How to keep a sales lead alive, even when you lose a deal

The art of selling has been a matter of study ever since mankind existed. And no sales professional has tasted 100% success. Failure is just a part of it. But are there ways to create future business opportunities even when you have just lost a deal?

The answer is yes.

In a B2B scenario, a business proposal pursuit runs into a few months, or even more than a year. It involves various steps such as proposing a product or solution, responding to RFPs (Request For Proposal), price negotiations and the final go-no-go decision.

And the result could always go either way. But as a business or sales professional, you need to open up possibilities to do future business with the prospect. In this article, I will discuss a few such ways to keep a sales lead live, even after losing a deal.

So here we go

1. Explore advisory and consulting opportunities

You could lose a business deal due to a number of factors such as price, quality of product/service, team composition, personal rapport etc. But losing a deal doesn’t mark the end of a business relationship. Customers would always be open to doing business with a vendor or seller, as long as it justifies their goals.

Once a deal is finalized, you mostly have to wait for months or years to get an opportunity from the same prospect. However, a business is always in need of some guidance in various initiatives, especially if they are venturing into new areas.

So you could gauge the prospect’s interest in engaging consultants for advisory services, to help them initiate and implement different projects. You could offer a flexible model in which you provide the customer with consultants, as and when required.

Typically such projects will not be a major revenue source for your business, but rather is just an avenue of keeping a sales lead alive.

2. Take corrective action based on the prospect’s feedback

As I have mentioned above, losing a deal could be owing to many factors. And in most of the situations, you will be able to figure out the reason. Either the customer will tell you, or you will get to know about it from mutual connects.

In either case, there would be certain things that you did wrong in the business proposal. Maybe you didn’t do the pricing right. Or your solution wasn’t good enough. It is also possible that the prospect’s personal preferences had a play.

Whatever the reason may be, you need to take corrective actions to improve it. It will definitely help you do well in future pursuits.

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But you might be thinking how this will help in keeping the current sales lead alive.

Once you have made the changes, you can communicate this to the prospect, saying that you have taken necessary steps based on their feedback. When this can’t get you the deal back, most of the customers would appreciate such an effort.

This will not only keep you in the fray for future business, but also improve the possibility of winning any consulting assignments.

3. Invite the prospects to events and conferences

This is probably the easiest way to keep your sales leads alive. Being a business, you host multiple events and conferences a year. Or you take part in a few.

And these conferences are a gold mine of opportunity for you to network with your peers, prospects, industry leaders and academicians.

So why not invite the prospect to this event? But what’s in it for them?

The answer is simple. They also get to interact with a wide range of industrialists, thought leaders, service providers etc. Moreover they get a feel of what’s trending in the industry.

But when you invite them, treat it like a sales pitch. Make sure you mention the details of the event such as topics discussed, prominent speakers, other participants etc.

4. Conduct targeted and custom email campaign

In the process of working on a business proposal, you get to know your prospect’s business pretty well. You already know their business needs, problems and pain points. You are aware of their culture and way of working. You probably know their sweet spots.

Now, you have to leverage these info to create new business opportunities. And one of the ways of doing it is to conduct an email campaign.

But of course you do not want the prospect to get one of those generic marketing emails you send out. Do you?

So make your email as specific as possible. Think about the purpose of the email campaign first. Is it improving website traffic? Promoting a product or solution? Inviting for a webinar?

Whatever it is, try to relate it back to the prospect’s business scenarios. Include a couple of liners on how this new solution or info could help transform their business. Let them know of any customization you could make to the solution to suit their needs and requirements.

The idea is not to write an essay. But you get the intent here. Make your email specific, to the point, but yet short. Also make sure it goes out from a ‘human’ mailbox than something like ‘Marketing’ or ‘Business’.

Consistent email communication helps to stay in touch with the prospect, and always keeps the channel open for any kind of communication.

5. Share relevant information with the prospect

You might wonder how mere sharing of information can help to keep a sales lead alive.

Well, the key lies in sharing useful and relevant information. Business professionals, especially leaders have a hectic schedule, and might not have the time to follow the trends in the industry, latest technologies, new solutions, changing vendor landscape etc.

If you are able to share such useful information that the prospect is interested in, you will be able to generate some interest and establish yourself as a useful connect.

But you can’t share just any information. Can you? It needs to be related to the products and services you sell, and your areas of expertise. Following are a few tactics you can use to ensure you hook the prospect to something of business value to you:

  • Share the info of one of your offerings that align with the latest industry trends. Start by mentioning the trend, then state the details of how your offering is in line with that trend.
  • A whitepaper that will act as a guide for your prospect to take business decisions. This will help improve your credibility.
  • An analyst newsletter that talks about trending topics. For example, in the IT industry, analyst firms like Gartner, Everest, Forrester etc. publish newsletters on multiple topics.

So those are my tips to keep a sales lead alive even after losing a deal. Are you already using any of these techniques in your business or profession? Let me know in the comments section.

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