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Welcome to Our Win Loss Focused Blog!

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.

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Four Key Components to Your Win / Loss Interview Guide

In our last blog, we covered the benefits of using a formal interview guide when conducting a win / loss interview. Now, we want to go a level a deeper and discuss what types of questions you should be writing down before-hand, so you can be the most prepared going into the interview with prospects.

Search Criteria: One of the main reasons salespeople lose deals is they do not accurately understand the unique needs of their prospects. It is important in a win / loss interview to transport the respondent back to their thought process at the beginning of their search and ask questions like “What business problems were you trying to solve with the acquisition of a new solution?” and “What were the main attributes you were looking at to differentiate amongst vendors?”

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Coming Prepared: The Benefits of Using a Formal Win / Loss Interview Guide

When delivering a sales presentation to prospects, how frequently is “winging it” the strategy you use? Probably not very often. So, if you strategize and formalize your sales presentation, shouldn’t you do the same when it comes time to understand your prospect’s decision making?

Anova’s research has uncovered that only 25% of salespeople use a formal, written-down win / loss interview guide when conducting post-decision debriefs. In other words, 75% of sales debriefs are impromptu and do not adequately allow for obtaining complete and constructive feedback. Just as you would prepare for a presentation, it is important to strategize before the debrief so you can obtain the best feedback possible to learn and benefit from.

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What? Who? Best Practices for Identifying the Best Opportunities for Win / Loss Interviews

Win / loss may seem simple: close a deal, call the buyer, find out why they selected you or a competitor. At a high level these steps may seem straightforward, but they are a lot more complicated than what meets the eye.

While debriefing with every single opportunity is a noble objective, it is unrealistic. If you have the right best practices though, you can select the right prospect organizations and the right contacts to engage with, and get on your way to developing a strong feedback mechanism. The following best practices can get you started:

At the Deal / Opportunity Level

There are a multitude of ways to segment or filter your deal-flow by in order to decide which of your prospects to call on.

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Win / Loss Analysis: Putting Yourself Ahead of the Rest

If you are in sales, you are most likely goal-oriented and performance-driven. Your ability to win business – to convert leads into closed business situations – becomes your report card. And if you are a successful salesperson (or working to become one), you most likely focus on your new situations and pipeline, constantly working the sale and finding the path to closing that piece of business.

How would you like to put yourself ahead of the rest?

Win / Loss Analysis is a game changer. No longer are you just looking at a scoreboard – how many deals did you close and how many did you loss? Win / Loss takes you beyond the score and moves into your performance, helping you learn the real reasons that drove a prospect to a certain decision.

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Pick Up that Phone: Valuing the Conversation Economy

Conversation is a primal part of being human. So why does it seem in today’s times, with more forms of communication possible than ever before, the core method of talking, using our physical voices, is being lost?

That issue was investigated in the recent Gregg Johnson article for the Harvard Business Review, “Your Customers Still Want to Talk to a Human Being”. Johnson contends that advancements in technology have helped organizations push their customers to more automated systems, and that further developments of “intelligent” technologies such as voice assistants will only increase the pressure for companies to consider shifting aspects of their customer service and sales units to machines.

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Dog Days of Summer: How to Get Ahead of Your Sales Opportunities Now

It’s August now – the dog days of summer. Don’t let your sales be beat by the heat. Even though lots of people are on vacation, the office may be quieter, and productivity slower, there is no better time than now to prep for a strong year-end push.

Between now and Labor Day, you have the opportunity to get out ahead of everyone else. Prep. Review. Learn. And come September 5th, you’ll have a clear path for what’s coming over the final four months of the year

Does your pipeline need some weeding? Most likely it does. Spend time reviewing your pipeline and really qualify your opportunities.

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Reading the Scoresheet: Best Practices for Analyzing and Using Ratings of Your Personnel

Note: This is the third perspective piece on the different ways to analyze client satisfaction data. Previous posts focused on Overall Satisfaction Ratings and At Risk Accounts.

One of the biggest drivers of satisfaction is the experience clients have with the personnel they interact with. Think about it: aggravations with products or qualms over pricing can be remedied by having someone you feel good about interacting with, someone who listens to your problems and tries to solve them. Organizations devote extensive resources to making sure the personnel that interact with their clients are professional, knowledgeable, and likeable. As such, gathering scores rating service team members is an important part of client satisfaction research.

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Taking Client Satisfaction One Step Further: Detecting At Risk Accounts

In our last post, we explored different methods to go about analyzing and understanding the overall satisfaction of your client base. But beyond this overall score, which is rating a vast number of your clients, are the sentiments of individual customers.

Would you want to know exactly which of these clients are the unhappiest and why?

Most likely, your answer to the question above is affirmative. After all, these are the clients that are most at risk for leaving you, and as Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

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Understanding Client Sat: An Analyst’s Perspective

You’ve spoken to your clients. You’ve collected hundreds or even thousands of individual data points rating the relationship between your organization and your customers. And now you are looking at a spreadsheet filled with open-ended commentary and quantitative scores rating service team members, detailing pain points, and reflecting on the overall relationship between your two organizations.

The most logical question is: What’s next?

Finding the answer to this question may seem overwhelming and you could be scratching your head wondering where to even start. It may help to begin by looking at the most fundamental questions that a client satisfaction study sets out to discover:

  • How satisfied are your clients?
  • Who isn’t satisfied and at risk of leaving you?
  • Which service team members are high performers, and who needs additional training?

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The Secret to Growth: It All Starts With the Right Mindset

Note: This blog post was originally published in June of 2016. We wanted to share it with you again since it relates to one of our favorite books and we recommend adding it to anyone’s summer reading list. Enjoy!

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.

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Back to Basics: Why Gathering Feedback Needs to Be More than Just NPS

Note: This piece is written by Zach Golden, a Consultant for Anova, about his first-hand experience in seeing the importance of giving customers a voice.

A few months ago, I was sitting in a meeting with the Head of Service for one of Anova’s clients, a large retirement services organization with thousands of clients across the country. We were discussing the current state of their customer base including satisfaction and retention.

The Executive was talking about the steps his organization was taking to determine which clients were loyal, referenceable customers, and which ones were at risk of leaving. His response was relatable to many companies. He said, “We do pulse checks of our customers multiple times throughout the year, almost whenever there is an interaction with one of our service reps. We send them an online survey to fill out asking for an NPS score, and all the answers come back with great responses. But then we lose a bunch of clients at the end of the year and our salespeople want to know why we can’t retain the customers they sold.

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Aren’t You More Than Just a Number? It’s Time to Go Deeper than NPS

Imagine this: I want to measure people’s loyalty to you. I reach out to everyone you know – friends, family, co-workers, even the barista at the coffee shop you go to each morning. I give everyone a scale, say 1 being the least loyal and 7 being the most, and ask them to rate you. I tally up the results. Your friends’ loyalty score to you is a 5.6. I walk away and all you have in your hand is a number.

Maybe you like the number, maybe not. Does it feel right? What does that number indicate?  What’s the context? How does one friend’s loyalty relate to another’s? Are they even thinking of loyalty in the same way?

Aren’t you and your relationships more than just a number?

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I’m Listening: How to Increase Revenue by Listening to Customers

It’s not a new idea, that’s for sure. Listening to customers has been and continues to be a cornerstone of organizations. Getting feedback from current customers is a constant endeavor, and in this day in age when we are hypnotized by big data, sometimes the bigger picture can be blurred. It begs the question: is there a way to increase revenue by really listening to your customers? Yes, there is.

A successful client satisfaction program isn’t just about tallying up numbers, it is about listening to and learning from your customers.

A successful client satisfaction program gives your customers the opportunity to share unbiased, unfiltered feedback.

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Hello, I’m Your Buyer: What is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is buzzing. But what exactly does sales enablement mean?

The word enable is a verb that means to give (someone or something) the authority or means to do something. Taken literally then, sales enablement means to give a salesperson or sales team the means to sell.

Yet regardless of how much content is created to support a sales process or how much product goes into a salesperson’s bag, understanding the buyer is undoubtedly a cornerstone to winning any deal. In fact, it is really the first step.

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Sales Effectiveness: Do you have any Consultants, Closers or Experts?

A recent Harvard Business Review study determined only 37% of salespeople are effective in doing the very thing are paid to do: sell. After observing 800 sales professionals in live sales settings, HBR categorized the personnel who were successful in completing a sale into three personas: Consultants, Closers, and Experts.

Consultants are salespeople adept at tailoring the presentation or sales pitch to the buyer’s needs. Closers are blessed with the gift of gab, and always have an answer for their customer’s toughest questions. The rarest type of effective sales personnel, the Expert, can make selling seem easy and consistently ranked near the top of their peer group in sales performance.

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We’ve got something for you: And it’s free!

“The best things in life are free.” Do you think this famous American proverb was talking about webinars? Surely, not, but we are!

Webinars are awesome. When done right, they are 1) free, 2) educational and 3) entertaining. What’s not to love?

Anova is kicking off a series of webinars that begins next month. We believe so much in the value of Win / Loss research that we want to educate anyone who wants to listen.

Maybe you’ve heard of Win / Loss but really have no idea what it is or how it works. Maybe you’ve been asked to look into Win / Loss or competitive intelligence research and don’t know where to start. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to implement Win / Loss internally at your organization and need a way to start that conversation in your own office. If you are nodding your head at any of these, come join us!

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After the Game: Getting Honest Feedback

Spring training is over and now it is time for the season to begin. You go into the season feeling confident that you and your team have done everything you can to be ready. But surprises always happen. You win an unexpected game and lose against the worst team in the league. You face tough opponents with varying outcomes. The big question is “why?”

This doesn’t happen just on the baseball field. It happens every day in the sales field. Salespeople hear good and bad news all the time just like sports teams win and lose all the time.

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Batter Up!: What do spring training and sales training have in common?

Spring training is a baseball tradition that goes back as far as competitive baseball. For over 140 years, major baseball teams have been migrating to warm weather states like Florida and Arizona to practice before the season starts. What’s with all the preparation?

Spring training gives baseball teams time to prepare and get ready. It allows new players to try out for positions on the team and existing players to get in shape pre-season. It gives teams time to work out the kinks and practice the numerous different situations they may encounter when the lights come on and results matter. This is their time, coaches and players alike, to get in shape and win during the upcoming baseball season.

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Looking Back: How Your Past Clients Can Help You Retain Your Existing Clients

“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.

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Closure: Giving Customers the Final Word

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.

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The Spy Who Outsold Me… How do You Get Your Competitive Intelligence?

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.”

 

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It’s Over. Life After a Client Ends the Relationship.

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.

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The Doctor is in: Time to Make an Appointment for your Annual Departed Client Check-Up

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.

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Practice? Who, me? Yes, you.

runningPractice? 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.

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Sell Me This Pen… How Sales Relates to Buying Decisions

desk-office-hero-workspaceThe 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.

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What’s in a Name: Brand’s Impact on B2B Buying Decisions

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.

brandsBrands 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?

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hand-the-hand-welcome-gesture-52716-largeWho Are You Again? The Importance of Prior Relationships in Business Decisions

Note, this is Part 3 of Anova’s 5 part series: Understanding Decisions. For an overview of the research methodology, Click Here. For Part 2: Exploring the Influence of Price, Click Here.

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.

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numbers-money-calculating-calculation-medium

You Get What You Pay For, Part Two of the Understanding Decisions Series: Exploring Price as a Reason for Choice

“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.

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Charts and analytical data on the tablet screen with a cup of coffee and a telephone in the background

Exploring the Reasons for Choosing New Vendors

“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.

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

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.

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pen-idea-bulb-paperThe Secret to Growth: It All Starts With the Right Mindset

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.

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talkingThe Art of Conversation

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.

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G2Gbuilding

Good Companies Often Hide From the Truth, Great Companies Look For It

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.

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ChallengeFunnelWhy Win / Loss? Because even SalesForce knows it’s not easy

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.”

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Win Loss Book

We wrote the book on Win Loss Analysis

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Insights held by prospects and clients only have value if you know how to access and use them.