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Understanding the Reasons Behind Lost B2B Sales Deals

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

In the complex world of business-to-business (B2B) sales, securing deals is often a challenging endeavour. While successes are celebrated, it's equally important to dissect the reasons behind lost deals.

For B2B salespeople, these losses provide invaluable learning opportunities to refine strategies, enhance customer relationships, and ultimately increase win rates. In this blog post, I’ll explore some common reasons why B2B salespeople lose deals and dig into how these setbacks can be turned into stepping stones for future success.

Based on my experience, the top eight reasons why deals are lost are,

1. Incomplete qualification The foundation of successful B2B sales lies in qualifying and understanding the unique needs and pain points of each customer. Salespeople who fail to thoroughly qualify the client's challenges often present solutions that miss the mark and don’t resonate with what’s the customer’s desired outcome from their investment. It's crucial to engage in deep conversations with customers, actively listen to their concerns, and tailor the offering to their specific requirements

2. Lack of Product Knowledge and Expertise A salesperson's ability to confidently communicate the value proposition of their product or service is paramount. Insufficient knowledge about what they're selling can result in confusion and distrust. Salespeople should invest time in mastering their offerings, ensuring they can address technical queries and communicate benefits effectively. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you lack credibility

3. Ineffective Communication Skills Sales is as much about communication as it is about the product. Salespeople who struggle to articulate their ideas, fail to explain the solution's value, or lack the ability to establish rapport will lose more deals than they win. Developing strong communication skills, both verbal and written, can bridge this gap and create a better connection with clients

4. Neglecting Relationship Building In the B2B landscape, relationships matter. Customers are more likely to do business with salespeople they trust and feel a connection with. Failing to invest time in building rapport and trust can hinder the progress of deals. Sales professionals should prioritise relationship-building by demonstrating genuine interest, empathy, and a long-term partnership mindset.

This includes keeping yourself relevant when the customer is not in buying mode, you can’t build a relationship when there’s money on the table

5. Ignoring or Mishandling Objections Objections are a natural part of the sales process. However, salespeople who brush aside objections or fail to address them adequately risk losing credibility. Skilful handling of objections involves active listening, empathetic responses, and presenting relevant solutions to alleviate client concerns

6. Inconsistent or Insufficient Follow-Up A lack of consistent follow-up is a common pitfall in the sales world. Customers will interpret it as disinterest or a lack of commitment. Regular and timely follow-up not only keeps the deal on track but also conveys dedication and professionalism.

If you can’t maintain a high level of enthusiasm before you close the deal, the customer will have grave concerns about how interested you will be after they’ve given you their money

7. Value Justification In B2B sales, pricing is often a decisive factor. If clients perceive the price to outweigh the value offered, they might opt for a competitor's solution or decide to find alternative ways to address the requirements. It's crucial for salespeople to effectively demonstrate the tangible and intangible benefits of their offering to justify the cost.

Moreover, to remember that the perception of value is personal to each person in the sales cycle.

8. Ignoring Stakeholder Dynamics B2B sales often involve multiple decision-makers. Salespeople who fail to navigate the complex web of stakeholder dynamics risk delays or lost deals. Understanding the decision-making process and building relationships with various stakeholders can be a game-changer

As mentioned earlier, it’s great to celebrate success when we win, but the real key to future success is understanding why we lose and developing the skills and processes to avoid doing so in the future.

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Mike Watson
Mike Watson
Sep 27, 2023

Great write up there, John. One thing I have noticed over the years is the dwindling part that relationships have in the B2B sales process. When I started out, it was all a bit of a boys club and it was often hard to break into those clubs, especially as a young rep straight out of University! Nowadays, with governance procedures, RFI's and the ubiquity of freely available information on via the WWW, a barrier has been placed between buyer and seller and often the buyer is close to completing the sales process before a salesperson has even been approached.

John Cunningham
John Cunningham
Sep 27, 2023
Replying to

Hi Mike,

You're absolutely right.

That's why the "you can’t build a relationship when there’s money on the table" in point 4 is key to success. You have to establish your connections and realtionships before the deal is in play, this gives you a chance to influence the cope of the requirement and increases your chance of success

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