There was smiling. And nodding. And firm handshaking with continued eye contact. They even said they were pleased to meet with you and that they just needed to “run some numbers” and would be getting back to you.
And then the waiting.
A day goes by. Then a week. No phone call. No email. No text message. Nothing.
You start running everything over and over in your mind, desperately digging for an explanation. Was I a close-talker? Too feminist? Too anti- or pro-cat?
I mean, they seemed really interested at the time. Actually, now that you think about it, they even laughed politely at your jokes!
So why the heck did you lose the sale?
Let’s find out.
You Didn’t Follow Up
One of the most common reasons potential sales fall through the cracks is due to lack of follow up. It’s not that the prospect didn’t like you or wasn’t interested in what you were selling; they simply forgot that the initial exchange ever happened.
Think about how busy you are on a daily basis. Now, remember that email you received last week about opening up a new rewards card that you wanted to sign up for?
You may have been perfectly interested in the offer at the time, but right after closing out of your email, your cat knocked over the computer monitor, your mom called in a panic, and the baby fell out of his crib again. That's life, and it happens every day.
You can’t always expect someone to remember you from one brief exchange. Give them some time to respond to your offer if they seemed interested, and then follow up with a friendly reminder, or simply get back in touch and put yourself top of mind again. Keep in mind that you’re not the only thing on someone’s mind throughout the course of the day, so a little friendly hello never hurt.
You Followed Up Too Much
On the opposite side of the coin is the over follow-up, when you bombard them with emails and earn the dreaded Stage 5 Clinger Stalking Status. This is often worse than not following up at all, and you’ll quickly go from having an interested prospect to a very aggravated lost customer.
No one wants six emails a day about how they can lower their car insurance by switching to Geico. There are plenty of commercials to remind them of that.
Don’t overload your prospects with too much information. It’s one thing to be receptive to any questions or concerns, but sending ten sell sheets a day with product specs and hitting them with too much salesy info before they’re ready to buy can quickly turn people off.
Instead, consider where they are in the buyer’s journey, and tailor your efforts appropriately. For instance, if they’re still in the awareness stage, don’t hit them with price comparison reports. Instead, share something helpful like a blog post or a how-to.
You Lost Sight of Your Customers’ Wants
Sometimes you get so caught up in your own head that you miss the big picture. But you need to think about your customers and what they’re expecting to get out of the deal.
Unless your company specializes in selling nothing more than 2 X 4 widgets all day every day (and by the way, good luck with that), don’t just stick with a standard cookie cutter formula for each sale.
Instead, try to customize or personalize as much as your business will allow, and really make your customers feel important. If, for example, your prospect hates filling out online forms, try sending them information via snail mail. It’s these little things that can set you apart and cause someone to choose you over another company.
You Didn’t Stand Out
We’ve talked previously about pinpointing your unique selling proposition (USP), which is what differentiates your business from your competitors when we discussed how to write a mission statement, and the same concept applies here.
It’s important to set yourself apart and give your customers a clear reason to choose you over their other options. Because if you don’t, what reason do they have to go with you instead of someone else?
What can you offer that other businesses can’t? Free shipping? 24/7 support? A lifetime supply of bananas? (Okay, that’s probably not something you should lead with, but you get the idea). Locate that, and you’ll have that magic little button that can give leads the extra nudge to become paying customers.
You Appeared Unprofessional
I know you’re eager for customers to close the deal, sign the dotted line, and shake on it, but don’t rush the process. You’ve already gotten them this far, so don’t lose them at the last second because of sloppiness or careless oversight.
If you’re closing the deal via a written statement, go back and re-read everything before sending, and have someone else proof as well. Look for typos and grammatical or careless errors. Make sure your facts and figures match up. If you told someone your services cost $500, but your contract says $300, you’ll only have yourself to blame.
If you’re closing a deal in person, dress the part and look presentable. If you’re meeting someone at your office, make sure to clean up and make the space comfortable. If it’s outside the office, leave early enough to account for traffic and other snafus.
It’s foolish to think you’ll win the sale every single time; sometimes there are factors outside out of your control; your customer moved out of state and your services were no longer applicable. Their dog died and they’ve been out of commission. Your business got caught in a hurricane and is now ten feet under water, et cetera, et cetera.
But special exceptions and natural disasters aside, if you focus on following up but not stalking, catering to your customer’s unique needs, and doing your best to stand out and make a good impression, the leads will come and the sales will follow.
And you won’t be waiting desperately by the phone.