» 5 Ways to Handle Losing a Sale

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

In the perfect world of butterflies and rainbows, we’d close every sale at the exact price we want – but we don’t live in a perfect world. There are no trophies for second place when it comes to winning a sale. You either get the sale or you don’t, so what do you do if you don’t get the sale? I’d like to give you a little perspective from my many years working in sales management and, more importantly, from working with wedding pros like you.

5 Ways to Handle Losing a SaleHere are five ways to handle losing a sale:

  1. Rejection is in the eyes of the beholder. When you don’t get a sale you might feel like you’ve been rejected, but that’s not usually the case. They just liked / trusted / believed someone else more. Isn’t that semantics? I prefer to call it optimism. When it comes to choosing the perfect pro in your category, there can only be one winner. That doesn’t make all of the others losers; they may like a few of you enough to hire you, but ultimately they have to choose one.How many weddings do you do each year? That’s how many times they’ve chosen you and not another wedding pro. Are you the winner? Yes, but you may not have been their only choice. Had you not been available they would have chosen someone else, someone who is very capable, and nice, and likely at a similar price point. So, while this isn’t like elementary where everyone seems to get a trophy just for showing up, there’s a winner and then there’s everyone else.
  1. You often lose the sale before you even had a chance. Often you lose a sale before you even knew that they were looking for someone in your category. Some couples are looking for you in places where you don’t have a presence (a certain wedding show, Instagram, Pinterest, their wedding site of choice, etc.). To them you don’t exist, but that was your choice; you chose not to be at that wedding show, or you chose to forgo an Instagram account, or you chose to take the free listing instead of paying for the more visible listing. I’ve often said that if you want others to invest in you, you have to invest in yourself first.

Other times they make it through to your website but leave without contacting you. They’re a legitimate prospect, but you lost them, often without even knowing they had shown interest (going to your website is a very big buying signal). Keeping your website’s functionality and content up to date is critical for plugging this hole.

  1. If they wanted to talk on the phone they would have called. If you’re getting most of your inquiries through email these days (and who isn’t?), then you need to make sure you’re learning to have better email conversations. If many of your email conversations stop after the first exchange, that’s your cue to change the way you communicate. Their first email is likely to ask about price, but that makes sense because they don’t know how to shop for your product or service. You also may not have pricing on your website. According to a WeddingWire survey, 88% of couples are looking for pricing information before they reach out to you. So, if you have no pricing information on your website, you’re encouraging them to ask about price. If your first response is trying to push them to a phone call you’re going to lose many of them. Why? If they wanted to talk on the phone they would have called you.

Customers show us how they want to communicate by the way they contact us. Another reason they don’t want to talk on the phone is that they’re likely to be at work when they reach out, and they can’t (or shouldn’t) talk about their wedding during work hours. So if you’re trying to force them to adapt to your preferences and get on a call right away, you could be losing out on many opportunities where the leads go cold after your first reply.

  1. Learn from the experience. Successful entrepreneurs understand that every failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. Take a look at your email exchanges and see if you can identify where the conversation went downhill, or stopped. If they’re going quiet at similar points, or after similar topics, try to adjust your conversations. Also, ask someone else read your emails and see if they can identify any issues – it’s often hard to critique your own writing.
  1. Ask why you lost the sale. Should you ask them why they went with someone else? Sure – the worst thing that could happen is that they don’t respond. First be humble and wish them well. Then, if you choose to ask them I think a good question is, “What did you find with someone else that you didn’t find with me (us)?” That’s a lot softer than “Why didn’t you go with me (us)?” Asking them “What did you find with someone else…” could give you insight into what their priorities are and why they perceived another pro to be a better choice.

Remember that it’s not whether you are the better choice; it’s whether they perceive you to be the better choice. It’s also OK to be a little upset that you lost the sale, but it’s not OK to hold onto that anger or frustration. Learn from the experience and do a better job next time. If what you’re doing was working a few years ago and now it’s not, it’s up to you to learn to adapt. Customers don’t adapt to us; we adapt to them. Happy selling!