Performance Management Friday — Abandoned Deals


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Last week, I talked about the importance of Win Loss Analysis. No one questions doing win/loss analysis, in particular, we really worry about losses. There is a hidden performance and resource drain that can have a dramatic impact on our success. It’s the abandoned deal.

Abandoned deals happen more frequently then we think–we usually don’t track them well. But they’re the deals that we’ve qualified and pursue proactively. We may abandon them for many reasons–we lose interest, our customers lose interest in us, we see that we can’t win, or any other reasons. Increasingly, however, I’m seeing the most damaging type of abandoned deals, “No Decision Made.” These are tragic–we invest in the entire sales cycles. We spend our time, we invest resources from our company, we go right to the end and nothing happens.

We don’t win, we don’t get the order–but no one does, so no one loses. The customer just doesn’t make a decision.

There’s another way this happens. We go through the sales cycle and the customer–the functional managers get excited. They select us, then they go to executive management for funding–and the executives choose to invest in a completely unrelated project–something that has nothing to do with the functional group we have been working with. It’s not a competitive loss–it’s just that our project is a lower priority than others they are considering.

I’m seeing an increasing numer of abandoned deals, typically, we don’t pay much attention to them. We analyze our Wins and Losses, but abandoned deals fall off our radar screens. But these deals can be very significant. In the past month, I’ve been invovled analyzing several companies—some capital/equipment companies, a major systems integrator, a few software companies and a few services companies. The lowest rate of abandoned deals was 22%. Most were significantly higher.

Think of that, think of the impact of these levels of abandoned deals–a minimum of 22% of your pipeline has disappeared! Think of the time you’ve invested, think of the emotional investment that you have in the deal. Think if the resources you have invested and the expectations you have raised in your company.

But usually we don’t pay attention to this–we track wins and losses. We just kind of forget about abandoned deals.

What do we do to reduce abandoned deals–I’ll spend more time on this issue in some future blog posts, however, by belief this is largely a qualification problem. We push a customer to look at something, but it doesn’t have a high sense of urgency. At the end of the cycle, they just shrug and decide to do nothing. We avoid this by really looking at the urgency, the consequences of not solving the problem very early in the sales cycle. We check to see if the project is high on the priorities of the executive teams–the people controlling the purse strings.

Don’t just look at wins and losses. Remember abandoned deals are important to track. Understanding those abandoned deals, avoiding them at qualification is important to producing results and managing your time.

Do you really understand how your customers make decisions? Do you know how to map their process, who to call on next, what to talk about–to have most impact? For a free eBook on Understanding Your Customer’s Decision Making Process, email me with your full name and email address, I’ll be glad to send you a copy. Just send the request to: [email protected],

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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