after a big winGreat news, you won the sale!  The contract is signed and implementation plans are in place.  Is it time to move on to the next sale?  Not so fast. The best next step, often overlooked, is a retrospective meeting with your new customer.  A retrospective is an opportunity to look back and debrief the buying and selling process.  It’s important to clearly understand those sales activities that were most effective in the customer’s eyes as well as those strategies that missed the mark.  Retrospectives are an essential part of the collective learning process that will enhance your sales approach going forward.

A Powerful Argument for Retrospectives

Retrospectives, sometimes called a win/loss analysis, are powerful for the following reasons:

Your customer will appreciate your proactive approach and the opportunity to offer feedback.

Since the sale is behind you, but still fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s a perfect time to validate decision criteria, the decision process, win themes™ and so much more.

Learn about trends in customer’s buying behaviors.

What About Losses?

But wait; are retrospectives only appropriate in win situations?  Absolutely not.  Retrospectives are equally critical for losses.  The approach is slightly different but customers will almost always grant you the time to debrief and gain feedback from losses.  In a loss situation, it’s usually most effective to have your sales manager, company owner, or someone not emotionally tied to the sales process conduct the retrospective with the customer. Even though it’s hard to hear, you will learn about why you fell short for failed to measure up to your competitors.

Prepare in Advance

Just as you would prepare for a sales call, a little preparation goes a long way toward meeting your desired objectives. Approaching the customer meeting with an open mind, open-ended questions, and leaving the door open to future opportunities will yield amazing results.  Your sole objective is to ‘seek to understand’ in order to facilitate improvement.  If done correctly, you will uncover clues into factors such as political, social, risk or other struggles that impacted the decision.

Next Steps

Don’t be stingy with the insights that you’ve gained. Following the customer retrospective meeting, next steps include:

  1. Gather the selling team following both wins and losses. Review the results of the customer retrospective meeting. Focus on lessons learned. Avoid blaming!
  2. Determine best method for organizational sharing and learning.
  3. Record your findings in your CRM system or elsewhere for easy access. The retrospective offers a true customer perspective that will yield important insights and trends in the buying process and attitude.

Retrospectives are also a great chance to ask for a referral and/or reference.  If you let the timing slip, and the customer has entered the implementation phase, then any small bump in the road can put a good reference ‘on hold’.

Good luck and good selling!

Lisa Magnuson, sales strategist and founder of Top Line Sales, LLC, guides high potential sales people and account teams to land larger deals and accelerate sales. Lisa is passionate about her mission to help her clients win more business. How can we help you? You tell us!  We craft solutions around your requirements.