What is Win Loss Analysis?
Win Loss Analysis is a method of sales improvement. It involves conducting regular interviews with customers who have bought from the business, and those that have chosen not to buy or bought from a competitor. By conducting interviews, often run by a trusted third party, the sales and marketing team can learn what works well and what needs to improve in future sales engagements.
The 10 questions that you need to ask.
Running win-loss analysis is a great way to learn from mistakes and see that all-important increase in win rates. But, in order to really learn from the exercise, the most important factor is to choose your questions carefully.
At Viewpoint Analysis, we run Win Loss Analysis for a number of companies. As we are independent and have not been a participant in the sales process, it enables us to ask questions that the sales leadership team would not be able to ask - or at least they might not get an honest answer if they did ask! If you can have someone outside of your business ask the questions (and ask them in the right way), it's a much better approach.
In terms of the questions you ask, it will largely be dependent upon the customer situation, but here are 10 questions that we think should be on your next and future win-loss analysis calls.
1. Who did you buy from and why did you select them?
Not the first question that you ask (we recommend asking this towards the end of the interview) but this is such an important one for so many reasons. In many cases, the customer has not confirmed this until the loss interview and therefore it is a critical question to put to bed. If asked well, it will lead to a number of follow-up questions that will drive a fantastic amount of value for future sales engagements.
2. Would you buy from us in the future?
This is a killer question in any loss interview. It often speaks to the professionalism of your team (both the sales team and the leadership) as you are asking whether the customer would engage with the team again should they have a new opportunity. It's particularly helpful to understand how your team took the news that they had lost.
3. How did you find us and how did you initially contact us?
This is a great way to understand how your marketing is working out for you. How did they find the business and how did they contact us (e.g. was it by phone/email/contact us form etc). Try to follow this up by asking how they felt when they made that initial contact. So often we learn that mistakes were made in the handling of the first contact and that this then carried a shadow throughout the engagement.
4. Is there anything our sales team could learn from the competitor team? Anything they did that we should look to do in the future?
This tends to be an eye-opener in any win-loss interview as it gets the customer to think about how the other team(s) did and what impressed them. It also highlights any obvious weakness in your team's approach.
5. Was there any element of our product or service that was missing?
This can be asked in a variety of different ways, but it's another crucial one. What we are looking to do here is to improve our product or service development. What's that thing that the competitor has that the customer loved? Can we take this issue away in future sales engagements?
6. Talk us through your decision process.
A simple question to ask and one that the customer will be able to answer without any problems. It helps to learn how a customer makes a decision and the hurdles or issues they face as they come to that decision. However, it also enables us to check whether our team understood the process in the level of detail that we would expect them to.
If there was a team behind the decision, ask them to explain the decision committee and why some people didn't vote our way.
7. Can you explain how our commercials compared?
Again, it's likely that this may be the first time that the customer answers the question about price. All too often we make an assumption that price was the defining factor. In our experience of running win-loss analysis (or win-loss interviews), it's rarely the real reason behind the decision. However, let's ask the question and try to understand where the numbers landed. It's good to understand this in detail as sometimes we find the key competitor has been using an ingenious pricing strategy and that's a core reason for them winning so many deals.
8. If you had your time again - what would you change?
Asking the customer to self-reflect can be really useful and very powerful. It's also a great way to learn for both parties - and to help guide future customers to improve how they purchase.
9. Can you talk us through what happened before we were engaged in the sales process?
What we are looking for here is a potted history of the customer's market analysis. How soon were we engaged in the process? Did we miss out on some crucial stages? What caused the investment to take place?
10. What one thing could we have done to change the result?
Always the last question in our customer interviews and it can be very enlightening. What is the one thing that really stood out - the one thing that we could have improved? Maybe our pricing. Maybe having a different salesperson on the account. Maybe asking for the business too soon? There is almost always one thing that will come out as a big lesson.
In the odd scenario, this question can also elicit an opportunity to get back into the deal - "if we changed this now, would we still be in your process?"....
Running them regularly.
A one-off customer interview can be very valuable but the real value comes from finding the average answer. What common issues just keep coming up? That's when patterns start to emerge and that's when the sales team can really see an improvement and we move the needle. If you can run a win-loss review on every lost deal, that's perfect, but it doesn't have to be so often. We recommend 1 in every 3 or 4 lost deals - maybe more or maybe less depending upon the importance and size and shape of those deals.
Win Loss Analysis - it can be a game changer. It's easy to do - it's quick - and there is nothing in our services area that has a greater potential ROI. If you would like to learn more about how we run Win Loss Analysis or if you would like to see an example customer interview, please get in touch and we'd be happy to help.