Earlier this year, SBI consultant Kirk Snider wrote, “the only way to provide a good experience is to listen to what your customer is saying.” In his article, he shares why implementing different, and numerous types of listening paths are vital to growth. Listening paths provide management teams, especially your sales team, with an objective view into current and sometimes future market conditions and voice of the customer. As a result, your company will have a constant pulse on the market that grounds decision making in a buyer-first philosophy.
For most companies, lack of information is usually not the issue; instead, it is how leaders consolidate the information and the process of reaping insights and action items from that knowledge. Additionally, successful sales leaders don’t only implement listening paths when reactively churn increases. They also have an ongoing process to continuously monitor so GTM strategies can adequately adapt to your target market. You can download the marketing listening tool to help get you started.
As you begin planning your strategy for 2020, your sales leader must keep in mind how to successfully implement listening paths programmatically. Though there are multiple ingredients to the secret market-listening sauce, there are two listening paths that sales leaders must prioritize while planning for 2020: win/loss and churn interviews.
Turn the Pain into Gain
By implementing an ongoing process for win/loss interviews and churn interviews, all go-to-market teams can reap lessons learned to implement in their GTM strategies. This also provides a huge opportunity to have your sales team align with your marketing team—with all teams sharing ongoing feedback.
There’s no need to take this initiative and analyze every single win and loss. To optimize this process, consider the bigger winner and losers. They are the ones that move the needle for your number and analyze the who, what, how, when, and why. Understand who was involved internally and externally, what type of deal it was, how it got to where it did, the timing of the agreement, and why the customer/prospect made their decision. It’s also important to have a good cross-section of opportunities to ensure they are representative of different industries and geographies.
Win or Lose, Insights Can Still Be Gained
The purpose of win/loss interviews of recent prospects is to leverage learnings that can refresh playbooks, update customer journey maps, and collect competitive intelligence. These interviews should be conducted by 1:1 phone in-person conversations with both won customers or lost prospects. These conversations will reap qualitative insights and allow team members to understand where they can improve throughout the seller’s journey.
These interviews should be conducted by Sales Operations and/or Enablement and share findings and insights with the marketing team as well. Utilize your CRM platform for success by setting up an automated monthly report that gets sent to your inbox to help with outreach. Your fields should include:
- Account name
- Created date
- Internal opportunity owner
- Main point of contact
- Contact information
- Number of employees
- Deal size
- Duration of deal time before the deal closed or duration of the customer
- Product/service of interest
- Stage: Won or Lost
This will allow you to look at the largest accounts won, and the most significant accounts lost. Keep in mind that different types of customers and prospects behave differently. It’s good to have a diverse sample size, which will allow for more tailored and personalized GTM strategies.
From Churn into Lessons Learned
Customers come and go. There are various reasons for when they do go: whether it be filing for chapter 11, change in leadership, change in business needs, competitors crowding the marketplace, etc. But you won’t know why customers left until you ask and have a conversation about it. The purpose of churn interviews is to apply learnings from recently lost customers so that the same mistakes can be avoided by your sales team, alongside customer success, in the future. Without any hard feelings, your team can conduct 1:1 telephone interviews with a member of the buying decision team who recently stopped buying your product and/or service. Sometimes your marketing team or a third party can perform these, and in our experience, these have a higher response rate.
If possible, all churned customers should be contacted within 30 days of losing the business. This will allow for timely insights. The Customer Success team should conduct these interviews with findings and insights shared with sales and marketing.
For bonus points, add them to your professional network on LinkedIn and write a personalized thank you note. This will allow the opportunity to maintain a relationship and keep your company top of mind for the prospect. Not all lost customers are dead ends forever.
Turning Market Listening from a Project to a Program
Both types of interviews should be conducted at a monthly cadence, though there will always be a seasonal component. If sales skew towards a specific quarter, more interviews should be conducted then. Best-in-class companies have low churn, which then leads to less loss and churn interviews. But don’t forget to maintain the won interviews to identify themes.
If market listening paths have not been implemented yet, start with pilot versions. Have an open line of communication for all members involved for continuous feedback to see what works and what doesn’t. Once win/loss and churn interviews are implemented, you will have the right mindset and framework to implement other listening paths.
This marketing listening path tool can get you started with executing and iterating your GTM strategy and specifically, your seller’s journey. With a well-executed market listening capability, companies leverage quantitative and qualitative data into actional insights to grow faster in the market. SBI has helped previous clients Make Their Number by building market listening paths. Our team can help you get started.