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win loss analysis

Your win/rate is an excellent metric. Conduct win/loss analysis to improve it.

Win/loss analysis is something any company can do to bolster revenue efforts. When done properly win/loss analysis provides clarity and insights into customers’ perceptions of your product, experience throughout the sales cycle, and expectations created by your company messaging. Institutionalizing win/loss analysis will create requirements to product development, feedback about messaging to marketing, and may help uncover new sales strategies and initiatives. For win/loss analysis to be beneficial it needs to be done in a timely fashion with accuracy and objectivity. Hopefully you are regularly conducting win/loss analysis.

Once you complete the analysis, the next step is what to do with your findings. Many companies focus on the information related to the “loss” side of the equation.  Investing tremendous energy in trying to find ways to “fix” it.  For example, analyzing the “loss” side of the equation might lead you to modify your pricing model.  But obviously the current pricing model is working if you are winning deals with it as well.  Fixing the loss side of the equation takes time during which the sales cycle expands and becomes more unpredictable.

6 Tips for Conducting Successful Win/Loss Analysis

Post-decision interviews with prospects should be a standard operating procedure for every Sales and Marketing organization. This work can be done by Marketing or an external third party. We strongly suggest these interviews NOT be conducted by the Sales team.

When done well, the results of these interviews provide insights needed to improve performance and develop competitive differentiation.  Start with these 6 tips as you focus on your win/loss analysis.

  1. Interview an equal number of wins and losses each time. Too many interviews of one over the other will skew your results. Often it is easier to secure interviews with prospects you won rather than those you lost. But information from the lost interviews is too important to ignore.
  2. Conduct interviews within three months of the final decision. People’s memories fade with time. The closer to the decision the interview is conducted the better. The more complex the sales cycle solution is the quicker a post-decision interview needs to be scheduled because people retain less than 10% of what they have been exposed to.
  3. Ensure a non-sales environment.  An organization increases its probability of success if a separate department not staffed with sales-related individuals conducts the post-decision interviews.  Sales people are trained to sell. National statistics reveal that 50% of sales projections don’t close as forecasted, so the reason for this desperate effort is more likely that the sales representative projected a wishful closure that wasn’t in tune with the prospect. Sales people may see a post-decision interview as an opportunity to try and win. If a non-sales environment can’t be achieved, outsource to an unbiased outside party.
  4. Develop an actionable interview guide. The purpose of the interview is to gain insights that will help you make decisions. If the questions don’t derive this kind of input than you have wasted an opportunity. Be sure the results from the interviews will enable to either validate or change something.
  5. Use trained interviewers. Interviewing is a skill. Select interviewers who understand your business and sales process.
  6. Share results quarterly. A one-time analysis may be interesting but won’t provide the trends you need.† The post-decision interview should become a part of your ongoing process and results from interviews should be reported on a regular basis.

Why It’s Important to Focus on the Win

It is just as important, maybe more important to understand why you win because one is not necessarily the reverse of the other. By understanding what deals you win and why, you can chart a course that will allow you to identify, capitalize and replicate your successes. In addition to giving you something to model, analyzing the “win” side of the equation might actually enable you to identify market niches and personas you might not have initially recognized or targeted. It also helps you determine which value propositions resonate with which personas and markets.

Many organizations use the loss analysis to shed light on how the competition is “beating” them and understand their weaknesses.  However, the win side actually provides intelligence into how you are “beating” the competition.  Customers you won had the opportunity to select an alternative, but they chose your company and your product.  Understanding the major factors, such as sales process, messaging, product differentiation, price, etc. that influenced their decision provides insights into your strengths and your competitors’ weaknesses.

Obviously you cannot focus solely on the win side of the equation any more than focusing on the loss side.  It’s essential to ask the questions, “Why are we losing,” AND “Why are we winning? Then use the information from both wins and losses to create a balanced, complete and accurate picture.  The point is to use the insights from both sides of equation to understand what actions are needed to develop a repeatable process that produces more wins.

Learn more about Pipeline Opportunity Movement with this free white paper, Don’t Waste Your Bullets: Customer Engagement To Accelerate Revenue And Improve Alignment.

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