Every company should have a “Director of Lost Sales”

Are you aware of how many customers enter your stores and leave empty-handed? Do you know the number of buyers that call your salespeople and hang up without placing an order? The answer is probably “no,” because you’re not paying attention to lost sales —— only low sales. 

We have access to a great number of spread sheet reports. Too many to be exact. Some reports are duplicates of other reports. There are even reports about reports. We are overwhelmed with every report on the planet except one —— there is no  “lost sales report.”  The lost sales report could identify where and why sales failed to occur.

“What happened?”

There is a well-known question often raised in meetings throughout the food industry. The exact words are, “What happened to the sales last week?
That challenging phrase by upper management to staff members in a meeting room full of sophisticated charts and zigzag graphs can start a flurry of excitement and panic. Everyone immediately relies on a long list of excuses that include; inclement weather, trucking problems, labor shortages, or other excuses. Let’s face it, nobody is ever going to say, “We did a lousy selling job.”
Sales meetings can sometimes be unfriendly and unproductive. Many start out with a frowning boss entering the room, slamming a copy of the sales report on the table, spilling coffee, and angrily uttering, “Our sales are terrible! Why? What happened?” 
Shouldn’t the real question be, “What didn’t happen?”
Trying to explain away reasons for sluggish sales results after the fact will not cure the problem. No matter what cover-up stories are rendered, they are only temporary deceptions until the next sales blowout occurs.
Picture this —— You are the VP of Sales for a major company. You arrive at your office on a Monday morning and immediately start reviewing the sales report from the previous week. Your prime interest is whether the sales budget was attained. However, lackluster sales failed to meet forecasts and are of the utmost concern. After all, owning the title VP of Sales has a fundamental responsibility – “to achieve the sales budget.”   
I am often amazed at how people are satisfied with just reaching a budget number. They don’t ever seem to have an interest in going beyond a specific goal. But if sales targets are not obtained, then everyone scampers in different directions trying to duck for cover and avoid explaining their role in the crisis.
Rather than deal with wasting a lot of valuable time by always trying to explain away missed sales, it would be easier to just let a Director of Lost Sales take full charge of selling. This person could recognize, surround, and capture sales before they manage to slip away.
There is a mile-long list of other sectors that could be prevented from becoming lost sales —— out-of-stocked displays, sales reps neglecting to upsell to buyers, buyers failing to inquire about special item deals, inadequate labor scheduling, etc. Many exist right before our very noses. Those oversights do not show up on any data report.
To succeed in today’s fierce battle to capture sales, companies need to recognize areas other than the conventional for deficient results. Rather than trying to constantly solve customary problems after the fact, focus should be placed on the elementary factors to stop losing sales. It has to be accomplished by “prevention.”
Be one step ahead of the game. Keep lost sales from happening in the first place.
Every company needs a good no-nonsense Director of Lost Sales who can spot the cracks in the system and do something about it before all the dollars slip out. Until this worthwhile position is filled, company executives will continue to ask, “What happened to the sales?”

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Ron Pelger

Ron Pelger

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