All win/loss programs collect data.
That data can come in many different forms: internal CRM codes, feedback from internal interviews, results from web surveys, or, when done correctly, in-depth interviews with independent third-party consultants.
The latter, interviews conducted by third-party consultants, are an effective approach for collecting win/loss data, because the data is gathered by experienced interviewers and includes both qualitative and quantitative feedback about a company’s sales effectiveness, product/service offering, pricing, and overall competitiveness in the marketplace.
Regardless of the source used to collect the information, it is still just data. The true value of a win/loss program comes from unfolding the narrative behind that data.
To accomplish this task, there first needs to be an in-depth analysis. Strategies like analyzing the information, segmenting the findings or results and benchmarking against relevant competitors and industry peers all help identify important themes and accentuate valuable findings.
While completing the analysis is an important exercise, the overarching story that results from that analysis is what will ultimately drive change and help companies win more business.
Conducting In-Depth Analysis
Executing a detailed and comprehensive data analysis is a critical step in any win/loss program that enables change and the ability to win new business. There are many strategies used to complete this work.
Generally, half of the information included in a win/loss program interview transcript is already quantitative. Prospects rate their satisfaction in several key areas (e.g., ranking overall platform, ease of integration, pricing competitiveness, etc.). However, the other half is qualitative, answering broader questions about matters like the prospects’ initial search criteria or weaknesses they identified throughout the sales process.
The first step in any win/loss analysis is taking the qualitative feedback presented in the data and grouping like comments together, identifying common themes and classifying each comment into a specific category.
This process is often called “rolling up data.”
The act of “rolling up data” helps emphasize the relative frequencies of certain themes in prospects’ feedback and is fundamental in uncovering the story that will eventually drive change.
Another key strategy used to analyze win/loss data is segmentation: cutting data by specific demographics or categories. Win/loss data can be segmented in many ways (by product, revenue, country, etc.).
For example, if a company sells two main products to prospective buyers, then the prevalence of specific feedback should be evaluated separately for each product line. The results will likely depict an inaccurate story if the data for both products are analyzed together. The company may be doing something well for one product and poorly for the other, but those differences would get lost within aggregate findings.
Segmentation leads to a more holistic view of the data and ultimately helps generate more specific actionable insights.
Benchmarking is yet another strategy used to help inform insights and action items for win/loss users. This work allows a company to understand better how its business compares to other leaders in the market. In some cases, benchmarking can completely alter the interpretation of results.
For example, a company’s price structure may be a major weakness at first glance. However, when compared to the benchmark, the frequency price structure mentioned could be significantly lower than the industry average, suggesting the company will win more business by focusing its efforts elsewhere.
Whether those comparisons are to companies in similar industries of similar size/maturity, or those with similar deal sizes, a strong benchmark gives more context and creates more opportunities for improvement.
In win/loss interviews, prospects are not only asked to provide feedback for the company of interest but also for who they perceive to be the leader in the market.
This helps accomplish two things:
- Identifying the main competitors
- Measuring how they are scoring in key areas against those competitors
This feedback is used to create comparisons, highlighting exactly what the company is doing better than its competitors and what it is doing worse. Competitive intelligence offers a company additional analytical context and contributes to its overarching story.
Segmentation, benchmarking, and competitive intelligence are all integral components of conducting in-depth analysis. However, the in-depth analysis will not drive change on its own.
Establish a Story
The analytical strategies discussed in the previous section do not unlock a win/loss program’s full value if a company does not understand the results deeply.
An in-depth analysis must make sense to guarantee successful actionable insights and recommendations. The goal is to put the results into perspective and consolidate the feedback into one cohesive story that will ultimately help drive change and win business.
It’s an advantage to work with experienced storytellers.
Experience conducting and analyzing win/loss interviews is extremely valuable. Having done this analysis for several companies and across various verticals and industries, win/loss consultants can interpret the data uniquely.
Win/loss consultants connect the different feedback areas, helping to uncover a more cohesive and complete story that generates meaningful changes for a company.
Incorporate actionable insights into the narrative.
The most valuable deliverables in a win/loss program are the actionable insights presented at the end of a report. These insights embody all the work conducted throughout a program, synthesizing the findings into real steps companies can take to win more business.
Here’s a quick example illustrating the power of telling stories with win/loss data.
At Anova, we work with many B2B enterprise technology companies. In one of those client programs, the initial data emphasized that the company’s sales team was a key strength. Just taken at face value, for example, if this finding were just read off a dashboard, it would seem to indicate that the team had no clear areas for improvement. But that wasn’t the deeper narrative we uncovered.
Looking at the feedback more closely, we realized that interviewees mainly praised the sales team for responding to questions quickly. Responsiveness is a good attribute to have; however, if prospects only note about a sales team that they respond quickly, that doesn’t indicate a technically skilled team in areas such as presentation skills, differentiation, and solving customer problems. Based on our findings, the client’s head of sales realized more training in advanced sales skills was necessary for helping her team grow.
One-off feedback from prospects isn’t effective long-term. To create change and ultimately win more business, an ongoing program that regularly informs sales teams, product teams and executive leadership exactly why it’s winning or losing business—and more importantly, how to improve, must be established. The win / loss data from these programs on its own is valuable, but consistently going beyond that data is what will put your company ahead of the competition.
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