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How To Conduct Win/Loss Analysis To Achieve Strategic Growth (Part II)

In Part I of “How To Conduct Win/Loss Analysis To Achieve Strategic Growth”, I discussed the pre-interview and interview phases of Win/Loss Analysis.

The post-interview phase is the most important element of the Win/Loss Analysis process. During this phase, you will gain insights on how to actually improve your processes, and as a result, better achieve organizational growth.

Keep in mind, though, gaining insights is only part of the picture.

The other part is stakeholders’ willingness to embrace change and work together to create and implement a plan to put these insights into action.

That is no small task and anything but a given. When done in concert, however, these two activities will lead to improved sales and marketing efforts and increased revenues.

Of course, the way you perform each of the activities in this phase will vary based on whether you handle the Win/Loss Analysis process in-house or you outsource to a third party.

So what happens during the post-interview phase of Win/Loss Analysis?

Send Customers/Prospects a “Thank You” Note

This touch point sends a message that you care about and value the customer/prospect experience. Creating a wonderful experience for prospects and customers should be top of mind. The result is the prospect will view you as an organization that understands relationship building, and they may be willing to do business with you in the future or at least recommend you to others.

For the customer, you are starting the customer lifecycle management process on the right foot by showing them that you are committed to their success by adding value every step of the way. After all, your goal is lifetime customers and brand advocates!

Analyze Findings, Create a Report, & Distribute Findings

In your report, be sure to include insights on:

Perception: What was the buyer’s perception of the company prior to initial contact and did it change after close of the opportunity? If perceptions changed during course of the opportunity, how did they change?

Opportunity: Was it the right fit for this buyer? Was the opportunity perceived of value to the buyer?

Buying Process: What did the buyer’s end-to-end decision-making process look like? Was the buyer’s decision-making process in line with your perceptions of the buyer journey? What key messaging resonated with the buyer or what key messaging lost the buyer? What events caused the buyer to take the specific actions? How did the buyer feel about the nurturing process? Did they feel ample time and care was taken to get to know them and address their specific need? What specific actions resulted in the win/loss?

Competitive Environment: Which of your competitors were included in the decision-making process? What specific strengths/weaknesses of your competitors were identified? How did you match up against your competition?

Recommendations/Insights: What specific insights did the buyer provide about your company, the opportunity, and how you did/didn’t meet their need? What recommendations for improvement did the buyer share?

Conduct a Debriefing Meeting

Discuss the specific opportunity with key sales and marketing personnel. Discuss and implement any appropriate action items.

Conduct a Win/Loss Analysis Trends Meeting

While it is important to discuss specific opportunities, identify issues, and make adjustments, use care when making changes to the messaging, processes, or anything else that impacts the brand. You certainly don’t want to make changes in a vacuum.

Just like any test, you need time to evaluate the entire process.

A meeting to discuss trends should be conducted with key stakeholders including sales executives, sales managers, sales leadership, marketing leadership, including those who are responsible for product marketing, competitive intelligence and marketing communications, and members of the C-Suite.

Win/Loss Analysis over time will reveal key patterns and trends.

You will be able to ascertain what factors are resulting in a win or loss, and measure the success of the Win/Loss Analysis program as well as overall sales and marketing performance.

What comes out of this meeting should be prioritized and then an action plan should be created with key stakeholders’ buy-in for task completion. Regular Win/Loss Analysis Trends meetings should be conducted to ensure the company stays on track.

Remember, implementing an effective Win/Loss Analysis program can lift win rates by as much as 50% (Gartner).

The Ultimate Goals of Win/Loss Analysis

1. Sales and Marketing Alignment: When Marketing and Sales conduct a Win/Loss program together, they ensure they are aligned in their goals, expectations and results.

2. More Effective Product Management: Product Management and more specifically, product roadmaps, will be more aligned with marketplace needs and wants. This can result in better product management processes that deliver better products on a timely basis.

3. Stronger Messaging: Value propositions and key messaging will be more aligned to what buyers need and want, which will help solidify your competitive advantage.

4. Targeted Buyer Personas: As more win/loss interviews are conducted, insights gained will help organizations build buyer personas or enhance existing ones. Of course, win/loss interviews do not replace the customer interview process, which is necessary to complete and fine-tune the buyer persona process.

5. Improved Lead Nurturing/Buyer Journey Process: Understanding buyers’ decision-making processes will help the company fine-tune its buyer journey stages and align the sales process to the different stages.

6. Focused Content: After fine-tuning sales processes to buyer journey stages, content can be better mapped to the appropriate buyer stages. This will help fine-tune the organization’s content strategy and the content that is delivered. In addition, marketing can help sales develop the content they need to close sales.

7. Better Competitive Intelligence and Market Research: Win/Loss will help companies better position themselves against their competitors, improve how they compete in existing markets, identify new markets they should pursue and changes they may need to make in order to compete in those markets as well as being able to identify marketplace changes.

Closing Thoughts

Companies must consider and be open to implementing an end-to-end Win/Loss Analysis program — they must plan, conduct interviews, analyze results and be willing to make changes to their business if they want to achieve year-over-year growth.

The process is rigorous. It is an investment and it takes time to implement a Win/Loss program to be able to reap its rewards.

Companies should focus on what the wins and losses really are saying — they shouldn’t take either for granted — there are clear insights to be gained and the better they can see these insights and implement improvements to their sales and marketing efforts, the more likely a company is to succeed.

By integrating win/loss analysis into your current processes, your sales, marketing, product and customer service processes will be able to respond to market place changes quicker and drive growth faster.

An original version of this post appeared in OpenView Labs, the operational consulting arm of OpenView Venture Partners.

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