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Win Loss Analysis and Customer Satisfaction Research
Win Loss Analysis: Common Challenges
The process of gathering information on a company’s sales efforts usually begins with the question any good salesperson asks when he or she has not been successful: “Why did I lose the sale?” Unfortunately, getting the true answer to this question can be challenging, because data show that former clients and prospects only tell salespeople the truth about why they gave the sale to a competitor about 40 percent of the time. The reasons for prospects’ lack of candor vary, but they generally come down to a desire on the part of the individuals involved to avoid confrontation and be sensitive to the feelings of the salesperson and company representatives who have been rejected.
In many cases, because of their lack of focus and experience, companies that conduct their own Win-Loss Analysis program also fail to ask the right questions and in the right ways. Being “too close” to the situation can lead to subtle breakdowns in communication, which often prevent salespeople from gleaning the types of information and insight their organization most wants and needs.
In addition, internally-managed programs, especially those implemented by sales teams themselves, are far less effective than those managed externally because prospects often see the process as being less than objective. Experience has shown that former prospects tend to offer more and better input and feedback when they are approached and interviewed by individuals who were not directly involved in a company’s sales efforts, because respondents are generally more comfortable providing frank assessments to individuals who are perceived as being objective and independent.
A fourth way in which the success of such a program can be hindered is when the flow of information surrounding the program is obstructed. For example, a Win-Loss Analysis program is not functioning optimally if the sales team withholds certain sales activities from the process, if product development or marketing stakeholders are denied access to information, or if the program lacks visibility and commitment among senior executives. Achieving cross-functional buy-in and executive support on the front end of the implementation process is essential to maximize the benefit of the feedback and precipitate actual organizational change.
Though many firms conduct post-sales debriefs in one form or another, the most successful and actionable Win Loss Analysis programs leverage independent research firms with specialized expertise and deep experience.