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How Win Loss Analysis Helps Improve The Customer Experience 

Sue Duris | Aug 7, 2017 512 views 1 Comment

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Customer Experience (CX) responsibility does not lie in one group, rather it is an all-encompassing organizational endeavor.

The best way to ensure a sound CX program is when companies take a cross-functional team approach.

Sales is a key part of that cross-functional team approach.

Sales contributes to CX in two very important ways.

First, Sales communicates with customers at various touch points of the customer journey, bringing back information from the field that hopefully includes actionable insights that can be implemented into processes that will improve the overall experience.

Second, Sales participates – or should – in what is known as Win Loss Analysis.

Many view Win Loss Analysis as a technique that provides the definitive reason(s) why a sale was won or lost. Unfortunately, many companies stop there, take the reasons at face value, and don’t investigate what is behind those reasons.

Many organizations don’t have a formal Win Loss program. In 2008, Pragmatic Marketing noted that less than 20% of organizations had one. In Fletcher/CSI’s 2017 Win Loss Analysis survey, 55% of respondents said they had an active Win Loss program. Yet, only 26% considered it effective. Not much has changed.



The biggest cause of failure is that organizations don’t conduct win loss analysis with purpose.

They don’t compile data to be able to determine actionable insights to generate outcomes that will improve the business, mainly because Sales tends to conduct Win Loss Analysis without input from non-sales parts of the organization. Sales concludes the reasons for win or loss are absolute, records reason(s) for the win or loss on a spreadsheet, communicates the result, and everyone moves on from there to the next sales opportunity.

This sets up a lot of false positives on the true health of the organization.

If organizations viewed Win Loss Analysis with purpose, they could align sales with marketing, align the business to what customers need and want, and create an experience that could differentiate itself from the competition. And, the outcome would be deeper customer relationships and improved corporate growth.

Win Loss Analysis as an important component of the entire CX engine. Like CX, the key to a successful Win Loss rests on the ability to dig deep.

Organizations need to identify what is happening and why to be able to extract actionable insights from the data and implement them so they can optimize business processes.

Win Loss is an opportunity to make the experience better for customers and generate growth for the organization.

In fact, implementing an effective Win Loss program can lift win rates by as much as 50% .

Win Loss provides insights on:

-How sales and marketing can better align
-How to fine-tune your SWOT analysis
-Whether your messaging is on track
-How you are perceived in the marketplace
-How your competition is perceived in the marketplace
-What influences buyers and customer’s purchasing decisions
-How your value proposition aligns with the needs and wants of buyers and customers
-What the buying cycle is and whether you are targeting the right decision makers
-How well you differentiate yourself from the competition
-How your competition differentiates themselves from you
-What buyers and customers are really interested in when selecting your or similar products and services
-How well your end-to-end sales and operational processes are working

Let’s discuss how organizations can conduct Win Loss Analysis with purpose.

1. Be crystal clear on the purpose for Win Loss Analysis.

Why is Win Loss Analysis important to you? How can Win Loss help you meet your corporate goals? If you want to change and put the effort in to do so, you will be successful. Woody Allen famously said that 80% of success is showing up. But you have to show up and be ready to work.

2. Establish C-Suite buy-in at the onset.

Like CX, Win Loss Analysis, to be successful, must be driven by the C-Suite.

It’s best if a member of the C-Suite is championing this effort and the Chief Sales Officer is on board. To get to that point, you may have to prove Win Loss’s worth first by showing examples of companies who implemented a Win Loss analysis program and how it helped them increase revenues.

Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), is an advocate of win loss analysis. In fact, she credits it in HPE’s turnaround strategy.

3. Create a sound strategy.

It’s not enough to have purpose and executive buy in. You must create and implement an effective Win Loss strategy. And you want it to be flexible enough so you can make changes to improve its performance.

Win Loss Analysis strategy has three parts – the Pre-Interview, Interview, and Post-Interview.

A. The Pre-Interview

Conduct a pre-interview strategy session with sales, marketing, product, customer service, the highest-ranking salesperson and any other key stakeholders, after the sales opportunity has been clearly won or lost.

This should be a collaborative process with all stakeholders contributing in the session. This is the part of the program where you frame the entire Win Loss analysis process and determine the interview format and the questions to be asked.

-Decide Who Will Conduct the interview

While third-party interviews will typically provide the most unbiased, in-depth information since prospects and customers are more comfortable in sharing information with third-party sources, your company can conduct the interview. If you choose to go that route, ensure that non-sales personnel conduct the interview.

-Determine the questions to be asked

Questions should cover every aspect and touch every point of the sales opportunity. Get the sales team’s input as to the background, including how the company got involved in the proposal, the type of relationship they had/have with the customer/prospect, sales processes involved, the problem that was trying to be solved, products or solutions used to close the sale, how they felt the prospect/customer reacted to each phase of the sales cycle, the result, and whether they anticipated this result. Sales can also provide information as to appropriate customer/prospect personnel to be interviewed.

-Determine the logistics of the interview

Interviews typically run approximately 30 minutes and occur over the phone.

-Schedule the interview with the customer/prospect

Schedule interviews after the sale was clearly won or lost (no longer than three months). Let them know in advance the topics you plan to discuss.

B. The Interview

If you are using a third-party, they will conduct the interview. If you are conducting the interview, make sure you have a script of everything you plan to say/ask in the interview (which you should create prior to the interview). This will enable you to spend more time taking notes.

For starters, introduce yourself and thank the prospect/customer for their time. Explain that the purpose of the interview is to learn as much as possible about their perceptions and experience during the recent sales process so your organization can continue to improve.

Discuss confidentiality with the prospect/customer, stating that while you want to communicate feedback throughout your organization, the prospect/customer should identify any sensitive aspects during the course of the conversation.

Thank the customer/prospect and provide them with your contact information should they want to add anything at a later date.

C. The Post-Interview

The post-interview phase is the most important element of the Win Loss analysis process.

During this phase, you will gain actionable insights on how to improve your processes, and as a result, better achieve organizational growth. Keep in mind, though, gaining actionable insights is only part of the picture.

The other part is stakeholders’ willingness to embrace change and work together to create and implement a plan to put these insights into action. That is no small task and anything but a given.

When done in concert, these two activities will lead to improved sales and marketing efforts and increased revenues.

–Thank Customers/Prospects for their time

This touch point sends a message that you care about and value the customer/prospect experience. Creating a wonderful experience for prospects and customers should be top of mind.

The result is the prospect will view you as an organization that understands relationship building, and they may be willing to do business with you in the future or at least recommend you to others.

The customer will view you as someone committed to their success by adding value every step of the way. And, they will want to keep doing business with you. After all, your goal is to build lifetime customers and brand advocates!

–Analyze and Report Key Insights

In your report, include insights on:

Perception: What was the buyer’s perception of the company prior to initial contact and did it change after the close of the opportunity? If perceptions changed during the course of the opportunity, how did they change?

Opportunity: Was it the right fit for this buyer? Did the buyer perceive this opportunity was of value to them?

Buying Process: What did the buyer’s end-to-end decision-making process look like? Was the buyer’s decision-making process in line with your perceptions of the buyer journey? What messaging resonated with the buyer or what messaging lost the buyer? What events caused the buyer to take specific actions? How did the buyer feel about the nurturing process? Did they feel you invested ample time and care to get to know them and address their specific need(s)? What specific actions resulted in the win or loss?

Competitive Environment: Which of your competitors were included in the decision-making process? What specific strengths/weaknesses of your competitors were identified? How did you match up against your competition?
Recommendations/Insights: What specific insights did the buyer provide about your company, the opportunity, and how you did/didn’t meet their need? What recommendations for improvement did the buyer share?

–Conduct a Debriefing Meeting

Discuss the specific opportunity and share key findings with your cross-functional team of stakeholders. This is the part of the program where you discuss and prioritize key actionable insights, and develop an action plan to implement them into your operational processes.

-Conduct Regular Win Loss Trends Meetings

Conduct a meeting to discuss trends with key stakeholders and members of the C-Suite. Win Loss over time will reveal key patterns and trends. You will be able to ascertain what factors result in a win or loss, and measure the success of the Win Loss program as well as overall sales and marketing performance. Conduct regular Win Loss trends meetings to ensure the company stays on track.

To improve CX, organizations must conduct win loss analysis with purpose.

The process is an investment and it takes time to be able to reap its rewards.

Companies should focus on what the wins and losses really are saying — they shouldn’t take either for granted — there are clear insights to be gained and the better they can see these insights and implement improvements to their processes, the more likely they are to succeed.

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One Response to How Win Loss Analysis Helps Improve The Customer Experience

  1. Andrew Rudin August 7, 2017 at 6:56 am (244 comments) #

    Hi Sue: great points. I think there are many reasons companies don’t engage in reviewing past events. Sometimes, opinions are firmly established about “who screwed up” or “why we won.” Other times, as you mention, company culture discourages people from dwelling on past mistakes or “things that can’t be changed.”

    In general, I find the premise for Win/Loss is flawed. Executives want to know “why did we lose or win?” This is not the right question, because many times, “wins” are not clearly wins (e.g. “I rue the day we signed this order with Client X!), and “losses” are not clearly losses. (“Although we weren’t selected as prime contractor, by competing on this project, we were able to gain crucial knowledge for future DoD opportunities . . . .”)

    For this reason, back in 2005, my company began to use After Event Reviews as a name for this project work. I have no bragging rights as the originator of this appellation. The US Military used it long before to evaluate performance. The rationale was (and is) that Win/Loss has already distorted the lens of what should be a fully objective examination of an activity.

    When I created the parameters for such projects, I borrowed the parlance down to the fundamental questions asked in these reviews, which extend nicely into business:

    1. What was the intended outcome?
    2. What actually happened?
    3. What was learned?
    4. What do we do now?
    5. Who should we tell?
    6. How do we tell them?

    As you can see from Steps 4-6, the approach emphasizes what to do with the knowledge as much as how to acquire it.

    The analytical approach is detailed in an article I wrote a few years ago, Why Competitors Love Ostrich Rivals http://contrarydomino.com/2013/12/why-competitors-love-ostrich-rivals/

    By using this approach along with the questions you have asked in this article, companies have a repeatable way to capitalize on the knowledge gained from their past experiences.

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