Go Beyond Win/Loss Reports and Find Out Why Others Chose “None of the Above”

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Vendors who have the discipline to complete win/loss reports usually uncover valuable insights. But concentrating only on wins and losses, and ignoring the growing number of deals that end in “no decision” is really missing a trick!

Most of our clients – who tend to be B2B focused, and sell into complex sales environments – find win/loss reports useful. But most of these reports end up focusing on why the customer chose one vendor over another – and not why the prospect chose to buy anything.

We’ve found that surveying prospects who ended up doing nothing can generate profound insights into why buying processes often stall or stop part-way through the cycle – and what vendors can do about it.

By paying particular attention to the circumstances under which the buying process was initiated – and understanding the trigger event that set the process going in the first place – vendors can learn a great deal about how momentum is created and maintained in the buying process…

…And armed with better insights into what commonly causes prospects to abandon the exercise, vendors can put themselves in a much better position to develop sales tools and coach sales people to help sustain the buying momentum.

Last, but not least, if you want accurate, unbiased feedback, please don’t ask the sales person – or anyone with a direct vested interest to complete the win/loss/no decision report. We’ve proved time after time that conducting these reports from an independent perspective creates true insight rather than CYA behaviour.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Bob: As you point out, many companies focus on Win/Loss reviews, and the “no decision” activities fall into the cracks–because for some companies, the sales opportunity is still considered open! In any case, the overarching question asked is “Why did we win (or lose)?”

    But sometimes, asking this question misses important insight.

    After Event Reviews examine different questions: What was the actual outcome? What was the planned (or expected) outcome? What contributed to the gap? What must we change? Who needs to know? How do we communicate the changes?

    I have conducted several of these for clients, and have found that After Event Reviews take a fundamentally different approach to sales problem solving compared to traditional win/loss reviews. For example, I can win a sales opportunity for $1 million, but if I forecast it at $1.5 million, I have a gap–and I need to understand the causes. If that same opportunity is examined through the lens of a win/loss review, I might not uncover what contributed to the $500,000 revenue shortfall because I only looked at the opportunity as a win.

    As you point out, in order to derive any value from these projects, companies need to have complete candor, not a rubber-stamped report designed to prove why Stephan is an incompetent salesperson. The flip-side of that candor is that senior managers must have enough self-esteem to own up to a problem–if it’s discovered that it’s one they created.

    –AR

  2. Additional value can be gained by integrating win-loss data with other sources of voice of the customer (VOC). So often VOC is seen narrowly as surveys or advisory boards or user groups. Frequently, it’s used as input only for new product development or campaigns or bonuses. Often, the constructive criticism obtained through various VOC mechanisms, including win-loss analysis, is largely ignored or channeled narrowly to a department for consideration or action. What if visibility widened, corrective tools were readily available, and many functional areas within the enterprise were actively engaged in turning win-loss and other constructive feedback into plusses for the company? The companies doing this are reaping significant financial benefits.

    Lynn Hunsaker, http://www.ClearAction.biz, ClearAction mentors executives for customer profitability through advocacy and churn/hassle prevention.

  3. Firms should not only manage processes, but also evaluate processes. Analyzing what went wrong/right during the process elicits more knowledge than knowing why went wrong/right in the end.

    Daryl Choy
    Make Little Things Count
    wisdomboom.blogspot.com

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