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360° Feedback: How Win / Loss Can Help Benefit All Areas of an Organization

Companies often reach out to Anova for guidance on starting a formal win / loss program at their organization. One of the most important things to remember for a company starting win / loss for the first time is to not rush the kickoff of a program.

An airline pilot follows a thorough checklist of necessary steps and makes sure all the instruments on their dashboard are working before taking off. Similarly, it is imperative to not skip steps during the launch of a win / loss program. Once the program is “in the air”, it can be difficult to turn around and go back to do those early actions that lead to program success.

One of the biggest steps in launching a successful win / loss program is getting buy-in throughout the organization. Though the program often is run by product marketing or sales enablement, win / loss is a tool that can be used throughout an organization: both horizontally across departments and vertically by different levels of the business. To unlock the most value from win / loss, organizations should ensure all of these different areas have access to the feedback.

Cross-Departmental Value

Sales: While almost all departments can benefit from win / loss feedback, sales has the most opportunity to act on the feedback. It takes a considerable amount of time for marketing to begin to change the perceptions of their brand or for product to develop enhancements to the solution, but a salesperson can receive feedback they need to be more clear in their presentations and begin acting on it immediately. Additionally, salespeople are the ultimate stewards for an organization. A prospect’s perception of how a solution compares to the competition or whether something is expensive or not is often a biproduct of how the salesperson differentiated and articulated the solution’s value. Said another way, even product and pricing feedback is often feedback about the sales performance.

  • Getting sales buy-in: There is not a single department that gets more value out of a win / loss program than the sales team. More specifically, there is not a single person who gets more value than the Head of Sales or CRO. Yet so many companies try to circumnavigate sales and don’t involve the Head of Sales when starting a program. Oftentimes people see sales as a roadblock and think “we can just pull the deals from the CRM and collect the data ourselves”. While this is operationally true in many cases, it is certainly far from a best practice. In order to collect feedback that is relevant and actionable it often requires the sales reps to vet the data to make sure the selected deals are the most salient in terms of their feedback potential and the selected contact is the right individual to speak to.

Marketing: Win / loss enables marketers to gather feedback on their company’s brand awareness, reputation, and effectiveness of marketing collateral. Additionally, like sales, there is crossover to other areas that marketers should pay attention to as well. At Anova we hear all the time in interviews that our client is missing a particular tool from its platform, but in reality that functionality actually does exist. While on paper missing functionality sounds like a product issue, it is really an opportunity for the product marketing team to create messaging and content around that tool to increase awareness.

Product: Of course, sometimes product gaps do exist. The feedback from win / loss interviews is central to product managers because the information will highlight the solution’s strengths and weaknesses. This data can be used to fine-tune a company’s roadmap or product enhancement plans.

Pricing: A company’s price is much more complex than just a number on a proposal. There are list prices and discounting practices, structures and models that explain different components and add-on fees, comparisons between competitive price points, and of course the overall ROI an organization expects to achieve. As such, pricing feedback generally falls into three categories: price point, pricing transparency, and overall value. Win / loss can help identify potential issues in any of these areas, as well as help an organization gain a greater understanding of how competitors are pricing their solutions.

Competitive Intelligence: Win / loss is not just an introspective exercise. It is a critical competitive intelligence tool that allows CI professionals to benchmark themselves against their rivals and gain a competitive edge.

 

Value Up and Down the Org Chart

Senior Management: Leadership can utilize the feedback from win / loss to facilitate clearer decision making and de-risk investments. The Voice of the Prospect data from a win / loss program is captured via an independent, third-party source by interviewers who are highly skilled and experienced. This allows senior leaders to trust the data is without bias and can feel confident in using it to fuel their decision-making, particularly regarding prioritizing areas of investment.

Team Leaders: Managers need to have a pulse on how their teams are performing, and they can’t be in the room with their employees for every meeting or to help with every decision. The feedback in an individual transcript, particularly for sales managers, can be used as a training and coaching tool to help reflect on what happened in an individual situation and how to either replicate or improve that salesperson’s performance on the next deal.

Individual Contributor: Much like having a personal trainer for achieving fitness goals, win / loss can be a career trainer for sales reps who are reviewing the feedback from an interview and using it to hone their skills and sharpen their saw. Others throughout an organization, from product marketers to customer support reps, also benefit from getting a more thorough understanding of how the marketplace is perceiving their company.

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In addition to asking about how to effectively start a win / loss program, companies often ask Anova “how do we get the most value out of a program?”. That answer starts with making sure there is broad, cross-departmental exposure to the feedback. The programs that deliver the most value are ones that facilitate strong internal alignment on how a company can compete more effectively. To achieve that internal alignment, all parties must be represented. Anything less just limits the potential learning a program can provide.