Congratulations on closing the sale! The contract is signed and implementation is moving forward. Time to move on, right? Wait! Not so fast. Often overlooked is a retrospective meeting with decision makers. This is an opportunity to look back, debrief the process, and tweak your tactics. A retrospective conversation is a way to know what behaviors and strategies were most (and least) effective in the customer’s opinion. This function is an important part of the personal and team knowledge base — a way to improve and hone your sales stages, strategies, and tactics.
Retrospectives Pay Off on Many Levels
Retrospectives, sometimes called win/loss analyses, are powerful:
- The customer will see your interest in them and appreciate the opportunity to offer feedback.
- A sale in the immediate past is fresh in stakeholders’ minds, an ideal time to validate decision criteria, sales process, buyer’s process, and more.
- Feedback at this stage helps salespeople identify trends in buying behaviors so you and the sales team can adapt to these trends incrementally, instead of with wrenching change.
Retrospectives Are Also Good for Losses
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. Even though it’s hard to hear, you will learn about why you fell short or failed to measure up to your competitors.
Prepare and Rehearse
Retrospective meetings require the same level of planning that you put into a sales call. Have a list of the questions you think are important. Approach the meeting with an open mind, and an understanding that there will be areas for improvement–try not to take it personally. The objective is to learn what you need to bring about improvement. A frank conversation can uncover previously unknown components about buying decisions — e.g., political struggles, social issues, undisclosed risks, and more.
What To Do Next
Widely share the insights that you derive from the meeting, including:
- Gathering the sales team to discuss (wins and losses).
- Reviewing the answers and results of the meeting.
- Summarizing lessons learned (without blame!)
- Finding the most effective method to “cement” the lessons throughout the organization.
- Recording findings in your CRM system or elsewhere for easy access.
The retrospective offers a true customer perspective that will yield important insights and trends in the buying process and attitude.
Retrospectives are also a great opportunity to ask for a referral and/or reference. Aim to do the retrospective before the customer enters the implementation stage, where any small bump can put a reference on hold!