The win/loss review is only as good as the data and feedback gathered, however. You need to get the best information possible. Then you need to interpret both quantitative and qualitative data in a systematic way.
Win/loss analysis is just one input into assessing your sales strategy. Tap into the How to Make Your Number in 2018 to review emerging best practices outlined in phases within the Sales Strategy section on pages 342 – 422.
It’s easy to get stuck using the wrong approach for a win/loss analysis. Here’s how to conduct an analysis that results in useful recommendations.
The Analysis: Quantitative and Qualitative Dos and Don’ts
The best win/loss reports have both qualitative and quantitative information. But the quality of that information is really the key to success.
This data is usually a simple conversion ratio. The number of qualified leads is compared to the number of wins and losses. But there is still a right way and a wrong way to gather it:
The wrong way: Most CRM platforms ask the sales rep to input why they lost a deal. Multiple-choice options typically include “price,” which is an easy out for the rep. No one wants to admit they lost a deal for any other reason! If the information input is less than truthful, it isn’t helpful to your analysis.
The right way: Create a list of top 10 factors for winning and losing a sale. Then have an objective party indicate the reason on the report. The sales rep is not objective! Instead, ask the buyers. Talking with the buyers – especially the final buyer – is critical to understanding what happened.
Qualitative, or “categorical,” data is information expressed in natural language instead of numbers. It is the actual experience had by all the participants in a sale. This data helps you understand what happened so you can make future improvements:
The wrong way: Many sales teams overemphasize the feedback of people invested in the outcome. Sales reps and sales managers are not objective sources for win/loss data. Using only sales rep feedback is a mistake. Sales reps will be reluctant to honestly assess their performance. And “the competition” is an easy crutch to use to explain their losses.
The right way: Interview the customer. Use an objective person inside or outside the company to conduct these interviews. Make sure the person is a skilled interviewer and has a well-constructed script. Interview multiple stakeholders. Most importantly: set up the interview soon after the sales loss or win.
The Analysis: Learning from the Data
The next step is understanding the data you have gathered from your sales teams.
Start with the wins. What is helping your sales organization win on a regular basis?
Then move on to losses. What is preventing your sales organization from winning?
Remember, customers have four other options when making a purchase decision. Your four “competitors” are:
- Do nothing. The customer’s problem isn’t urgent and doesn’t require an immediate allocation of resources.
- Do it internally. The customer takes the function in-house for potential savings of time and budget.
- Take it to a competitor. The customer takes their business to one of your direct competitors.
- Change the category. The customer decides on a different solution to their problem. Usually this means they take their business to an indirect competitor.
Look at the data with an eye for interpretation. What activities are effective and ineffective? What are the leading indicators (trends that indicate the future of your organization)? What are the lagging indicators (indicators of past success, such as revenue and profit)?
The Response: Teaching from the Data
When your sales team wins a deal, you learn how to build on success. But losses will actually teach you and your sales organization more than wins will.
When a win/loss report conveys bad news, this is actually a good opportunity for you. You now have the chance to prepare your sales directors to respond effectively using:
- Sales management
No matter if the news is good or bad, though, employ these best practices:
Identify where you lost in the deal – even if you won it.
- Identify areas where you can make changes to remove bottlenecks for buyers
- Identify trends in a particular measurement and make necessary changes for a better outcome. One loss may not demand a huge change in process. But a series of losses to a specific competitor would demand change.
Focus on the process first.
Look through the lens of your sales organization’s process. Most problems start with a faulty process.
Disseminate information quickly.
The information you gained from the win/loss report should be shared in real time. It should also come with specific actions for your sales directors to take. Use a collaboration tool or email for this.
Communicate with front-line sales directors.
Create mini action-plans that operationalize insights and get them working in the field.
Create a competitive positioning statement.
Help your directors create competitive positioning statements. These can be used to educate reps on how to counter competitive claims and advantages.
Communicate across the organization.
Communicate insights across the organization. This includes communicating with sales teams and product teams.
In order to move your sales organization forward, you need data and feedback. Win/loss analysis is a valuable look at how sales are really going. Use these best practices in your win/loss analysis and response.
Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you can make your number? Here is an interactive tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the test to rate yourself against SBI’s sales and marketing strategy to find out if:
- Your revenue goal is realistic
- You will earn your bonus
- You will keep your job