4 Main Reasons Why Sellers Lose Deals (II) Blog Feature
Steve Bookbinder

By: Steve Bookbinder on March 22nd, 2013

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4 Main Reasons Why Sellers Lose Deals (II)

Tender | Sales Tips | Sales Training | buying process | leads | RFP | buying | contacts | Objection Handling

By Steve Bookbinder, CEO, Digital Media Training

There are 4 main reasons on why sellers lose deals that they’ve invested their precious time in.  They are the following:


  1. No outreach was made prior to the issuance of the RFP/ Tender.
  2. ***Lack of understanding in the role your contact plays within the buying process.***
  3. Lack of initiative in gathering insight on the buyer’s history and thought process.
  4. Failure to provide a very concise picture of how the solution you provide solves his or her problem.

Last time, we looked into reason #1.  Today, we will take a look at how to avoid starting the sales process with the wrong person. 

2.    Lack of understanding in the role your contact plays within the buying process. -  Most sellers agree that the key to success is beginning with the right contact, but this, often times, tends to get buried somewhere.  If getting to the right person was so easy, your company would not hire salespeople.  Instead, they’d simply email the “obvious” right person with the proposal you will eventually show. 

Most sellers ignore the reality of where in the buying funnel their prospect is and how this impacts who to start with.   Many oversimplify by starting with the “usual suspect” – that is, the person-with-your-product-in-their-title and ask “are you the decision maker?” or “are you one of the decision makers?”  Even if this person’s title is often the decision maker in similar situations, it is not clear what their role will be in the next sale.  Most sellers tell me that their initial contact often says, “Yes I am the decision maker,” but later on in the sales process, this contact now needs to talk to “the boss” or someone else in charge.  What went wrong?  The seller never really understood where in the funnel the customer was when he or she asked, “Are you one of the decision makers?” Additionally, the seller never learned about the contact’s role in past buying patterns.

Let’s begin with the right person.  Remember that in today’s world there is seldom one decision-maker.  The right person, who we can learn more easily about in retrospect upon examination of previous successful sales, is the person who was able to gather the key stake holders and get them to (a) make a decision and (b) make a decision in the seller’s favor.   So, where do you begin?  Start by thinking about where the customer is in the marketing funnel: the top of the funnel is qualified but not looking, the middle is educating themselves about their choices, and the bottom is ready to buy now.   When a company is at the middle or the bottom of the funnel, they usually ask the person with your product in their title to take the lead in finding a solution.  They entrust that person with this mission.


Members of senior management share their timetables, urgency, big picture agenda (what they really want to accomplish), budget parameters and ask that person to come up with a solution that fits.  Those people may come up with a spreadsheet of possible solutions or recommend one solution (the seller should ask which way their contact will be handling this) – depending on senior management’s respect for their opinion.  If you ask a bottom-of-the-funnel-buyer what his goals, timetable, or budget is, he should be able to tell you. However, if a company is at the top or in the early stages of the middle of the funnel, senior management may not yet have settled on or communicated with the obvious buyer (person with your product in their title) what their real goals, budget, or timetable are.  So, depending on where a company is in the funnel, the influencer changes and so does the recommender, the budget holder, and the timetable setter.  When asking “What was your plan if I didn’t call you?” or “What were you going to do to solve your problem had I not called you to set up this introduction meeting?” (or words to that effect),  you begin to learn by the actions they’ve already taken and will be able to pinpoint where they are in the funnel.  Generally speaking, the higher up in the funnel the buyer is, the higher up in the organizational chart you will need to begin.

In the next installment, we will examine the importance of learning the real buying process.  Are you asking, “Are you the decision maker” within the first few minutes of your first appointment?  Let’s consider a more thorough way of trying to dig out this essential information.


About Steve Bookbinder

Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.

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