Who Should Do Win-Loss Analysis?

At most companies, everyone agrees that Win-Loss Analysis is very important. After all, without understanding why you are winning deals and why you are losing, how are you to know what you’re doing right and what you need to change? For example:

  • Are your sales people blowing it by not properly qualifying the deal or understanding the prospect’s problems?
  • Is your product a true winner or is it deficient in critical ways?
  • Are your products priced competitively?
  • Are you lacking in other components of the big picture, such as professional services or customer support?

However, despite the benefits, Win-Loss Analysis rarely gets done.  The product managers and product marketing managers, who are traditionally responsible for Win-Loss, are usually too busy and overloaded.

But there is hope. Win-Loss Analysis is a perfect job for an outside consultant or contractor, and can often be done extremely cost effectively while freeing product management and product marketing staff to focus on strategic tasks that can’t be outsourced.

In fact, a consultant might get better and more accurate results that an employee because lost prospects are more likely to be honest with an outsider.

Why? Because:

  1. They don’t have to worry about offending the sales person, the product, or the vendor as a whole.
  2. They don’t have to worry about the consultant using the Win-Loss conversation to try re-opening the sales process – a decision prospects are often loathe to revisit after a protracted selection process.  This fear is a major reason lost prospects turn down requests for Win-Loss interviews.

A Win-Loss consulting engagement usually involves interviewing a majority of the customers and lost prospects from the last quarter or half.  The consultant has a short conversation with the internal account team for each customer or prospect to learn their take on why the customer was won or the prospect was lost.

Then, the consultant interviews each customer and prospect, delving into the areas most likely to provide actionable feedback.   Depending on the account, topics might include the business problem driving the product purchase, product fit (or lack of) with the problem, competition, account team dynamics, and the customer’s internal decision-making process.

If done right, these conversations — without fail — uncover distinct patterns across several customers.  Follow-on conversations — both internally and externally — dive into the causes and effects of these patterns.  Finally, the consultant works with internal employees to identify specific initiatives and actions to improve the situation.

Sue Raisty

Product management geek, born-again engineer, adoptive mother of boys, coach & mentor, mountain trail runner, tinkerer, no-bull communicator, wannabe writer, room mother & compulsive researcher.

Silicon Valley, California http://blog.sueraisty.com