Four Key Components to Your Win / Loss Interview Guide

win loss interviewIn our last blog, we covered the benefits of using a formal interview guide when conducting a win / loss interview. Now, we want to go a level a deeper and discuss what types of questions you should be writing down before-hand, so you can be the most prepared going into the interview with prospects.

Search Criteria: One of the main reasons salespeople lose deals is they do not accurately understand the unique needs of their prospects. It is important in a win / loss interview to transport the respondent back to their thought process at the beginning of their search and ask questions like “What business problems were you trying to solve with the acquisition of a new solution?” and “What were the main attributes you were looking at to differentiate amongst vendors?” These questions help identify what areas the prospect was looking for your sales team to address during the sales process. By the end of the interview, you should make sure it is clear whether the prospect felt your team was able to address these unique needs.

Top-of-Mind Strengths and Weaknesses: Qualitative strength and weakness questions are open-ended questions designed to let the prospect think and answer in free-form. These questions can be as simple as “What were our strong points?” or “What could we improve on?” Be sure these are totally open-ended questions. Do not “lead the witness” with questions such as “Was our brand seen as a strength or weakness of the company?” You can ask questions like that later in the interview, but top-of-mind strength and weakness questions are important to determine the prospect’s true perceptions of your organization, with no outside influence.

Benchmarking / Competitive Intelligence: In addition to collecting open-ended, qualitative feedback, it is also important to use your win / loss interview to collect quantitative data. Having a section where you ask the prospect to rate your organization and a competitor on a number of rating scale questions not only gives you those quantitative statistics, but also provides a fair amount of competitive intelligence. In an interview on a loss decision, ask the prospects to rate your company to the winning provider. In a winning situation, do the same but for the runner up, or a specific competitor you are particularly interested in. Benchmarking questions should come towards the end of your survey because if the client senses the interview is coming to an end they might be more willing to give more information about the competition. It also may force them to focus on and assign ratings to specific attributes they had not thought of yet.

Decision Drivers: It is the most fundamental question of a win / loss interview: “Which vendor did you select and what were the top reasons for your choice?” In looking at the answers to this question, remember back to the question asking what the prospect was focused on at the beginning of the search, and see if anything changed throughout the search process.

These types of questions will give you the foundation for a successful win / loss interview. As you draft your interview guide, be sure to fill in with other questions focusing on the sales process, product / service offering, pricing, and deal-specific areas. But with these tips, you are well on your way to drafting your own interview guide for yourself!