reset. At least you know where you went wrong, and I don't think you're going to make these mistakes again. So let's go back to the office, let's reset, and let's figure out if we can salvage this. Okay? - Okay. - Let's go. Did you notice a difference? Let's break down why this second response was much more effective. So the very first thing you need to ask as a coach is what do you think? Now it's easy for you the coach to just jump in and go through a list of what you think went wrong, but you want to ask your sales rep first, because you see in a lot of cases, the rep already knows it went wrong, they are already beating themselves up about it, they don't need you piling on.
Even if they don't know why it went wrong, they know it went badly. So if the rep says, "It went terrible." That's when you ask, "Why?" You want the rep to unpack it, not you. After they start describing why it went wrong, you can provide your expertise as an observer because an observer, no matter what the human interaction, an observer is always going to spot things that the two participants don't. So you might want to say something like, "You know it's easier for me to see this "because I wasn't having to run the call the way you do.
"Let me tell you what I observed." And be specific, say something like, "When you asked her that one question, it derailed things. "She got confused. She went down a rabbit hole." Whatever happened, be specific about what you saw. You need to provide specificity, because your rep isn't going to be able to see that. They just know the feeling of what happened. After that, ask you rep, "What would you do differently next time? "How do you think we might recover? "How can we regroup?" because you see your rep needs to own the action plan, not you.
In these types of scenarios they're painful, so it's really critical that you ask questions more than you provide tips. The rep might not know the answer, but by you asking the questions where do you think it went wrong, it ignites a different thought process from you going through all your thoughts on why it went wrong. It forces the rep to mentally replay that very painful sales call, and think about their own behavior. This technique works because the rep knows what happened, why it went south, but what about those scenarios when your rep is totally clueless when it was obvious to you this customer is never going to see you again, but your rep still thinks I'm going to get this deal.
That's where you have to be even more skillful with your questions. So imagine after the train wreck sales call you ask your rep, "How do you think it went?" And they say, "Oh pretty good, the customer didn't "buy this time, but I think I'm going to get "back in there and close this deal." Well do not roll your eyes and sigh, or at least not visibly, ask your rep questions like, "What makes you think the customer will see you again? "How do you think the customer would evaluate this meeting? "What indications did the customer give you "that there was something positive there?" Gets the rep to think and if they still don't get it, at that point, it's fine for you to say, "You know, I observed something very different.
"Here's what I observed about the customer's response." And then give your assessment. Now it's possible even though you're a good coach that you're wrong, it's probably not likely. If as an observer you thought it was awful, it probably was. Now in both of these scenarios whether the rep knew it went badly or they needed some help from you, you still want to focus that person on an action plan moving forward. And the action plan has two parts. One, what action, what specific action is the rep going to take with this customer? Can they ask for another chance? Can they be honest and say you know I really blew that meeting? Can they wait a while? Is there someone else in that company they might call on? Or is this thing over and done and they need to move on? But make sure the rep is clear on their actions, they own it.
Now the second element and this is really critical in your role as a coach, the second element of an action plan is the skill development piece. What is the rep going to do differently in the future? It's not about beating them up, it's about giving the rep confidence that they can correct themselves and they can make sure this does not happen again. To give the rep that kind of confidence, they need to know which behaviors they should be doing, and which behaviors they need to avoid. An important thing to remember in this is, nobody dies as a result of a bad sales call, it may feel like that, but no one actually dies, and so as painful as it can be, just remember you and your rep can always live to sell another day.
- What sales coaching is and what it's not
- Planning for a call
- Dealing with a difficult call
- Debriefing after a big win or a loss
- Positioning yourself with the customer
- Dealing with customers who ignore your rep
- Handling abusive customers
- Planning joint calls
- Creating killer presentations and proposals
- Dealing with stalled sales processes