Win loss analysis is a forensic market research exercise that focuses on de-constructing how companies market and sell their products and services from the prospect’s perspective. The process typically entails conducting extensive telephone interviews with new clients or lost prospects. The goal is to glean as much useful and actionable information as possible, to synthesize it quickly and accurately, and to use it to facilitate continuous improvement across the organization.
During the last 15 years, more and more companies that operate in sophisticated business to business market sectors have been initiating Win / Loss sales analysis programs, either by conducting post-sales debriefs internally or by engaging outside market research firms like Anova Consulting Group. Nevertheless, Win / Loss analysis is a highly specialized brand of market research and fewer than 20 percent of all companies have implemented formal programs.
A Win / Loss sales research and analysis program can help your company understand the perspectives and selection criteria of your prospects. It also can help you understand how your sales approach and techniques were received and perceived, both in an absolute sense and compared to the efforts of your competitors. This is particularly important in markets where sales cycles are long and complex and where purchase decisions are often driven by subjective criteria that transcend pricing considerations.
A win-loss project also can be used to re-engineer your product development, sales support and sales training functions. For instance, Win / Loss analysis survey results and individual interview transcripts can be used as strategic tools to evaluate your products and services and to identify features that are of increasing importance to your prospective clients. They can be used to identify the key messages that resonate with prospects and that frame your value proposition most competitively. Finally, Win / Loss sales analysis results, including raw interview transcripts, can be employed to identify common mistakes your company makes in sales situations and to provide guidance on how to avoid them. In short, the independent and objective strategic intelligence you can derive from a well-designed Win / Loss sales program administered by Anova Consulting Group can be used to guide your future sales efforts, your product and service enhancements and how you implement new marketing, pricing and technology.
Win loss research involves the collection of data from new business sales situations, analysis of the data and presentation of the results. While Anova provides customized Win / Loss analysis specific to individual client data, Anova is also able to provide relative context from a wider research perspective having collected, analyzed and presented findings from over ten thousand Win / Loss situations studied across a variety of industries.
Although some organizations manage their Win / Loss research program efforts internally, such programs are more effective when they are externally administered by a specialized research firm which employs market research professionals with finely honed interviewing skills. Win loss programs are most effective when the reviews are conducted using proven research tools that incorporate the right questions, asked in the right manner by the right people.
Win loss reviews are an exercise whereby organizations gather feedback on their sales process and sales team efforts, typically by interviewing new clients and/or prospects after the buying decision has been made, regardless of whether the deal was won or lost. The primary purpose of a Win / Loss review is to serve as a learning tool – one that is focused on driving continuous improvement.
A Win / Loss review can help your company understand the perspectives and selection criteria of your prospects. It also can help you understand how your sales approach and techniques were received and perceived, both in an absolute sense and compared to the efforts of your competitors. This is particularly important in markets where sales cycles are long and complex and where purchase decisions are often driven by subjective criteria that transcend pricing considerations.
When designed correctly, the Win / Loss review process can provide you with the candid feedback you need to make competitive adjustments to your products, sales approach, marketing strategy and ongoing client servicing efforts.
While individual Win / Loss interviews (or debriefs) provide valuable insight into what went well or not so well in specific sales situations, a successful Win / Loss program goes a step further by providing aggregate reporting on key trends. While an individual transcript can help a salesperson understand why he or she won or lost a specific opportunity, win / loss reporting can help sales organizations better understand why they are winning or losing across all opportunities so they can make better decisions, improve sales success and increase win rates.
Win loss programs that combine individual opportunity feedback with periodic aggregate reporting result in higher sales success than programs that solely deliver situational feedback.
Before conducting a Win / Loss debrief, it is important to develop an interview guide or list of questions, often referred to as a Win / Loss template, to help guide the conversation and ensure the interview addresses the most important issues and topics you wants to learn about. Having a Win / Loss template available will help ensure that every Win / Loss review garners the most useful, detailed and actionable feedback possible.
The most valuable Win / Loss templates include both open-ended questions (i.e., questions requiring more than a yes/no answer) and a subset of quantitative ranking questions. It is generally best to start with questions that are relatively easy for the respondent to answer, and address more difficult and potentially sensitive questions after developing a bit of rapport with the respondent. The guide should also be designed to not only uncover why a company won or lost business in a particular sales situation, but also to shed light on the competitive dynamics that defined the sales process.
The length of the Win / Loss template will vary based on the complexity of the sales process but on average, Anova designs Win / Loss templates that support a 20-25 minute conversation.
Common questions include: