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Can Steph Curry Help Your Company Win More Business? The Importance of Win / Loss Analysis

basketballHow much is one sales meeting worth to your business? This past weekend, the NBA’s Golden State Warriors successfully pitched superstar Kevin Durant to join their already-impressive roster led by reigning two-time MVP Steph Curry. Having both players is a huge advantage for Golden State, but the two could have also been part of another team: the list of athletes sponsored by Nike. Instead, Curry’s rise to fame has been all while donning the Under Armour logo on his shoes and clothes, leaving Nike officials to ponder how he got away.  Curry’s story parallels much of what Anova finds in our past decade of B2B win / loss analysis. The lesson learned: Implementing a win / loss program to conduct post-sale debriefs leads companies to be better positioned to improve future sales performance.

In a recent ESPN article, reporter Ethan Strauss unveiled details of the courtship for the reigning 2-time NBA MVP Curry by top sponsors Nike and Under Armour. Readers learned the cringe-worthy story of how one of the most iconic sports brands in the world lost an athlete worth an estimated $14 billion to one of their top competitors. However, readers may not have fully realized the similarities between Nike’s mistakes and the ones that occur in their own companies’ sales situations. Through the hundreds of win loss interviews Anova conducts each month, trends of similar sales miscues emerge across all industries and deal sizes. Some mistakes are more prevalent than others, but all are avoidable. Let’s take a closer look at how Nike made several common sales mistakes and turned off one of their most promising young stars:

In 2013, Nike met with Curry, a current client at the time, in order to sign him to a contract extension. There was no reason why they shouldn’t have been able to; Curry had been wearing the iconic swoosh on his sneakers his entire life and on top of that, Curry’s godfather was an employee of the Oregon-based company. Still, Nike faltered when it was time to meet with Curry. Instead of bringing their top brass, Nike chose to not include one of their chief athlete advisors who had worked with other basketball stars such as LeBron James. The lack of executive attendees signaled to Curry that Nike did not feel he was important enough to warrant the heightened attention.

Anova has learned by conducting thousands of win / loss interviews that making a prospect feel valued is one of the most important drivers of a winning sales process. In the Curry situation, Nike started off on the wrong foot by not having the right personnel at the sales presentation and compounded the issue by not customizing the pitch properly. Included within Nike’s PowerPoint was a slide with Kevin Durant’s name instead of Curry’s, a sloppy error suggesting the presentation was merely reprocessed material used for another Nike athlete. Adding insult to injury, one Nike official was said to have mispronounced Stephen’s name. Between the recycled PowerPoint and calling Curry by the wrong name, Nike failed to make their client feel valued.

The inability to make a prospect feel important is consistently one of the top sales weaknesses cited by respondents in win / loss surveys. In this case, it cost Nike considerably. A failure to understand and address fundamental sales issues can be the difference between winning and losing a key deal, yet it still amazes heads of sales that these mistakes are occurring within their sales teams. In 2015 alone, Anova identified ineffective sales performance as a reason for losing bids in almost 50% of situations!

The real question is: How much is it costing your organization to make the same mistakes as Nike?

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