Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

When a sales rep fails to close an opportunity or loses a deal, sales managers will invariably want to know why. A sales team can’t move forward and learn from its mistakes if individual reps don’t know what mistakes they are making in the first place. This is why having lost reasons as part of your opportunity management is crucial. Managers need to make it mandatory for every rep to record a lost reason for every lost opportunity. Having a culture of recording loss reasons doesn’t give reps anywhere to hide when opportunities move to the lost stage, while providing sales managers with more insightful and detailed Salesforce reports. Learn how to easily set up lost reasons in Salesforce.

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Incorporate Lost Reasons Into Your Opportunity Management

The first step is to set up your picklist of lost reasons for your sales reps to choose from. In Salesforce:

1) Click on “Setup” under your name.

2) Click on “Customize” under “App Setup,” then “Opportunities” and “Fields.” This screen gives you a chance to create “New” Opportunity Custom Fields and Relationships.

3) Specify the field type (“Picklist”), fill in the details of what values you want in your picklist (i.e. the lost reasons that are applicable to your sales team) Salesforce Reports - Picklist

4) Add this new picklist option to the appropriate reports and your team is now well on it’s way to specifying a reason for each lost opportunity. Salesforce Reports - Picklist Details

The next step is to coach your reps to add this small, but important, step to their sales process. For starters, make this a mandatory field in Salesforce. Set up the CRM so that reps cannot save opportunity details or move on to the next one until a lost reason has been specified. Impress upon them the critical nature of recording a specific reason for each lost opportunity.

Make sure to choose the right lost reasons for your picklist as well. “Can’t contact” and “None” are bad reasons that indicate laziness on the part of your sales reps in not pursuing or qualifying the opportunity well enough, or in failing to discern a specific lost reason from the contact. Additionally, implement a close lost detail box for reps to add more specifics. Every lost reason within the picklist – but especially for vague reasons such as “Other” – should be supported with more details. Sales managers who are armed with more in-depth information on why reps are losing deals will be better positioned to coach and improve their opportunity management.

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Having a normalized list of lost reasons in Salesforce is an essential element of sales coaching and analytical sales management. When sales managers go to their won/lost reports, they can visualize an overview of all lost opportunities, or segment by specific lost reasons. This information can drive better business decisions for many different teams within the organization.

Sales managers will be able to coach opportunity management more efficiently and effectively. The product team will gain instant feedback on what areas they might need to improve in. C-level executives could gain insights into whether they are selling to the right market, or if they have the right price point. Setting up lost reasons in Salesforce is a simple process that can lead to critical insights that touch every team in a company.

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Showing 6 comments
  • chrispomeroy

    Great article for instructions on how to set up the picklist, however you left out instructions on how to make the Lost Reasons field required if the stage is set to closed lost. Can you write another post on how to do this?

  • Gareth Goh

    Thanks for the feedback Chris! Your point is well noted – we will address that issue on how to make the Lost Reasons field required if the stage is set to closed lost in an upcoming blog post.

  • Julio Oliveira

    Hi! Great article. A simple validation rule is enough to force the usage of the “lost reason” field:

    IF(AND(CONTAINS(TEXT(StageName), “Closed Lost”), LEN(TEXT(lost_reason__c)) = 0), true, false)

  • Renee

    hmmm, this is throwing me an error message. I have changed the API names and still get a syntax error with “Closed highlighted
    IF(AND(CONTAINS(TEXT(StageName), “Closed Lost”), LEN(TEXT( Loss_Reason__c )) = 0), true, false)

  • Leah

    I updated the closed/lost picklist based on the instructions above however when I got to an opportunity the new options are not there. Is there another step?

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