4 Steps to Plan for Successful Win Loss Interviews

I am in the planning stages of a win loss analysis project and in the spirit of cooperative intelligence will share why many of these endeavors don’t shed much light and never really get off the ground. One reason is the person conducting the win or loss interview does not have all the material s/he needs before conducting the interviews. Often people ask me for the template that I use when conducting the interviews. While that’s important, I find that people will tell me what they know once I get to interview them. The real challenge is convincing them to take the time for the interview in the first place!

What you need to get in the door:

 #1 Basic Sales Intelligence about the situation for each person/company you will be interviewing. At a minimum, I like to have:

The Company’s Name I will be interviewing

The Customer’s Name(s) (I like to get two or three if possible and let the customer decide who has time for this interview.)

Customer’s Title

Customer’s Contact Information: Phone number AND email address

Account Rep’s Name

How Long with the Company

Annual Revenue from theSale

Approximate Date of the Sales Decision

Win, Loss or Undecided

If Win, check what applies: Incumbent, Win back, Win with Competition, Win with little competition, Customer testimonial already

If Loss, check what applies: Was previously a customer, Was Never a Customer. Loss to ______ fill in the name of the Winner

All competitors whether win, loss or undecided

Deal Summary (Share the relevant details around the win or loss including the key challenges.)

Specific to the industry or customer. I will create categories of “customer” based on what marketing tells me, so sales can just check that off. I want to make this as easy as I can for Sales.

#2 A good value proposition as to why the customer or prospect wants to talk to you that you will either tell them over the phone or email to them in advance of a phone call to schedule a convenient time to connect.

#3 Flexibility on time and communication for the feedback you need on the win or loss situation. This is the real challenge today. So many people are doing the work of 4 people that they simply don’t have time. Some have that 15-20 minutes that you need to go over a survey and also allow them to simply tell you the real reasons why you won or loss and share precious nuggets about their business and the competitors. Others don’t, so you need to be creative about letting them tell you their story. Sometimes it’s useful to let them tell you some hard hitting information via email and then have a 10 minute call.  Somehow this isn’t as painful to them. Ironically it would probably take less of their time to give you a 20 minute call since email does take time to compose but somehow it often isn’t perceived that way.

#4 Research the companies and the people that you will be interviewing. In yesteryear I spoke to Sales to get this information. Now Sales doesn’t have time to talk to me in most situations, so I check out LinkedIn and other social networks to get an idea of how that person I need to connect with will be motivated to share based on their communication style. This is a good use of time since you can customize your communication based on this intelligence and this really opens up sharing. If you don’t know the company, check out their site so you can appreciate what they do.

So, I have shared the start to my win/loss projects, what do you have to add?

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3 thoughts on “4 Steps to Plan for Successful Win Loss Interviews”

  1. I’ve just completed a win-loss project. One problem was getting contact details and a time to speak to both wins and losses – as our client never dealt with their customers in person or often even on the phone.

    They gave us a list of 400 wins and losses – our job was to try and understand why they had more losses than wins. The first step was to send out a win-loss questionnaire (using SurveyMonkey) to all the 400 names. We got a 15% response rate that gave tons of information plus agreement for us to call up and follow-up with around a third of these. The follow-ups gave even more information.

    Where we went wrong is that there were areas our client didn’t know about which came out in the interviews. If we’d known this, we’d have added it to the questionnaire – and gathered more conclusive data. As it is, we got a pretty good idea of where some of the problems were. Now the job is for our client to correct those problems – which won’t be easy as some clients (e.g. wins) loved the aspects that others hated (losses). It’s not going to be easy to change the service so that all groups are happy. However that’s not our problem. We gave the intelligence. Now it’s the client’s job to use it.

    The lesson is that sometimes there are factors that the client doesn’t know about that you discover during the process. These can be crucial and provide the real intelligence.

  2. This sounds like B to C. I bet they really appreciated the insight that you discovered that they had no idea about. I suggest that you need to call to probe more deeply as to why customers like a certain aspect that prospects hated. I imagine that will render a deeper level of insight as well. Or it could be that they will have to accept a certain level of losses based on that particular aspect, as long as more of the potential and existing customer base likes that aspect, and thus it grows.

    My latest is B to B and there is a Sales Rep assigned to each customer that I contact and the sales all happened this year. This a complex sale and takes a while to negotiate. Even so, I find that some are not positioned with the right person, and I have to find the right person, which is easy enough thanks to LinkedIn. Then I ask the junior person if I have located the right decision-maker(s), That’s been my surprise so far, since I would think that in a complex “in-person” sale, where there are proposals and presentations that you would know all the players at the company you are selling to!

  3. I forgot another really important issue. Make sure that the Loss is truly a loss, not a prospect that the sales people can’t reach. In a recent case, I took this for granted and a goodly number of losses were cases when the account rep didn’t get much past the qualifying questions before the customer stopped communicating. These customers aren’t connected enough to your company if they won’t even let you submit a proposal, so they probably aren’t going to have such insightful comments. Well, they might, but they will often be less willing to talk to you, and they don’t really know enough about your product, pricing, professionalism etc. if they closed you out prematurely in the sales process. I would rather invest my time with customers where I won or lost the business, and submitted a proposal, gave a presentation and then the customer decided.

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