In part 2 of the win/loss interview series, we explored how to get the right data to help increase your rate of sales closure by planning and executing an effective win/loss interview. In this third and final part of our three-part series, we explore how to summarize, share, and implement the findings of an effective win/loss program. Let’s get started.
In the previous part of this series, we covered in detail how to conduct a successful win/loss interview and gather the right data for the program. In this final part of the win/loss analysis series, we discuss how to apply the findings of a win/loss program for the best outcomes.
Summarize Your Data
Once you have collected your data – including conducting interviews with prospects and customers, compiling sales executives’ notes on competitive opportunities, etc. – it is time to summarize and analyze your findings.
To begin with, it may be helpful to answer some high-level questions. Start by perhaps calculating your overall win rate, win/loss ratio, and maybe even your competitive win rate (the rate at which you win deals over one or more competitors). These high-level metrics help you effectively set the context for subsequent findings that will emerge. For example, an initially calculated overall competitive win rate of 35%, followed by a win rate of 45% against a specific competitor would quickly tell you that your sales team performs particularly well against that competitor.
Once you have the high-level picture, you can slice and dice the data against any number of variables that are significant for your business to summarize your findings. The variables that you consider important will largely depend on your business goals, but here are a few common ones.
Common Reasons for Lost Opportunities: The Prospects’ Perspective
Qualitative prospect feedback is one of the most critical parts of the win/loss analysis process. Finding out what made your prospects decide to buy your competitors’ solutions and identifying the most and least common reasons for lost opportunities reveals a wealth of information regarding your competitive positioning in the market.
The more granular you go, the more insightful your findings will be. You may be surprised by your findings when you slice and dice this data in different ways, such as by product, product category, pricing, customer persona, customer segment, or marketing channel.
Common Reasons for Won Opportunities: The Customers’ Perspective
While you will have plenty of quantitative data on the deals that you have won – which you can pivot a million ways based on the angle you want to view it from – remember again to pay heed to your qualitative feedback.
Note why your customers decided to buy from you, as well as why it may have been a close call. For example, is your pricing too close to the sensitive range? Are competitors offering better deals than you are? These responses will usually reinforce your findings from your prospects’ responses – and will reveal your position in the market just as effectively.
Again, going granular is key. Customers from one segment may offer insights that are vastly different from those revealed by customers from another segment, or geographically close customers may reveal similar behavior.
Analysis by Persona
Your product/solution was created to solve a certain set of challenges. However, not all customers or prospects experience those challenges the same way – which also means that they would not respond to your sales and marketing efforts in a similar manner. When you analyze your win rate and win/loss ratio by persona, you get a feel of how well (or how poorly) your approach resonates with varied audiences.
Analysis by Competitor
Like many businesses, if your business operates in an increasingly crowded market, it may prove challenging to identify which competitors to pay attention to – or not. One way to figure this out is to calculate your win rate as well as win/loss ratio for each competitor.
Analysis by Lead Channel
Your business generates leads and customers via a variety of channels. Just as different prospects and customers may experience challenges differently, different channels generate revenue at different rates. Calculating your win rate and win/loss ratio by channel can help you figure out which channels generate leads that tend to convert more into customers – and which ones do not.
Share Your Data
Once you have summarized your findings, it is time to share them with the necessary people. This helps identify consensus-based, prioritized, measurable action plans that align with short and long-term business growth goals.
Here are a few ways that you can share your win-loss data.
- Motivate teams: Positive data from a win/loss analysis can empower teams (product, sales, marketing, customer support – everyone involved in the sales cycle) and encourage them to perform better. You can also let individual team members know how well they are succeeding based on their key performance indicators (KPIs), and show them the impact of their performance on the business’ success.
- Provide constructive feedback: All involved teams should also receive specific, constructive feedback on their performance. For sales executives, this could be on the effectiveness of their presentation skills, their ability to sell a vision by way of your solution, or the customer-centricity of their approach. For product team members, this could be the number of customer support tickets logged, and for the customer success team, it could be the speed and efficacy of resolving these tickets.
- Include it in quarterly reviews and key stakeholder meetings: Win/loss data is a powerful way to inform senior executives about how your business is doing. Sharing your findings at investor and board meetings may not only garner easier buy-ins for that exciting new marketing strategy, but may also encourage additional investment dollars.
- Inform your investment strategy: Another way win/loss data can be helpful is by finding out whether investments – in customer research, product development, market analysis, etc. – are worth it. These insights should inform your business spend. Remember to focus on the larger picture and think strategically instead of making knee-jerk decisions based on a handful of data.
By now, you have a strong understanding of why you win or lose deals. In light of your learnings, what should be done to accelerate the wins? While the answers to this question will inevitably vary significantly from one business to another, here are a few common action items that can come in handy.
- Narrow your focus. Sometimes, your win/loss data may not highlight any obvious answers in certain areas that you struggle in, such as sales in a particular market segment. In such cases, remember to prioritize. If the opportunity cost of pursuing deals in this segment outweighs the potential revenue from it, let it go.
- Re-examine your customer personas. If certain personas are harder to convert than others, it’s possible that you are targeting the wrong people, or that sales executives don’t have an adequate understanding of them to make a compelling pitch. Either way, you need to re-examine your personas.
- Improve your competitive edge: If your sales team struggles with certain competitors, your win/loss data can help you find out why. Is it because of a great approach to positioning their solution as a superior choice, or because of clever incentives by way of discounts? Contextual intelligence in such cases can help your team come up with better sales tactics to push their deals to the finish line.
- Adjust your product roadmap: This is an action item that rarely comes up, and is more likely to be based on qualitative data than quantitative data. It is usually based on feedback that you receive from prospects who chose an alternative solution to yours, or from long-term customers who have suddenly started dropping off. Details in their responses may reveal that your product is not as aligned with the demands of the market as you think it is – or was initially. Either way, your product roadmap needs to be altered to cater more closely to customer demand.
Crush Competition with Your Win/Loss Analysis
As markets get increasingly crowded, sales deals are bound to get more competitive. As competition intensifies, so, too, do the consequences of a misstep. Therefore, it is more critical than ever to understand both – why you win deals and lose them. With this understanding, your business gains the ability to make consistently smarter sales efforts.
Whether that means doubling down on a specific segment, investing in competitive intelligence, or rethinking your sales strategy, you are far more likely to close more deals when you are backing your decisions with data.