Have you ever watched in horror as your favorite sports team lost in a game you thought was going to be a guaranteed win only to see them drop the ball (pun intended) at the last minute? It can be pretty devastating. Instead of enjoying the spoils of victory, you are now yelling four-letter words and flinging food at the TV.

This familiar scenario can also rear its ugly head in the world of sales.

Sales reps (and CEOs) love closing big deals. Therefore, it can be quite upsetting for sales management when a rep loses a large deal, especially one they thought was a shoo-in to win. In order to prevent such last-minute upset from occurring, it is important to first understand why the they are occurring and then correctly and effectively respond to them.

The Upset

When you ask a sales rep what went wrong, the most common response is something along the lines of, “I did everything right and followed the plan. We had a verbal agreement, but right before closed I got a call from the customer letting me know he was going with someone else. He said he was pulling for us but ultimately, the decision wasn’t his.”

Does this statement sound familiar?

The rep said he did everything right, so what’s the problem?

The Problem

If you look closely at the rep’s explanation, you will catch the glaring issue. The client clearly states that, “Ultimately, the decision wasn’t his.”

What does that mean? It means that the rep never actually reached the intended customer with actual buying authority. He was never able to go beyond his initial point of contact, therefore placing the outcome of the deal in the wrong person’s hands.

The Appropriate Response

Below are the three steps key to ensuring this devastating mistake doesn’t happen again.

Step 1: Determine the Gravity of the Issue – Start by looking at your sales funnel by employee. Focus in on the ‘Closing Stage’ of the funnel and filter your results to reveal unconverted deals. What are the primary reasons for the losses? In the example of Joe Smith below, we can see that he has lost 6 deals in the past 90 days, 4 of which were due to lack of authority. Each of these deals were also valued at a high price, indicating that this was a serious area of concern. After identifying the significance of the issue, you can implement the corrective next steps.

  • Step 2: Conduct a Loss Analysis with your Reps – Schedule a meeting with your reps. Have them bring their activity history for the deals lost due to authority. Ask them first to identify the main influencers in the deal based on relationships and power within the company. Then, ask for the number of major interactions (a formal meeting, presentations, attended calls, etc.) they had with these members. Was the number high or low? Did they correctly point out the high-powered individuals? Did they incorrectly identify unanswered emails and messages as a major interaction?

  • Step 3: Take Action – Analyze the results. If the correlation between top influencers and interactions is low, then your reps are losing qualified opportunities. Hold training sessions immediately to prevent further losses. Make sure your reps are clear on who the target customer is, and provide some key strategies on how to reach the intended personas. Reinforce the implementation of these strategies with follow-up meetings.


Your reps are frustrated – they are losing deals at the last minute and they’re not quite sure why. Follow the bread crumbs. What are the real reasons your reps are losing? Have they received the proper training? Are they reaching the right people? Uncover these issues and then respond immediately – implement the necessary steps in order to prevent the upsetting loss of high probability deals.

Why are your reps losing deals at the last minute? Sound off with your comments below!


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