At Satrix Solutions, we conduct hundreds of Sales Win-Loss interviews every month on behalf of our B2B clients. These in-depth interviews provide very detailed and candid feedback on all the factors that contributed to a buyer selecting our client or a competitor. Every interview is unique, as we listen carefully for cues and probe to deeply understand every facet of the evaluation process, emphasizing what went well, any opportunities for improvement, and how the buyer viewed our client versus their competitors. Over time, themes emerge that serve as a roadmap of where the company can replicate success and what course corrections are possible in the near and long term that could turn losses into wins.
So, what are the more common reasons B2B companies lose deals?
- Price And Packaging
- Missing Features
- Roadmap Visibility And Breadth
- Ease Of Use, UI/UX
- Service Needs And Expectations
- Competitive Dynamics
- Sales Process
- Organizational Changes
- Poor Quality
- Onboarding & Implementation
Price and Packaging
Not surprisingly, pricing and packaging are often prominent reasons B2B companies lose sales. With that said, our interviews reveal that pricing is rarely the only reason for a loss. When discussing pricing is explored further, it is often revealed that confusion about a company's pricing model can play a role. Success also lies in providing flexible and transparent pricing compared to the competition and effectively communicating the value proposition. Another factor related to pricing is the seller's ability to work with the prospect's procurement operation and process, especially with enterprise companies. We sometimes hear that the total cost of ownership was within an acceptable range, but the deal was lost because procurement perceived the approach to pricing as too vague or confusing, which led to lower predictability in the expenditure over time.
Deals are often lost because the buyer perceives a competing solution as having more robust features or functionality. Such perceptions can be accurate, but we find that an ineffective demo process can also be the culprit. If a demo isn't tailored to the buyer or effective at showing all relevant features, it could foster misperceptions within the buying committee that contribute to a loss. When feature gaps do exist, the win or loss interviews (as well as other VoC efforts) can help the seller determine how important those deficiencies are among the ICP segment. Understanding customer needs, staying ahead of industry trends, and transparently addressing feature gaps can transform what might seem like a hindrance into an opportunity for collaboration and improvement.
Roadmap Visibility and Breadth
Customers often seek assurances about the future of the products and services they invest in. If the roadmap isn't visible or comprehensive enough, prospects may harbor concerns about the longevity and relevance of the proposed partnership. By embracing transparency, aligning with customer needs, and showcasing a commitment to continuous improvement and innovation, businesses can not only win more deals but also position themselves as leaders in the competitive B2B landscape. The roadmap is not just a plan but a commitment to a shared journey towards success.
Ease of Use, UI/UX
It may be surprising to learn that an aesthetically pleasing user interface can play an important role in winning competitive deals. Even when a solution includes a comparatively robust feature set, the perception of an antiquated user experience can kill the deal. Buyers often prefer tools that are seen as modern and easy to use - even if they lose out on some capabilities. When we probe further to understand why, the thinking often relates to a view that adoption among their team is likely to be greater and that a modern interface suggests the company is committed to bringing new and innovative tools to market.
Service Needs and Expectations
Understanding and meeting customer service needs and expectations are paramount for buyers. If a company consistently falls short in delivering the expected level of service or fails to address specific requirements, it could result in lost sales opportunities. This is particularly true when professionals rely heavily on recommendations from their industry peers. It is common in certain sectors for a buyer to ask others in the industry to share their experiences. If negative word-of-mouth about service/support is prominent, it may lead to the company being removed from consideration.
While some buyers may select a company or solution without a detailed evaluation of the marketplace, nearly every win or loss includes a competitive element. A formal review of multiple companies will often include considerations for every item on this list and how your company compares to others. When done properly (and by a 3rd party), a win or loss interview will reveal detailed insights into how the seller's team, offering, pricing, messaging, roadmap, UI/UX, etc. all compare to others in the industry. Knowing precisely what leads to losses should be actioned to address buyer perceptions over time. Just as important is your company's understanding of your competitors' strategies to win against you or steal your existing customers. Maintaining up-to-date competitive intelligence (such as battlecards) is central to this effort.
Concerns with Sales Process
The journey from prospect to customer should be smooth and efficient. If customers find the sales process too long, convoluted, or have concerns with their sales contact, it can sour the relationship and impact the decision-making process. If a sales contact is slow to respond, doesn't answer questions effectively, or is seen as not managing the sales process well, it will often cause the buyer to wonder if their experience as a customer will be similar. Also, the ability of the salesperson to adapt to the buyer's way of thinking can make the difference between a win or loss. One common example is the frequency of following up with the budget owner. The same number of 'touches' could cause one buyer to view the salesperson as pestering them, whereas it may lead another to feel the salesperson wasn't hungry for the sale. Reading the situation and adapting accordingly can turn what would have been a loss into a win.
Business landscapes are ever-evolving, and changes in leadership, acquisitions, or mergers can significantly impact ongoing processes. Prospects may halt or reconsider their engagement if organizational changes create the perception of instability. Similarly, turnover on the sales team could also raise questions and hinder sales opportunities. However, when leadership or staff changes are accompanied by strong messaging and effective hand-offs, buyers are less likely to hold it against the company during the sales process.
Ultimately, the quality of the product or service is non-negotiable. If prospects perceive a lack of quality or inconsistency in the delivery, it can erode trust and lead to the loss of B2B sales. By prioritizing consistent excellence, fostering customer satisfaction, and leveraging effective communication, businesses can not only salvage deals but also position themselves as trusted partners. The commitment to quality is not just a goal; it's the compass that guides successful and enduring client relationships.
Onboarding and Implementation
Even if everything above goes well, a company's ability to onboard new customers and expedite 'go-live' dates could be a 'make or break' with prospects. Buyers don't just want a reasonable expectation of time-to-value. They also want to know they will be well cared for during the process. This includes high-quality training, a strong onboarding team, a well-defined implementation process that meets agreed-upon timelines, and technical support that is effective at answering questions and resolving issues that may arise. If the perception among the buyer is that other customers have experienced issues in any of these areas, it can result in a lost sale.
These are just a few of the common reasons B2B companies lose sales opportunities. A robust Sales Win-Loss program can provide detailed learnings and insights about the specific win and loss drivers that may be contributing to your company's sales effectiveness.