The process of directly gathering information on your company’s sales efforts by reaching out to former clients and prospects yourself can be challenging because data shows that they only will tell you the truth about 40 percent of the time. The reasons for this lack of candor can vary, but it usually comes down to conflict avoidance and basic desire to avoid hurting another’s feelings.
In many cases, because of their lack of focus and experience, companies that conduct their own win loss analysis also fail to ask the right questions and in the right ways. Being “too close” to the situation can lead to subtle breakdowns in communication, which often interferes with the ability to glean the types of information and insight that an organization most wants and needs.
In addition, internally-managed win loss programs, especially those implemented by sales teams themselves, are far less effective than those managed externally because prospects often see the process as being less than objective. Experience has shown that former prospects tend to offer more and better input and feedback when they are approached and interviewed by individuals who were not directly involved in a company’s sales efforts. This is because respondents are generally more comfortable providing frank assessments to individuals who are perceived as being objective and independent.
Another impediment to implementing a successful win loss sales analysis program is internal opposition to the sharing and understanding of its results. Among other things, this can take the form of obstructing access to survey results or “white washing” them. For instance, a sales team may withhold certain sales activities or prospects from the process to hide embarrassing failures – the company’s marketing and product development teams may not be given access to the survey results – self-serving interpretative analyses of the results that refute their validity are produced and promoted – or, the program is not given adequate emphasis or visibility at senior levels of the organization. Achieving cross-functional buy-in and executive support on the front end of the implementation of a win loss analysis program is essential to maximizing its benefits because they ensure that the feedback can be used to trigger necessary adjustments across the organization.
Though many firms conduct post-sales debriefs in one form or another, the most successful and actionable win loss projects make use of specialized independent research firms, like Anova Consulting Group, that have the necessary experience and expertise.