Getting feedback from lost sales


Short of begging, what is an effective way(s) to get feedback from a lost sale? I'm thinking survey, but is there a more practical way?


asked Jan 8 '10 at 17:22
346 points
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4 Answers


There's a very nice blog post about getting feedback from lost sales by Jason. In general, it always boils down to these three steps:

  1. Get a contact info as soon as you can. Email is often the most convinient.
  2. Offer some king of reward for participation. I especially like Jason's Wikipedia support idea.
  3. Collect feedback. For in-depth, explorative studies, an unstructured interview is best (but you typically need to do that by telephone or person). If you have some kind of idea about potential problems and just need a hint about the relative importance, a structured interview (a survey) is usually the way to go.

There have been discussion in the Open Source community about collecting feedback more effectively (IdeaStorm, Voting in the issue tracker), but you usually just reach your hardcore customers with these.

Hope this helps.

answered Jan 8 '10 at 23:53
Claus Schwarm
1,599 points
  • +1 for Jason's blog post. He has a number of well though out suggestions, including a suggestion that's been really useful for our software company. – Keith De Long 13 years ago
  • Jasons blog post is spot on. Thanks! – Sparagi 13 years ago


The most effective way is to just ask your lost customer, preferably in person or over the phone, why they are leaving or not buying. Have a script memorized that leads them down the path of the real reason they did not purchase. This can sometimes be an emotional ordeal, so keep your feelings in check and just ask for data. Don't try and convince them they are wrong. Rather just listen to their reasoning. By just listening and gathering data, you will learn a vast amount from a lost customer that is willing to talk.

If you have a purely on-line business, then an exit dialog might get you some feedback but those are not as effective.

answered Jan 8 '10 at 23:45
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points


Many applications open the users browser and direct them to a page which has a very small survey when they perform an uninstall. Many setup/packaging tools provide this option for your applications uninstall. The survey basically asks them why they did not like the software. Keep it very small, or you'll get few responses. If you're not good with online forms, there's many free tools to help you create them.

answered Jan 8 '10 at 22:20
216 points
  • We are a SaaS, so they never get to the install point. Good advice for an downloaded product. – Sparagi 13 years ago


Lost sales (I assume your talking about existing customers who cancel their account), are doing one thing: leaving you. Just offer them a basic textbox to leave their thoughts if they want to, but don't get your hopes up. I can't think of any incentive you can give them (discounts on the competitive product they're switching to? :P)

Better start asking your existing customers what features or improvements would make your product better, and what their biggest incentive would be to switch to a competitor.

answered Jan 8 '10 at 22:13
Jakob Buis
39 points
  • Thanks, but I meant new customers or leads. – Sparagi 13 years ago

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