Reviving lost sales opportunities: A step-by-step strategy

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Even the most talented SDRs lose sales opportunities from time to time. Leads go cold, prospects pull out, executives move jobs — it happens. But the best reps know that lost leads aren’t dead leads. With the right approach and the right timing, there’s every chance you can bring them back to life.

Ready to perform CPR on your database? Here’s a step-by-step strategy to re engage lost sales opportunities and close more meetings.Reviving Lost Sales Opportunities: A Step-by-Step Strategy

Step 1: Create a list

Lost SDR opportunities typically fall into three buckets: prospects who weren’t ready to book a meeting, prospects who scheduled a meeting but never followed through and warm prospects who suddenly went cold. 

The most obvious candidates are the leads you almost converted, but who just weren’t ready to commit to your product. They might not have had the budget. Maybe they didn’t have the need. Either way, they didn’t want to book an appointment and you stopped following up. 

Prospects who booked a meeting but never went through with it also make great lost opportunity targets. These people have actively shown an interest in your product and gone out of their way to meet with your sales executive. Okay, the meeting didn’t end up happening. But things might be different now.

Prospects you’ve lost contact with or given up on. How many times have you been moving a prospect down your pipeline when they suddenly go silent? They don’t pick up your calls, they don’t respond to your emails. It’s Tinder all over again and you’ve been ghosted. Unlike online dating, however, it’s well worth your time to try to get back in touch with these prospects. 

Step 2: Find a new contact

A lot of the time, reps only lose opportunities because their contact leaves the company. That means reengaging lost opportunities can sometimes be as simple as finding a new person to contact.

This happens more than you might think. According to research by Marketing Sherpa, B2B data decays at a rate of 2.1% per month or 22.5% annually. That means even the best inside sales reps using the most effective sales cadence are going to lose a large chunk of leads to decaying data. 

The good news is that it’s well within every SDRs skillset to fix this quickly. Use your CRM or sales engagement platform to identify the accounts where you know your contact left or where your last email bounced. 

Then hit up LinkedIn. Use our prospecting tips and the best prospecting tools to identify the most appropriate contact at that company and find their direct dial, mobile number or email. All you have to do then is make the call. You can warm up these new cold leads by mentioning that you were already in talks with someone at the company. Social proof like this is a great way to separate yourself from the dozens of other cold calls your prospect gets each day. 

“a sudden change in a company’s priorities. Your prospect may have been happy with the status quo yesterday, but these new circumstances create or deepen business issues that can no longer be ignored.”

Step 3: Look for trigger events to find a reason to call

For all the other leads on your list, it can help to have a reason to get in touch. Most opportunities go cold because reps can’t find a reason to convince a prospect to book a meeting. If things haven’t changed, these leads are unlikely to change their mind. But if something comes up that changes the playing field, you might just have an in.

This is what trigger events are all about.

B2B sales expert Jill Konrath defines trigger events as “a sudden change in a company’s priorities. Your prospect may have been happy with the status quo yesterday, but these new circumstances create or deepen business issues that can no longer be ignored.”

Trigger events can be anything from a merger to downsizing to a new round of funding. They don’t have to be unique to that business, either. Changes to the economy, new legislation or global events are also trigger events — global pandemic, anyone?

Trigger events are particularly effective because they help salespeople establish urgency. A survey by Hubspot found that establishing urgency is the biggest challenge to selling successfully. In this respect, trigger events do all the hard work for you.

The trick is to track what’s happening at each of the companies on your lost opportunity list. This is easier said than done, but there are a couple of ways reps can make it easier for themselves. 

One solution is to set up Google Alerts for each of the organizations on your list. Another is to follow each company and each prospect on LinkedIn. In both cases, you’ll be one of the first to know when something changes.  

Don’t waste a minute getting in touch when you spot a trigger event. Whether the event is positive or negative, use it as an excuse to re engage your prospect and find out if things have changed. 

Step 4: Make the call

You should be calling to re-engage prospects wherever possible. Emailing them might be easier, but nothing comes close to the effectiveness of a phone call. 

Before making the call, go through your CRM and bring up your existing notes on the prospect. It’s probably been months since you last spoke to them, so it’s worth refreshing your memory. In particular, look for the reason why they didn’t convert. You can then find out if that specific factor has changed. If your notes are sparse, you’ll need to requalify the prospect on the phone and find out why they didn’t convert before.

When you do pick up the phone, make a point of “reconnecting”, says Sam Nelson, SDR Leader at Outreach. “Asking the prospect “to reconnect” is great because it reinforces that you are asking them to do something that they have already decided to do in the past. Simple, easy, effective.”

Don’t be casual in your approach, though, warns Emil Kristensen, CMO and co-founder of Sleeknote. Don’t approach them like your mate, don’t make your first touchpoint a social media message. This is your chance to make another first impression; make the most of it.

Bonus: Don’t wait for things to change

Trigger events are awesome excuses for reconnecting, but there’s no need to wait for them. For those leads that just went cold (i.e. they didn’t give you a valid reason why they don’t need your product), there’s nothing wrong with reapproaching them out of the blue. Just make sure you have something worthwhile to say.

Product upgrades or new features make for great excuses to reach out to lost opportunities. These could push the negotiation over the line. Who knows, they may be just the features that your prospect was looking for.

Independent research, whitepapers or blog posts are also great ammo, says Cirrus Insight’s Erika Desmond. “If you’ve published any original research findings, a guide to overcoming a particular problem your leads may be struggling with, or a report that might spark their interest, then send them a quick notification about it.”

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Reengaging lost opportunities can be incredibly worthwhile, but what if your sales process was set up in a way that minimised lost opportunities as much as possible?


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