A win/loss analysis is the process of studying past business deals in order to generate valuable insights about your company’s selling practices. The insights garnered from this type of analysis can be instrumental in growing your business and increasing revenue.
In fact, companies that conduct win/loss analyses consistently outperform those that don’t in the following areas (source):
- Customer retention rate: 60% vs. 48%
- Reps attaining quota: 51% vs. 47%
- Lead conversion rate: 23% vs. 17%
Continue reading to learn how you can incorporate sales win/loss analysis into your business strategy.
Step 1: Decide who will conduct your interviews.
It’s considered best practice to have a third-party company conduct win/loss analysis interviews on your company’s behalf—for several reasons:
- A third-party has no emotional investment in your products or selling tactics and they’ll be able to provide unbiased feedback.
- Lost prospects and new customers will be more comfortable sharing their unfiltered opinions with a third-party.
- The interviewer will be a well-trained professional. They’ll ask the right questions, retain the right information, and deliver the results to your company in an easily digestible format.
If you don’t have the resources to hire an outside vendor, you can, of course, conduct the interviews in-house. If you decide to go this route, be sure to choose interviewers who were not immediately involved with the sales opportunity in question.
Step 2: Develop your win/loss analysis questions.
If you use a third-party vendor to conduct your win/loss analysis interviews, they will likely prepare their own list of generic questions. Regardless, you should consider coming up with a few questions specific to your industry that an outside company may not think of. Here are a few sample questions to consider:
- What product or features were you initially interested in? Was it a good fit from the start?
- What pain point or problem were you trying to solve? What was your initial perception of this company’s ability to solve that problem?
- Why did you decide to purchase from this company? Or, why didn’t you?
- Did you have specific buying requirements going into the initial sales call or meeting? What were they?
- How many people were involved in the decision making process? What does your decision-making process usually look like?
- What was your perception of the sales team? How was their sales pitch? Did they seem knowledgeable? Were they helpful? What would have improved your perception of the sales team?
- How well did we tailor our sales pitch to your specific needs and pain points?
- How did you feel about the timeline of the sales process? Did it take too long? Did you feel pressured to make a quick decision? What would have improved this aspect of the buying process?
- Were you comfortable with the capabilities of our products and services? Are there any products or services you wish we offered?
- What questions do you wish had been answered early on in the buying process?
- Did you speak to any of our references or customers to help you make the decision to buy?
- What did you think of our pricing? What made our pricing reasonable or unreasonable?
- Which of our competitors have you looked at?
- How did we compare to the competition? What made our competitors stronger or weaker?
- How did your perception of our company and products change throughout the buying process? What made it better? And what made it worse?
- What was the ultimate factor that caused you to purchase or not purchase?
- What advice would you give our sales team moving forward?
- Would you recommend our company?
- Do you have any additional comments or questions?
- Would you be willing to participate in a case study or testimonial?
It’s important to note that these are just suggestions. We don’t recommend using all of them—as win/loss analysis interviews should never last more than 30 minutes. You want to be respectful of an interviewee’s time and leave them with a favorable opinion of your company.
Step 3: Decide which companies to interview.
Whether you conduct two interviews or 100 interviews, it’s important that you speak to an equal mix of wins and losses. Focusing on one group of prospects over the other will give you skewed results. The Insights Association recommends a minimum of two interviews for every 10 pitches (source).
Step 4: Schedule and conduct your interviews.
Interviews should be scheduled no later than two months after the deal closes or falls through. You want the buying process to be fresh in the company’s memory. Prior to the interview, prepare the company by explaining the purpose of the conversation, get their consent to record the conversation, and even provide them with a few sample questions.
As previously mentioned, win/loss analysis interviews should be short and sweet. Do your research and ask only the questions that pertain to that particular prospect or buyer.
Step 5: Analyze results.
If you worked with an outside company to conduct your win/loss analysis they will likely do this part for you. If not, go through your recordings and notes to identify common patterns. Were there complaints that the buying process took too long? Did companies note that your prices were their deciding factor? Does your competitor offer a unique feature that caused you to lose several deals? These are all important observations.
Identify both strengths and weaknesses. Point out any holes in the selling process or shortcomings in the products. Compile these thoughts—both the good and the bad—into a concise, easy-to-read format.
Step 6: Present your findings.
Regularly distribute the results of win/loss analyses to all departments within your company—not just sales. Marketing, product managers, engineers, and client services can also benefit from customer feedback.
Step 7: Incorporate findings into future sales, products, and campaigns.
Once you understand why you’re winning and losing deals, come up with a few action items to incorporate into future sales. For example, if customers reported that your prices were better than the competition, the action item would be to highlight that selling point within upcoming sales calls and marketing campaigns. The point is to use your strengths and weaknesses to develop a scalable process that produces more wins for your sales team.