From Our Team to Yours: A Conversation with an Anova Analyst

We continue our series From Our Team to Yours with a conversation with Senior Research Analyst Jack Ryan. Learn from Jack as he describes aspects of Anova’s consultative approach and analytical methods for finding trends in aggregate data sets across win / loss research.

Anova: Jack, we are coming up on halfway through 2018 already. So far this year, what are some things you are seeing in win / loss reports that clients should be aware of?

Jack: Making product-related parallels can be difficult because Anova does work across so many unique companies and verticals. Still, there are some sales-related things that are consistent across all the programs right now. Sales skills such as differentiation, needs analysis, and value prop articulation are traits that any sophisticated B2B sales team will need to have, no matter what they are selling.

Anova: Let’s talk about those three sales traits. Have you noticed any trends in reports thus far this year you can share?

Jack: I was actually just working on a benchmarking study about differentiation. One stat that stuck out to me was across all our clients, satisfaction with the winning vendor’s ability to differentiate is about twice as high as satisfaction with the 2nd place provider’s ability to differentiate. And that difference is more pronounced in mature industries where the product is relatively commoditized.

Anova: So, is sales feedback one of the first things you look at in a data set?

Jack: Not necessarily. My typical process is to understand what is most top of mind for our clients’ prospects or clients. In win / loss interviews, that means looking at and getting a really good understanding of the responses to “what were our client’s top strengths” and “what were our client’s top areas for improvement?”.  Grasping what stood out most about our clients, both positively and negatively, usually gives me an idea of where to look next in order to tell the story. Sales is almost always part of that story, and those three areas -differentiation, needs analysis, and value articulation- usually play a key role in that narrative.

Anova: You say you want to “tell the story”. What does that mean from your perspective?

Jack: That’s ultimately why most of our clients hire us. Each interview tells the individual story of a single prospect’s unique decision. Then when there is an aggregate data set, it is on Anova to be able to synthesize all those situations and come up with the narrative for our clients of why they are winning and losing business, and ultimately, how they can win more. We don’t want to just list off a series of statistics that have no meaning. For our work to have an impact on the client, the results and subsequent takeaways need to be articulated in a way that ties different data points together and makes sense.

Anova: Do you have an example of a recent client you were able to tell a story to?

Jack: Definitely. We just finished a project for a software client in the network security space. The client recently pivoted to focus on prospects in a few key verticals and was looking for guidance on how their sales approach and product was being perceived in those segments. We had the kickoff and learned about the different hypotheses the client had for why they were losing business. When it came time to analyze the data, instead of just giving a rundown of findings, we related the findings back to the initial hypotheses of the client. For instance, instead of saying product, price, and brand were the top three reasons the client was losing business, we put the results into context by giving our interpretation of whether product, price, and brand were overstated or understated as hypotheses for losing business. Comparing the actual data to the client’s initial guesses was an impactful way to tell a story and help the findings resonate with the client.

Anova: That’s very helpful. Thanks Jack!