The Dead Sale Autopsy

Dead Sale AutopsyTop sales champions, when ending a meeting with no sale, aren’t in a big hurry to forget it and move on. They have learned the value of conducting the dead sale autopsy. It’s a time to examine what went wrong and develop solutions to prevent it from happening again.

When the sale dies, you need to determine the cause and prevent it from spreading into other sales presentations like a disease. The results of dead sales autopsies are healthier future selling opportunities.

Start by following up with the decision maker. I know this can be a tough one. Our egos don’t want us to re-visit sites of past failures. However, you must, if you plan to succeed–truly succeed–long term in the field of sales.

Here’s what you’ll say to that decision-maker: John, I know you decided to go with another company. And, I really appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and present my product. I can also appreciate that you’re satisfied with your decision and hope you’ll at least consider doing business with me sometime in the future. May I ask you just a couple of quick questions to clarify my understanding of your decision?

If your non-buyer has accepted your call, they’ll most likely agree to answer a couple of questions. People really do like to be helpful when asked kindly. Adjust these questions to suit your personality and situation.

  • Do you feel there were any areas of miscommuncation in my presentation?
  • Was all the information you needed provided or did I overlook something?
  • Did the competition provide you with added information that tipped the scales in their favor? Or did they provide it in a way that was more appealing?
  • What were the specific benefits that won the day for the competition?
  • Is there anything I could have done better in my presentation that may have represented my company or my product in a better light?

Please give me your honest opinion. Don’t worry about hurting my ego. I am a professional. The information you provide may help me do a better job for other clients. My goal is to learn as much as possible from each presentation–sale or no sale– so I can constantly improve myself. If I’m correct in my thinking, wouldn’t your company benefit from it if your sales people asked these same questions of non-clients?

You may have lost this sale, but you’re sure to make a great impression on this decision-maker. Take great notes on everything they say. Consider each of their answers as fresh bullets in your arsenal of selling skills. You’re gaining new information and at the same time demonstrating competence–and that’s always the right impression to leave with people.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.



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  1. Great post Tom. It’s too easy to say, “they didn’t have a need” or some other excuse.


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