Here at Anova, we pride ourselves in our Win Loss Analysis work helping companies understand why they are winning and losing business and how they can be more competitive in their respective marketplaces. Although our time is mostly spent working closely with our clients and focused on our research, we also have a lot of interesting thoughts that we would love to share with the rest of the world. Hence the birth of this blog.
“If I only knew then what I know now.” Have you ever thought that? Most likely your answer is yes. We all have. This common phrase is usually used when talking about life lessons such as relationships, opportunities, and decisions. But it also applies to business, an experience that is full of life lessons – yes – relationships, opportunities, and decisions.
Consider your clients, both past and present. Could you learn from your past clients that have left you for a competitor? What if you knew that 1 out of every 4 departed clients had no intention of leaving your organization at the onset of looking at another provider? In truth, not all departed clients were looking to leave.
Note: This piece is written by Lisa Hession-Kunz, Executive Interviewer at Anova. Having performed hundreds of client debriefs, Lisa shares her perspective of a Departed Client program and the impact that such research delivers to organizations and to the departed clients.
A client has just dumped you. They left you for another business provider who promised better service, more functionality, or cost savings.
Maybe they left due to forces beyond their control. Maybe this was a result of an acquisition or merger, or a new directive based on a personal relationship, and there was nothing you could have done.
Everyone loves a good spy story. But unless you’re at the movies or picking up a book, it’s hard to transport yourself into the world of espionage. That was, until competitive intelligence became a key component in the realm of business.
Some corporations go to great lengths to obtain competitive intelligence about rival firms. In a recent article on CNBC, Eamon Javers detailed some practices which he coined “corporate espionage.”
William Shakespeare said it best over 400 years ago when he wrote one of the most iconic lines from Romeo and Juliet: “Parting is such sweet sorrow…”
Ending a relationship hurts. Shakespeare, no doubt, was not thinking about a business relationship when he penned one of the world’s most revered pieces of literature.
And yet, he certainly succeeded in capturing a shared sentiment when someone departs a relationship, especially a business one.
The calendar has been flipped and the New Year has been rung in. Organizations are compiling year-end results and communicating what new business has been sold. New client logos are exciting to share with your team, and business hums as new accounts turn into uncharted, prosperous relationships. The possibilities of a new relationship are down-right thrilling!
But then there’s also the bad news. By now organizations are also learning about clients that have departed. Service heads and business leaders are feeling the pain from taking down client logos and facing lost re-occurring revenue.
Wondering what you can do to turn that hurt into a healthy revitalizer for your organization? The answer is Departed Client research and analysis.
Practice? You can probably think of dozens of reasons why not to practice.
It takes too much time.
Practice is boring and is a drain.
You don’t need it. You’ve been selling to prospects and clients forever…
Even as kids growing up, practice seemed like a pain. After all, did any of us want to practice the piano or multiplication tables? As we mature to adults, the reasons to not practice evolve from reasons to excuses, and from excuses to barriers to success.
Practice matters. It makes us better. Just listen to a couple of world renowned athletes like Pele and Michael Jordan.
The past four blogs have discussed the different reasons decision makers choose to buy products and services, and just one final area remains to be analyzed as part of this series. On the surface it seems obvious: the ability of the salesperson to convince the buyer to actually buy their product.
First, it is important to define sales effort. In a typical win / loss program, feedback is garnered across a number of sales attributes such as the salesperson’s responsiveness and rapport building with the prospect, their ability to conduct needs analysis and customize the presentation to the prospect’s unique needs, and ultimately make the prospect feel like an important client.
Note, this is Part 4 of Anova’s 5 part series: Understanding Decisions. For an overview of the research methodology, Click Here. Be sure to come back at the end of the month for the last post examining sales effort.
Brands are everywhere around us. In markets driven by consumers, a brand can be a powerful differentiator and the reason someone might choose to drink Coke instead of Pepsi, or drive a BMW instead of a Mercedes. In the B2B world however, the importance of brand can be less clear.
Does a decision-maker weigh the impact of brand equity when signing off on a premium product over a less-expensive option? Will the owner of a small business factor in the notoriety of using the software from a prominent technology vendor instead of a less-known start-up which offers a more advanced user interface?
Trust. It’s the backbone of friendships and relationships, but not all business partnerships. In fact, Anova found that the trust built from a positive past experience can be influential in many Mature market sales situations, but did not play a role in decisions within Growth markets. Ultimately, a fundamental distinction in how each of these markets are constructed leads to this difference.
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Said by famed investor Warren Buffet, this quote draws distinctions between different components of cost. But how does this expression from one of the world’s wealthiest men play out when considering buying decisions made at the conclusion of a traditional B2B sales process?
Anova’s research reinforces Buffet’s assertion. Ultimately, price dominates decisions in Mature markets twice as frequently as decisions in Growth markets. In our research over the past year, cost was mentioned as a reason for choosing a provider 59% of the time in Mature markets, and 29% for clients in Growth markets. You can Click Here to read more on the basis for our research.
“How did we lose that deal?!” or “Why did our competitor win over us?” are common questions asked by sales leaders to their sales reps. They are fair questions, and questions that business leaders need the absolute truth to in order win the next deal.
When a salesperson asks the decision maker reasons why he lost (or won) the deal, the truth is most likely disguised or simply not shared. In fact, salespeople only know the exact truth as to why a decision was made 40% of the time. When Anova conducts win / loss interviews as a third party researcher, we make it a point to ask, “What were the top three reasons for your decision to choose the winning provider?” With this, Anova uncovers the unvarnished truth.
How 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.
Which company has the better outlook: one whose leaders think they already know everything about their business, competitors and marketplace, or one with a culture rooted in constant learning and improvement? While it’s possible the former may be able to achieve some success, Anova believes the answer for achieving long-term, sustainable growth is with actions and strategies attained from consistently-sought after feedback. In order for a company to embrace the challenges that come with accepting it still has room to grow, it has to have the right mindset.
We live in a world consumed by data and analytics. Technology has allowed us to track and measure just about every activity in our lives, both personal and professional. We have the opportunity to gather data and use it to understand our decisions, efforts, and subsequent outcomes. But does it always have to come down to a cold, hard number? What about the experience behind the numbers?
Enter the art of conversation. Through one-on-one interviewing, research opens up and goes beyond the numbers and metrics. In-depth interviewing allows the experience to truly be heard… it tells the story behind the metrics.
The truth hurts. However, most people would agree that in order to get better at something, you must fully understand where and what you need to improve on… otherwise known as the brutal facts.
It’s not just anecdotally. In his National bestselling management book Good to Great, Jim Collins dedicates an entire chapter to “confronting the brutal facts”. Collins substantiates that in order for companies to become great, they must be willing to learn the truth about what they are doing well, and more importantly, what they could be doing better. In fact, it is only after companies do this that they are able to hit an inflection point and begin the breakthrough process towards greatness.
SalesForce knows a thing or two about selling B2B. So when Marc Benioff, CEO of SalesForce, talks about the challenges facing enterprise sales, we tend to listen. Here’s what Benioff said in the latest annual report for SFDC about the headwinds facing his own company:
“As more of our sales efforts are targeted at larger enterprise customers, our sales cycle may become more time-consuming and expensive, we may encounter pricing pressure and implementation and customization challenges, and we may have to delay revenue recognition for some complex transactions, all of which could harm our business and operating results.”