Studying wins and losses is a valuable sales and marketing activity that is often overlooked in sales organizations. The best way to improve your win rates, up to 50% according to Gartner, is to align your strategies with your prospect’s buying process, needs, and goals. This can be done through a post-sale interview with the new client or lost prospect, often called a Win/Loss Interview, Report or Analysis.
The insights gathered from win/loss interviews can be used to determine the answers to the following very important questions every sales organization should know:
- Is your sales messaging working?
- How is your company perceived in the marketplace?
- What are your competitive differentiators, and the differentiators of your competitors?
- Are you showing value, and does it meet the needs and wants of your prospect?
- Do you understand your prospects and what is most important to them when selecting a company and/or product?
- Is your sales process working, and is it mapped to the buyer process?
In order to be effective, win/loss interviews must be treated as non-selling events, expertly mapped out prior to their occurrence, and handled with care. A win/loss interview is a favor that the prospect/client is doing for you, and showing respect of their time is of paramount importance.
Before going into interviews, you’ll need to develop an end-to-end win/loss program, following these six steps:
- Get support from the sales team and key management/executives. A good way to gain the support of the Sales team is to have an executive championing this initiative.
- Determine the type of information you want to glean from the interview, and the questions to ask to get the answers you need. The questions shouldn’t focus solely on the reason for win/loss, but also on the front-end of the sales process: why they selected your company in the first place and their experience throughout their journey with you.
- Write a call script for the interviewer to follow, with the purpose of the call, the questions to ask, and of course thanking the interviewee for their time.
- Determine who will conduct the interview, whether someone internally in a non-sales role or a third-party interviewer. The interview should never be performed with a salesperson, as then it can either turn into a selling event, or put the interviewee on guard and less likely to fully answer questions.
- Determine the interview logistics, such as how long the interview will be, where it will occur, and scheduling. Standard practice is 20-30 minutes, by phone, scheduled less than 4 weeks after the win or loss occurred.
- Follow-up with a personalized “Thank You” note to show appreciation and commitment to customer experience, regardless of if whether your company won or lost the deal.
Gathering information about wins and losses is futile if the data isn’t put to work. Once answers have been documented by the interviewer, the won/lost account and their interview responses should be reviewed by the Sales and Marketing team to determine any immediate actions that need to be taken. In addition to this meeting, a larger win/loss meeting with Sales, Marketing AND key management should occur on a monthly or quarterly basis to discuss trends that are being identified in the win/loss interviews, and changes to company strategy that is suggested as a result.
Examples of such changes as a result of win/loss analysis include:
- Tweaking the sales process to better match the buyer journey and their decision-making process, such as adding/removing steps or adjusting timeframes.
- Building prospect personas that reflect your actual buyer and map sales process and sales messaging/value propositions to their needs, for a full 360-degree of What You Sell, Who You Sell To, and How You Sell It.
- Improve existing product and service offerings, and develop new ones that meet prospect and marketplace needs and wants.
- Create content for use before and throughout the sales process, that will interest the prospect as well as reflect the perception you want the marketplace to have about your company and product.
There are clear benefits to conducting win/loss interviews and analysis, but many companies don’t practice win/loss programs, and of those who do, only one-third of them are following a process that yields data and results. Those who aren’t are essentially swimming in place, unable to get the data that really makes a difference. The tips provided in this blog are intended to provide initial guidance into building and implementing effective win/loss programs. If you need support, contact Sales Result for a 30-minute complimentary consultation.