Why Do Sales Reps Lose Key Accounts?

Upset young businessman sitting at workplace, office background.

Sales reps drive your business. Yes, you give directions, but how they steer is up to them. No two sales reps are the same. You will always find individuals with their own style and approach to selling. Some master the art of B2B selling, some lack consistency in closing deals, and some frequently fail to close their accounts.

Like in any sport, losing is part and parcel of sales. However, you cannot forget the loss and move forward. At the end of every deal – whether it’s a close win or close loss – every sales rep or manager should evaluate what caused the result.

To do that, you need to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Here are some of the reasons (from the buyer’s perspective) why sales reps lose key accounts.

1. Lack of a Consultative Approach

Customers may think of a salesperson as someone who is tricking them into buying something, a regular seller with whom they do business or a trustworthy expert whose advice is taken. A trusted consultant maintains major benefits over other salespeople. However, only 18% of salespeople in the last year were rated as trustworthy advisors to be admired.

Possible Corrective Action

You need to collect as much data as possible to understand your buyers. Understand their challenges, their industry, technographic data (especially if you are selling a SaaS solution), and the expected outcome of their purchase. This will help you anticipate possible hurdles in implementing your solution. You can’t advise someone if you don’t know their situation.

2. Lack of Productive Communication with C-Suites

Sales reps often meet and communicate with the lower and mid-level people on the client’s end. These people tend to be the end-users or the influencers. Rarely do sales reps face a situation where they are asked to meet the C-level decision-makers. These meetings are critical and often scheduled at the last moment without much time to prepare. Also, meetings with the C-Suites are always a ‘go big or go home’ meeting. And that’s the point where the sales rep loses the deal.

Possible Corrective Action

You need to understand how C-level executives think and communicate with them in the vocabulary they use. Unfortunately, buyers report that customers say that less than one out of three sales reps will have a successful discussion with senior executives.

Practice your personalized pitch, and have as many hard numbers available ahead of time as possible for answering questions. If you get caught off guard, don’t panic. Say you’ll follow-up with the full answer and then do so right after the meeting.

3. Failure to Generate Enough Value

Buyers look for information to validate their strategic decisions. In other words, a product pitch needs to include the reasons and explanations that an influencer can provide to senior management about why they should buy a product. Various strategic principles include increasing sales, lowering costs, achieving a competitive edge, and standardizing processes to minimize risk. However, according to the buyer’s report from Steve Martin, only 54% of salespeople could clearly explain the impact of their solution on the buyer’s business.

Possible Corrective Action

Don’t introduce your solution before listening to their challenges. You need to understand the challenges and purpose of your buyers. Know their expectations for you. Try to put their objectives first and then present your solution as an answer to their concerns.

How can your product help them resolve their bottlenecks? What should they expect as an outcome of their purchase? Can you offer a cost-effective solution? These are a few questions that you should consider. So, listen carefully to what they are trying to convey, brainstorm, and then offer a solution tailored to their objective.

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4. Become Self-Centered

Buyers are smarter and more informed than ever before. Hammering your sales pitch or starting right away like the ‘Sell me This Pen’ approach will push your potential buyers to avoid you. Buyers feel pressured by self-centered sales reps. According to Hubspot’s recent research, 61% of buyers said not being pushy is the way to offer a positive experience.

Possible Corrective Action

The lesson is simple. Instead of focusing on the sales target or adding to your clientele, sales reps should concentrate more on helping buyers meet their goals. Sometimes you might have to admit your business isn’t a good fit. Better to gracefully let a bad deal go and circle back later when the situation may have changed.

5. Use the Wrong Closing Strategy.

One can easily get tempted to push for a quick deal if they get a few positive signals from the buyer. But, hold your tongue and cross that bridge when you come to it.

Overall, hard-core tactics such as “If you are closing this deal now, we will offer you a discount of $X on the product cost” are found to be the least successful. A hard close produces a binary “yes or no” answer from the customer and is aligned with a “take it or leave it” attitude.

Possible Corrective Action

Use soft-close techniques such as “If we are going to work together, we will wave off the POC cost.” A promise instead of an ultimatum is an excellent way to give your client enough time to think and offers something they find sensible and enticing. A soft close is based on a suggestion that leads buyers to believe they are in control when they have been gently guided to follow an action.

You can also track the buying signals of your potential buyers using buyer’s Intent Data. Intent Data identifies the buyer’s stage based on different signals such as what are the topics they are searching on the web.

6. Don’t Convey the Risks of Implementing Your Solution

Adding a new resource, tool, or process will have advantages as well as some risks. For instance, there is a risk involved for your product’s compatibility with your client’s current IT infrastructure.

B2B buyers are fixated on risk avoidance. Previous experiences with salespeople have left them cynical. As a result, vendors have massive requests for proposals, laborious appraisal spreadsheets, and records of each promised feature. However, one of the key reasons the transaction is not made after a lengthy assessment is that the vendor has not mitigated the risk.

Possible Corrective Action

There’s no doubt that there will be risks involved while implementing your solution. Your clients understand this. So, it is always better to maintain transparency with them. Tell them the possible risks before implementing your product. However, you should be ready with ways to minimize the risks. For instance, if you sense the compatibility issue with the client’s technical stack, learn about their current technology beforehand and have support materials ready.

7. Can’t Establish a Personal Connection With the Buyer

There is an equilibrium point where the buyer acknowledges the seller’s conviction and is not insulted by their insistence, which allows the partnership to evolve. Buyers cited five main reasons that lead to either poor “chemistry” or weak coordination with a single salesperson:

  • Hard selling approach.
  • There was a disparity in communication.
  • The salesperson’s attitude was somewhat different from mine.
  • The salesperson was trying to be overly friendly.
  • There was a disparity in age and experience.
Possible Corrective Action

Earning your buyer’s trust does not need a complicated strategy. The first step you can take is to offer an excellent buyer experience throughout the sales process. If there are other departments or employees involved while selling on your end, help them maintain a good understanding of the buyers and the complete buyer journey. When approaching major accounts, work to pair appropriate sales reps with the company and leadership they’re reaching out to.

Use SalesIntel Data to Tighten the Loose Strings

Accessing data from across various systems can be confusing and lead to human error. To make sales data quick, fast, and safe, SalesIntel offers all the ‘must-have’ data in one place.

With SalesIntel, you can sort the data based on firmographic, technological, and Buyer Intent Data. Also, you have access to VisitorIntel where you can unmask the identities of visitors visiting your website.

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