A Typical Approach to Win Loss Analysis
Many sales teams claim to have a handle on the reason why they win or lose an opportunity. After we assess their practice, we learn that their process to determine those reasons is almost always the same: A Salesforce generated win-loss report.
A typical process looks like this:
- Step 1 - Salesperson adds reason for win or loss from a drop-down list into Salesforce
- Step 2 - The reasons are aggregated quarterly and a report is generated
- Step 3 - Information is shared internally and occasionally with other teams
This is a common process for mid-market software companies. These companies are mature enough to understand the importance of win-loss analysis and its value to top-line growth. However, their practice lacks valuable information needed to validate the strength of their value proposition, improve conversation rates, or diminishing churn.
Their current process primarily focuses on sales opportunities. They understand that a salesperson is the individual closest to the deal. They assume that proximity equates to insight. So logically (or lazily), they create a process through Salesforce that tasks salespeople to select the reasons behind that outcome. This is a win-loss analysis practice of least resistance. It’s relatively painless to implement, it’s logical, and it can be easily aggregated. Unfortunately, the results often get stuck in sales as a training tool. It doesn’t provide marketing, product, or senior leadership insights to adapt to changes in buyer preferences, competition, or overall strategy.
The problem with this approach lies in its simplicity. How much insight can be gathered from tallying up a few predetermined reasons for wins and losses? For example, when a generated report states that the biggest reason for loss is "price", what exactly does that mean?
A recent client conducted an in-house win-loss program and determined that “price was too high” was the biggest factor in losing a deal. They considered dropping their price to align with their closest competitor. Fortunately, before they did so, we had the opportunity to conduct a Buyers’ Insight Analysis on their prospects. The results showed that their in-house results were correct, but their solution was not.
Their real problem was the pricing model, not the price.
Regardless of the user base, they were charging for every professional within the customer’s organization that benefited from their software solution. Half the time the value proposition for that model made sense. But when small teams using that product supported a large group of professionals, it felt like a rip off. With this pricing model in place, even a 50% discount wouldn’t have fixed the customer’s perception of price and value. Additionally, we found that price was not a top buying factor for customers who were evaluating this type of product in the market (price ranked fourth of six).
Instead of cutting the price across the board, we provided recommendations that closed the value perception gap. We consistently see this type of programmatic error in our engagements. Win-loss results identified through Salesforce are not ‘reasons’, they are categories where reasons might lie.
A Different Approach
Win-Loss Analysis is a misnomer. One shouldn’t simply care why you win or lose a particular deal. One should care about what a buyer measures to make choices that lead to a buying decision. Gathering this type of insight requires having an interaction with your customer. We recommend getting out of Salesforce and ASKING your wins and losses directly. This eliminates interpretation and gathers actual information on what factors mattered most when making a buying decision. This changes the outcome of this analysis from sales enablement to market discovery.
Who should be accountable for this new type of Buyers' Insight Analysis?
This analysis requires an individual trained and tasked to find what the market wants. Someone who is neutral and their intent is not to make a sale. Most importantly they should NOT have an established relationship with a customer. This allows for a certain level of anonymity from the customers perspective and effectively more honest feedback.
The answer is either your Product Management team or an Unbiased Third Party.
At Egress Solutions Inc, often our clients hire us to run their initial Win/Loss Analysis program and then transition this process to their Product Management team to do quarterly. To learn more about Egress Solutions and our Buyers’ Insight offering, contact us today.