Ever watched your favorite player strike out with the bases loaded? In the bottom of Sales Loses A Big Dealthe 9th? If your sales team has lost a big deal recently, this article is for you. So is this Stakeholder Assessment Tool.


The most troublesome loss is one the sales team virtually guaranteed.


The Situation

I recently spoke with a sales manager about a big deal one of his reps lost. When I asked what happened, here’s what he told me.  “We had a verbal. Our bases were covered. We were finishing up some last bits on the proposal and T&Cs.


At the 11th hour, my rep got a phone call from the client. He said they were going with someone else. It was out of his hands. He championed us all the way through the deal. He pushed for us until the very end. Ultimately, it wasn’t his decision and we lost. He apologized to the rep for 10 minutes.”


Sound familiar? It appeared the rep did everything he was asked to do. As we continued our dialogue, the manager told me the rep:



The Problem

There was 1 subtle, yet vital comment the manager made to me about his conversation. “It wasn’t his decision and we lost.”


The rep got single-threaded in the deal. He never went beyond his initial point of contact to develop relationships. If this is happening in your big deals, they are in jeopardy of being lost.


The Impact

Big deals are like puzzles. A rep has to put each piece together in order to win. Without all of the pieces, the rep in this situation was at a disadvantage. He lost the deal to a competitor who had all the pieces. Can your sales team put the puzzle pieces together?


Ignoring this might not only have cost you a big deal last quarter. It may cost you loads more in the future.


A Solution

If you’re wondering if you should hit the panic button, here’s a way to find out.


The stakeholder wheel below is an example of how to identify members of a Buying Decision Team (BDT). A BDT represents all of the key stakeholders who can impact a purchase. Everyone from buyers who “approve” purchases to “influencers” who help those in charge decide.


Client Stakeholder Wheel resized


For a more advanced version, download the Stakeholder Assessment Tool.


Here are 4 steps to determine the significance of this issue:


1. Pull up the account in CRM for the last big deal you lost

2. Look at the number of contacts, titles and contact info listed

3. Review recent activity history (emails, call notes, meetings, etc.)

4. Compare what’s in your CRM to the enclosed stakeholder wheel


If the result closely mirrors the stakeholder wheel image, stop. This is not the reason you lost the deal. But, you may not be out of the woods.  


Do This Instead: Schedule a win-loss review with the client to probe deeper into what happened.


If the exercise doesn’t resemble the wheel, download the tool. Conduct an internal post mortem with your rep and sales manager. Keep digging.


How to Conduct an Internal Post Mortem

When you’re ready to sit down with your sales manager and rep, here’s how to do this.


1. Ask the rep to complete the Stakeholder Assessment Tool


2. The tool will help determine the power for each member of the BDT. This is based on relationship and influence


3. The rep will input the # of major interactions completed with each BDT member


4. The final row highlights issues for further investigation


Note: Not all interactions are “major interactions.” A major interaction is a formal meeting with a member of the BDT. Examples are: in-person meetings, scheduled calls, presentations, etc. Major interactions are not unreturned emails, messages left, visits in the hallway.


Taking Action

This part is simple. If your post mortem reveals few issues, your team is executing. You’ve answered the question on the magnitude of the issue. The win-loss will give you additional insights into why you lost.


If the correlation of high-powered individuals to interactions is low, your team missed opportunities.If your business depends on selling high-ticket items, this can’t happen. Your team needs to execute better. They are struggling to win big deals. This is an issue because it will continue to occur.


The Stakeholder Assessment Tool sits inside a custom sales process. Many organizations we encounter use legacy processes that don’t focus on the buyer. We’ve written about this extensively here, here and here.


Your team may be having a hard time because they are applying an old process to a new buyer. Start by using the tool to conduct a deal post mortem. Follow the bread crumbs and uncover the real issues holding your team back.