win-loss interview


Use win-loss analysis to build a customer centric business

Putting your customer at the center of your sales, product development, and marketing is a key practice successful companies strive to incorporate and maintain. Becoming a customer-centric organization is not an easy task, but in the long-run it can have measurable and lasting benefits. According to Deloitte, customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than those that are not. Not only that, but customer-centric companies have lower attrition rate, increased sales performance, and higher lead conversion. 

The best way to focus more on the customer is simply talk to them. Sounds like a no-brainer, but many companies never actually get around to it. Learning from both won and lost customers can help you to understand what truly matters to them, why they think your company is different and better (or worse) than the competition, and why they selected the vendor they did.

Creating a win-loss program to frequently check in with won and lost prospects is a great way to start using customer and prospect feedback to improve competitive win rate, decrease attrition rate, and increase bottom of funnel “closed-won” conversion. In addition, win-loss interviews can also help you understand how to refocus your sales team with an approach & execution strategy that shows your prospects why your company’s offering will better fit their needs than the competition.

Running an effective win-loss program takes planning

This is not a project you can throw to an intern to use a simple web survey to complete. Win-loss interviews require a mix of art and science to maximize the results and get real nuggets of actionable intelligence. If you are serious about using win-loss analysis to increase your sales win-rate, a defined strategy and process will be required to gather actionable results. In our experience, here are a few things to consider when building a win-loss interview process:

Using a third-party can make a significant difference in outcomes 

Companies often do not have the time to complete 30 interviews a quarter and then analyze the data. Using a 3rd party win-loss interview expert guarantees that you will get the data you need. A third-party can also help bring an unbiased perspective as to why you are winning or losing sales to the competition. Plus, in our experience customers are more comfortable and open talking with someone that isn’t employed by your company.

Don’t limit interviews just to competitive positioning

Win-Loss interviews can be used to not only power competitive learning but also help you to understand your own sales team’s effectiveness. With the right discussions, you can identify training, messaging, and sales enablement tools that your sales team can use to improve conversion. You may also find that a revised sales strategy may need to be considered based upon findings from customer interviews.

Understanding “why you win” is just as important as “why you lose”

We often hear from customers that want to focus customer interviews on customers that selected the competition over their companies. These interviews are extremely valuable to understand why you are losing opportunities overall, as well as to specific competitors. But understanding why you win can help you to replicable the elements of a successful sales cycles to increase overall win-rate. We recommend that you have a 50% mix of interviews with competitively “won” customers as well as lost customers.

Great insights are not going to come from a single interview

In our experience, the “ah-ha” moments from win-loss interviews come when you have findings from several different interviews and analyze the interviews collectively. Looking at all the key insights from multiple deep interviews can help you to identify the competitive differentiation you are looking for or help you to re-shape your sales team’s approach to prospects.

Win-Loss results are work when they are shared

If you don’t share the results of your win-loss interviews, there really isn’t any reason to do it in the first place. You don’t need to share entire transcripts. However, it is critical to share the highlights and themes of the aggregate analysis of the interviews. We share results with a broad group of internal customers: product management, company leadership, sales teams, and marketing team members. Also, customizing the results packaging to specific audiences is important. For example, packaging findings into competitive-specific sales battlecards are great reference guides for sales and accounts teams to utilize.

Measure changes in customer feedback over time

In our experience, we have found that doing a win-loss assessment one time will provide value, but the real opportunity for conversion optimization is to measure findings and insight changes over time. Conducting and analyzing win-loss interviews quarterly can help you to identify emerging trends, changes in your competitive landscape, and help you analyze the effectiveness of your sales and marketing strategies.

Get sales rep buy-in first

Before you interview a won or lost customer, it is important to first get the sales rep or account executive involved in the sales cycle! Either have your interviewing partner company contact the sales rep/account execute or you email them directly. Whatever you do, make sure the rep/AE is included in this process BEFORE you reach out to the customer. They may be able to share with you that the sales cycle hasn’t formally been completed, that there are politics involved that you want to avoid, or the decision-maker is no longer at the customer company.

Now is the time to start

Often times, what we “think” are critical differentiators and strong “why-to-buy” messages do not resonate with customers. Developing a strong win-loss interview program can help you to proactively identify where your messaging, marketing strategy, and sales tactics need refinement. They also show you how you can help your sales teams to increase win-rate and decrease customer attrition rate.

If you would like help building a successful win-loss interview program, please contact us. Conversion Path Consulting has over 3 decades of combined experience helping organizations increase sales performance and become more customer centric.

Tim Rhodes

Tim Rhodes

Tim Rhodes is one of the managing directors of Conversion Path Consulting. He is an accomplished, results-driven B2B enterprise product marketing executive with a specialties in go-to-market strategy, competitive positioning, sales enablement, and team leadership. His passion is driving new B2B enterprise revenue through winning GTM strategy & messaging, increasing sales win-rate through programmatic sales enablement, and creating winning competitive differentiation.

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