Why Retrospectives are the Sales Secret Sauce

Great news, it’s a sales win!  The contract is signed and implementation plans are in place. Is it time to move on to the next sale? Not so fast. The best next step, often overlooked, is a retrospective or lessons learned meeting with your new customer.  A retrospective is an opportunity to look back and debrief the buying and selling process. It’s to clearly understand those sales activities that were most effective in the customer’s eyes as well as those strategies that missed the mark. Retrospectives are an essential part of the collective learning process that will enhance your sales approach going forward.

A Powerful Argument for Retrospectives

Retrospectives, sometimes called a win/loss analysis, are powerful for the following reasons:

  • Your customer will appreciate your proactive approach and the opportunity to offer feedback.  
  • Since the sale is behind you, but still fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s a perfect time to confirm your understanding of their decision criteria, the decision process, and validate that your Win Themes™ were correct.
  • Lesson learned customer meetings, after a win, are a great time to ask for a reference, referral or case study.  

If you let the timing slip, and the customer has entered the implementation phase, then any small bump in the road can prevent a good debrief—as can the sheer volume of work, yours or theirs.

What about Losses?

But wait; are retrospectives only appropriate in win situations? Absolutely not. Retrospectives are equally critical for losses. The approach is slightly different but customers will almost always grant you the time to debrief and gain feedback from losses.  In a loss situation, it’s usually most effective to have your sales manager, company owner, or someone not emotionally tied to the sales process conduct the retrospective with the customer.

Prepare in Advance

Just as you would prepare for a sales call, a little preparation goes a long way toward meeting your desired objectives. Approaching the customer meeting with an open mind, open-ended questions, and leaving the door open to future opportunities will yield amazing results.  Your sole objective is to ‘seek to understand’ in order to facilitate improvement.

Next Steps for the Account Based Selling Team

The next step after the customer meeting is a debrief meeting with the account selling team.  Following the customer retrospective meeting, a summary of next steps include:

  • Gather the selling team following both wins and losses.
  • Share the results of the customer retrospective meeting.
  • Wins: Brainstorm all the things that went right.
  • Losses: When occur; analyze, avoid blaming, and note all the things that should be changed for next time.
  • Capture all learnings in your CRM for future reference.

Celebrate all Victories!

For large wins, a celebration is in order. Not only does a celebration reward individuals for their commitment to be the best, but it also reinforces the process and behaviors needed to continue successful outcomes.

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