How to get Win / Loss Right: How to be successful in either a home-grown solution or with a third-party

This blog was written by Harriet Peabody, Research Analyst at Anova.

A successful win / loss program offers a wealth of benefits for businesses by providing valuable insights into customer behavior and overall sales effectiveness and can help businesses to continuously improve in order to stay competitive. However, if a win / loss program is not executed or utilized correctly, this limits the advantages one can gain from it. Whether you are using a home-grown win / loss solution or running the program through a third party, there are certain best practices which will help you take full advantage of the benefits win / loss can offer.

In our experience here at Anova, one of the biggest hindrances to program success is at the deal-flow level. The most important thing for program success is having sample to work with. There are two ways companies run into problems here:

  1. The deal information is inaccurate, often taken directly from the CRM.

Relying solely on CRM data can make it difficult to reach the contacts you are targeting, as this data is often inaccurate. You need to ensure you are reaching the right contact who will have the best insight into the sales process, and that the contact information you are using is correct.

  1. Salespeople are hesitant to submit their deals for win / loss interviews

This issue has to do less with logistics and more with company culture. Here at Anova, one of our values is a growth mindset, which is fostered by feedback. It is important to learn and grow from feedback, rather than reacting defensively. If salespeople fear negative repercussions from submitting a lost deal for feedback, they will miss out on an important learning opportunity. A company with a culture that is open to feedback will encourage salespeople to learn from their losses without fear of ramifications.

In putting the process into place for win / loss, ensure that representative deals are chosen for feedback, including a split of both wins and losses, and that the interviews occur shortly after the sales process to get the most relevant and accurate data. In our experience, a phone interview has the best results, both for the quality of data collected and the response rate, as opposed to an online survey. Tailor your interview guide according to your business and what you are looking to learn.

When it comes to the analysis and insights phase of the program, if you are running a home-grown solution, you will need to take on the data analysis and present the results in an effective way. Use the interview data to identify trends and recurring themes. Look for common reasons for wins and losses, competitor strengths and weaknesses, and areas for improvement in your sales process or product offering. Equally important to the insights gleaned from the data is what you do with them. For best results, present the findings in a clear and concise way in order to help stakeholders easily understand the key takeaways.

Throughout your program, internal or external, ensure the interviews are distributed to the stakeholders who will be able to learn and take action from them – and the same goes for the program end results. Not only should you distribute the findings liberally in your organization, but you must also develop concrete action plans based on the insights. This could involve sales training, product enhancements, or adjustments to marketing messaging.

Whether run internally or with a third party, there are aspects of all steps of the win / loss process which are under your control and will improve program success for your company. In keeping with a growth mindset, a win / loss program is something that should be sustained year over year. If you are striving for continuous improvement, you can never rest on your laurels, and should be seeking feedback and looking for new ways to grow indefinitely. The most successful programs are years in the making, giving you years of historical data to analyze for trends and track your improvement in various areas. This will hold your company accountable for learning from feedback and acting on the insights uncovered by your win / loss program.