Hearing this statement from a prospective client can be a bitter pill to swallow, particularly after a long and complex sales cycle.
- Only 1 in 5 companies regularly conduct a win/loss analysis
- It costs money, time and resources to sell to your customers.
- We need to be disciplined in our understanding of our buyer's perceptions of us and continuously align our offers with those perceptions and needs.
When confronted with a lost opportunity, our natural inclination is to try and work out what went wrong while avoiding any undue scrutiny from the senior management team. As seasoned sales professionals, we try to help explain why we lost a particular deal:
We lost on price (probably not the #1 reason)
The client had a pre-existing bias towards another vendor.
We lacked executive sponsorship (a clever one because it shares the responsibility around a bit but is still vague enough to avoid direct finger-pointing).
Good sales processes are aligned to how our customers buy, NOT on how we want to sell!
Our best clients will use their CRM system to capture intelligent shared knowledge about the market place, prospective customers and their competitors to more fully align with the way customers buy. The CRM information becomes one shared version of the truth.
- If we do not know why people buy or do not buy from us then Marketing is running "blind".
- Do you really understand how we differentiate ourselves from the competition?
- Do your forecasting processes reflect a likely probability of success?
- Do we articulate our offer in a common way?
So why did we win or lose?
Humans instinctively want to avoid those awkward conversations with sales management and with the prospective client. The client has no desire to hurt our feelings or make us feel worse so we'll often receive half-hearted excuses, which only bear a passing resemblance to their real decision-making criteria.
Could something as simple as a Win/Loss review (WLR) hold the key to unlocking this business conundrum? By developing a process that ensures that we're constantly learning from each sales cycle, eliminating errors, and determining what make us successful, could we gradually improve and refine our end-to-end sales process?
Advantages of Win Loss Review
A win loss review, WLR, program can become a game-changer and when implemented with a useful CRM system, becomes a treasure chest of ideas, knowledge for improvements, intelligence on what to stop doing and a source of good old hard won knowledge. If your sales organization is prepared to undertake a little soul searching, face up to changes in buying behaviors and is ready to acknowledge the flaws of your "selling" process, the tangible deliverables and key advantages can include:
- Identified trends in the market.
- Really understanding your client's decision making processes and buying processes.
- Improved individual and company-wide win ratios.
- Quicker close rates through a better understanding of the factors that have delayed sales cycles in the past.
- An ability to establish clear win/loss benchmarks, shared across your company.
- Dramatic improvement in competitive win rates through a more complete understanding of what your competitors are doing to win business from your company.
- A continued improvement culture and a more client-centric sales model.
- Increased competitive advantage through real client led differentiation
- A mechanism to track sales effectiveness and quickly identify enablement targets across the entire sales force.
Considering the Sales Processes you use - are you selling in a way that your client's want to buy?
- What key criteria do they use to make a decision - delivery timescales, quality, price, features, advantages...
- Do they prefer to buy via the phone, do they want demo's, what do they think of you?
- What are their 3 most important buying criteria, how do you rank on these against your competitors?
- Do you sell the same way to all of them?
Client's perception is their reality - you have to get underneath their decison making process for buying or not buying your solution.
What are the rules for Win/Loss Review?
We need to interview Clients and Non-Clients to get a balanced view
We need to do this regularly and within 3 months of winning/losing a deal
It should be done in a non-sales environment
Compile, analyze and present quarterly findings
Use a metric based template to quantify why you wind and why you lose
Rate key decision making criteria
We have to be able to quantify what we uncover by assigning a rating to each of their criteria. For your specific marketplace identify key decision making criteria.
- Clarity and Quality of RFP or proposal
- Client's culture for bringing in and adopting to change
- Solution - products / peripherals & structure
- Service and support package
- Delivery time frames
- Environment issues
- Financial measurements (ROI, TCO, Lifetime costs)
- Pricing and payment options
- Other specfics from the client's viewpoint....
Conducting a "win/loss" call with your clients:
- Should be a 10 to 15 minute call
- As with all calls to customers, plan what you will be discussing
- Within your CRM system review the notes from your sales process steps
- Ask for permissions to talk about the recent deal with you or their decision to go with a competitor
- Introduce the template and then run through the questions
- Think of additional questions to ask such as "in what way could we have improved the way we dealt with you?"
- Remember the objective of the Win/Loss Call are:
- To understand their buying process and whether you were aligned to it
- To gather data on clients to build a picture of how you are perceived
- To verify your competitive differentiation
- To align your selling process with your client's buying process
Expected outcomes and What's in it for managers
- A good understanding of best practices of your top performers from a client perspective
- Benchmark sales performance
- Increase revenue per sales person
- Refinement of sales techniques to increase win ratio
- Competitive differentiation - yours versus the market's
- Improve understanding of competitors
- Portfolio fit with the market
- Brand perception
- Understanding of Client buyer processes
- Understand when you are going to win/lose