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Why Aren’t You Winning More Business? The Real Reasons You’re Losing Sales

Not every deal will go your way. So you need to keep a close eye on your sales process to identify where you fall short. Here are the reasons you lose deals

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Why Aren’t You Winning More Business? The Real Reasons You’re Losing Sales

You win some, you lose some

Not every deal will go your way. I guess that's why they say, "you win some, you lose some!" 

But, it's also why we need to keep a close eye on our sales process to identify where we might be falling short and to keep doing what works.

Let's take a look at why you might be losing sales opportunities and what to do about it.

Why Aren’t You Winning More Business? The Real Reasons You’re Losing Sales

Why do we lose sales opportunities?

I think we can all do better at getting to the core of why we lose deals, so it was with interest that I stumbled across some research called “Why are you really losing sales opportunities? A buyers' perspective on the determinants of key account sales failures” and I thought we could talk about it.

So this was a joint study by the University of Nebraska, George State University and the University of North Carolina. It’s from 2014 but the findings are just as relevant today.

The researchers conducted 35 interviews between sales people, sales managers and buying decision makers following failed key account sales proposals. It’s qualitative research and not without bias, but hey, it’s a place to start!

They identified three drivers of sales failure:

  • Lack of adaptability.
  • Poor relationship
  • Excessive costs.

So let’s dig into them.


  • Lack of understanding
    • Not understanding needs
    • Not listening to requests
  • Lack of flexibility
    • Lack of adaptive abilities
    • Lack of flexible solutions
  • Attitude
    • Seller arrogance
    • Inability to change with buyer
    • Unresponsive


  • Inadequate collaboration
    • Lack of perceived seller commitment
    • Limited information sharing
  • Broken trust
    • Unmet performance expectations
    • Dishonesty
  • Entry barriers
    • Switching risks/costs
    • Satisfaction with incumbent

Excessive cost considerations

  • Greater costs
    • Higher priced
    • Supplemental costs
    • Negative cost savings
  • Lack of cost justification
    • Unfavourable cost-benefit ratio
    • Downstream cost constraints
  • Negative cost implications
    • Unaccommodating cost structure.
    • Negative cost attributions.
Why Aren’t You Winning More Business? The Real Reasons You’re Losing Sales

Win/loss reviews: 10 questions to ask

How many of you do win/loss reviews?

Maybe for the big deals, but do you do them for your smaller upsell/cross sell opportunities?

In all my years of key account management, I’ve rarely done them. I’ve taken whatever excuse my client made at face value, chalked it up to experience and moved on.

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself about your deals:

  1. What was the reason we won/lost the business?
  2. What were the deciding factors?
  3. How did our solution align with the business challenge and meet their needs?
  4. How did we compare in:
    1. Price
    2. Technical solution
    3. Value (outside the core solution)
    4. Ease of working with us
  5. How was the quality of our proposal?
  6. How effective was our team?
  7. Did we have access to decision makers?
  8. Did we have all the information we needed?
  9. Did we understand the buying process?
  10. Were there any open issues that influenced the decision?

I’ve turned this into a loss review checklist and added some more detail for The KAM Club members - just visit The KAM Kit to download.

Closing strategy checklist only for The KAM Club members
Why Aren’t You Winning More Business? The Real Reasons You’re Losing Sales

Favourite podcast

Audible-Ready Sales Podcast. A weekly show featuring B2B Sales leaders who share their best insights on how to improve sales effectiveness. They’ve got a great episode dedicated to win-loss reviews. I especially liked the advice not to document results and justifying the outcome (how often do we do that!). They explain how to ask the right questions that generate insights you can use to improve sales performance.

Why Aren’t You Winning More Business? The Real Reasons You’re Losing Sales

In other news

+ Win or Lose: Implementing a Post-Deal Review Process. This is an exceptional article from Guru all about hot to implement an win loss process in your organization. Lots of useful templates too.

At Guru, it’s the marketing team that owns the process. I’ve found in my own experience that having someone other than the sales lead conduct the review brings greater objectivity. It also helps clients open up in interviews as they don’t have to worry about saying something that might upset the sales lead.

+ Eat Their Lunch. One of my favourite sales books all about how to win business from the competition. It's a practical guide to displace the competition and has one of the best lead nurture campaigns I've ever seen. In fact I bought this book twice. Once on Kindle and again in hard copy because I wanted it as a reference I could keep on my desk.

+ How to Ask B2B Clients for Referrals. Pipeline dry? Why not ask your clients for introductions to people you should meet and who'd like to get the same results you've achieved for them? Read this article to learn how.

+ Why Client Ghost You (And What to Do About It). In this video I take a detailed look at the reasons client's don't answer your messages and some tactics on how to get them to respond.

The KAM Club. Learn more about the world's most amazing community of key account managers. And get access to tools, templates, guides, coaching and training, like How to Get Your Clients to Pay Attention and Take Action.

Why Aren’t You Winning More Business? The Real Reasons You’re Losing Sales

Quote of the week

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

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Have a great week

Warwick Brown

Warwick Brown

Warwick Brown is one of the leading key account management experts in the world. Through The KAM Club, a global membership community for key account managers, his blog that reaches 20,000 people every month, and a range of training and coaching services, Warwick has helped thousands of key account managers get better results, faster.
Go here to read Warwick's story from key account manager to entrepreneur. If you want to send Warwick a quick message, visit his contact page here.

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