• What are the main reasons clients decide to choose the offer of your competitor instead of your offer?
  • How to ask clients about the reasons for their decisions?
  • When not to ask?
"Why did you choose the competition?"

Nobody likes to lose. That’s one reason why salespeople are constantly expanding their product knowledge, improve their sales skills, and pay attention to establishing the best possible relationships with potential customers. However, the truth is inescapable: not every sales attempt will be successful, for various reasons. And although salespeople are focused on winning, it’s also worth having a scenario for what to do in the case of failure.

Gregory dialled the phone number of the purchasing director of the company to which he’d presented a comprehensive offer three weeks earlier. He’d got in touch with the purchasing director a few years earlier, but it was only this year that they finally managed to meet and talk face-to-face about the company’s needs. There were several meetings in total, at which they discussed practically all issues related to cooperation. It was Gregory who suggested that they have a conversation about some of these issues - that was how he understood his role in the sales process, and that was how he wanted to emphasise his twelve years of experience and the professional knowledge he had gained in that time. He also made sure that people with influence over the final decision participated in the conversations. He specifically raised the issues of the budget and of his prospective client’s relationships with his competitors. He used the information obtained and worked with specialists from the technical department to prepare the offer that he personally presented during the last meeting. Once he’d finished, he set a deadline for the decision. That deadline was today.

- Yes. Indeed - he heard the voice on the other end of the phone say. We took many factors into account and eventually chose another supplier’s offer.

– But why? What made this happen? - Gregory asked.

- Oh, well, that’s really not a conversation to have over the phone. As I said, many factors influenced the decision. We’ll get back to this at the earliest possible opportunity. In the meantime, thank you for your work. Goodbye.

Failure is part of the game

It’s quite telling that sales training rarely addresses this issue. Frankly speaking, I can’t remember a training session where we discussed what the salesperson should do when they learn that the client chose a competing offer. Why? Perhaps this shows that we don’t take the possibility of losing seriously. And while all salespeople fail, only a few try to learn from their failures. To do that, we have to know why the client chose another offer.

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