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Benchmarking: A Critical Tool for Understanding the Competitive Landscape

Note: This blog was written by Brenna Foley, a research analyst at Anova, about her experience using benchmarking data to help her clients become more competitive.

Think about a sports team preparing for their season. The team spends all off-season practicing and preparing for action, but they never know how good they really are until they go up against their competition. The team needs a benchmark.

Benchmarking is also critical in the business world because it allows a company to better understand how their business compares to other providers in the market. By using industry benchmarks to see how their company ranks compared to competitors, business leaders can identify competitive advantages as well as areas for improvement and growth.

Now think about how benchmarking can impact a traditional win / loss program. In win / loss, interviews are conducted with a company’s prospects. The decision makers from the prospect give feedback and detail about what a company did right in the sales process and how that company can improve. Once multiple interviews are conducted and the results are aggregated, trends start to come out.

When doing win / loss, it is important for a company to evaluate its performance with broad context. While the data collected about the company allows the organization to understand its strengths and weaknesses within its own sphere, when industry-level data is added on top of this that sphere expands and the company can put its results into the context of the industry as a whole.

For instance, once the analysis is compared to a benchmark, the interpretation of the results begins to change. Now conclusions about what a company is doing well or not well can be verified by comparing results to how other competitors performed.

Let’s look at an example of this happening with an Anova client: a retirement services client completed a program and received relatively positive feedback on their participant website. Although some prospects considered the participant website a weakness, many more spoke positively about the ease of use and modern interface of the platform. Within the context of the program alone, it did not seem like the client needed to prioritize enhancing its participant portal.

However, when Anova’s industry benchmark was added to the analysis, the story changed. The Anova benchmark showed that mentions of the client’s participant website as a strength were 26% less than what Anova typically sees for similar clients. Although prospects noted the client’s participant website as being easy to use, there were very few mentions of the tools and functionality as a strength, especially compared to industry norms. Introducing Anova’s benchmark to the client’s findings allowed the client to understand their participant website was visually appealing, but the breadth of tools lagged compared to the competition.

This is one example of the importance of putting results into context. At Anova, our benchmarking data consists of feedback from over tens of thousands of interviews and 20 years of research with companies in financial services, technology, healthcare, and various other industries. Utilizing our benchmarking data allows us to provide our clients with a big picture view of their performance by comparing their results to what we have seen in other studies and provides a more comprehensive analysis than solely using program data.

Whether you conduct win / loss internally or partner with a third party, make sure you remember to not only look at your results in a vacuum, but also with as much context as you can.