Boost Your Win/Loss Program with Answers to 5 Questions

Last week, I gave a webinar for the Minnesota SCIP chapter entitled, Win/Loss Analysis: How to Capture and Keep the Business You Want. It was moderated by Michelle Winter of SCIP and Julie Johnson, Minnesota SCIP chapter leader. Check out my Win/Loss presentations to help boost your Win/loss program from my Slideshare presentations.

Boost Your Win Loss Program

There were 5 questions at the conclusion of my talk:

  1. How do you find out about your consumers, when you sell through distributors?

This company was in the medical field. You would conduct Win/Loss interviews with your distributors, who are doctors, very busy people. They also won’t give a Win/Loss interview for free. Another idea in this space is to hold focus groups. They could be in-person when you have a cluster of doctors who work close by each other. Or you could hold a digital focus group using Zoom or similar technology. Again, doctors and most medical professionals will not participate for free.

I like the idea of a focus group to get the doctors talking about why they do/don’t recommend your company’s medical product over a competitor’s. They will often enough egg each other on, and you will hear some great stories and gain some competitive intelligence. Sometimes, we get customer testimonials from these interviews or focus groups.

  1. How favorable are you to Win/Loss on-line surveys that are sent to new customers or to old customers that are no longer doing business with you?

People are tired of being surveyed. Everything is surveyed these days from an interaction with a bank teller depositing your check, cashing a check, or from cashiers in grocery stores who scan your items and take your money. I can understand why a postal clerk might survey patrons when they have provided a service beyond just taking your money in exchange for goods. The same is true of your relationship with B to B customers.

You can get some useful information from people doing an on-line survey, if enough people take it. Keep the survey short: no more than 5 minutes. Let people know this before they take the survey. Tell them why you’re conducting the survey, and offer a potential prize like being put into a raffle for Amazon gift certificates.

Develop a value proposition that will entice them to take the survey. Experiment with several value propositions, and figure out the one that draws best, usually a different one for new or repeat customers versus those you lost. Also, develop and experiment with good email survey titles to get them to open up your email about the survey.

You will never get the in-depth information that you get from half hour Win/Loss conversations from an on-line survey. They do not replace in-depth conversations! But you will often get some reasons why people took the action they did, what product features they do/don’t like, and with any luck, the competition they considered whether win or loss. You’ll want to create a different survey for wins and losses to maximize the data you collect.

  1. In your reporting, do you distinguish between Win/Loss reasons and general strengths and weaknesses of the solution?

I like to let clients know all the reasons they win and lose deals from the customer’s point of view. Usually there are 5 major reasons why companies win or lose deals. That is the essence of Win/Loss.

If those I interview share strengths or weaknesses of the product or service, I consider that a bonus, and will always include this data in the analysis. Let’s take the example of a product weakness that’s shared. This might provide key intelligence the customer needs to correct or develop. Perhaps the customer lost some other business due to this weakness or weren’t even included as a contender due to that specific product weakness. I’ll probe to find out more. Often, I’ll find out which competitor(s) offers this feature, how it works, and more.

Even if no other interviewee mentions this weakness, I’ll include it in the analysis. I figure if the interviewee is willing to share a nugget that you didn’t ask about, it’s likely to be an issue the customer really cares about.

  1. Have you heard of win/loss utilized in the nonprofit industry – either with donors to understand their motivations for major philanthropic gifts or in house (ex-prospect development researchers to assess if their research about wealth/affinity was a Win/Loss for the development officer)

Yes, this is important, since you want to understand what motivates donors to give or not. Ideally, I like to find out as much as I can about the person I will talk to before having that conversation. My hope is to create a donor profile and to develop donor personas to target for gift giving from Win/Loss interviews and analysis. While the nonprofit might have donor personas, we can enrich them from these in-depth Win/Loss interviews and analysis.

  1. You mentioned interviewing customers and sales teams. Would you recommend also interviewing suppliers and any other influencers in the value chain who also serve as competitors?

That is a great idea since suppliers also sell their goods to competitors, in addition to potentially becoming competitors. Indirect sales teams also market competitor’s products/services, and can be a similar informer as a supplier since they often have direct interaction with your competitor’s products/services. I like to interview suppliers to get an idea of competitor’s supply chain cost as well.

OK, shameless plug, you’ll boost your Win/Loss program even more by reading my book, Win/Loss Analysis: How to Capture and Keep the Business You Want.

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Opportunities and Threats from Conducting Win/Loss Analysis

This is our third blog of the widely used SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to assess the value of Win/Loss analysis. Strengths (Blog 1) are HERE and Weaknesses (Blog 2) are HERE. This blog outlines the opportunities and threats of Win Loss analysis.

win/loss analysis


Win/Loss Interviews Provide Deep Insight

In our digital age, these in-depth conversations are a rare opportunity for a personal connection with your customers and those who choose a competitor. Your customers and prospects share the detail and motivation about how decisions are made. Win/Loss analysis from these conversations give you the ammunition to further develop your buying personas.

Win/Loss Analysis a 360 Degree Assessment of Your Company

The opportunities for learning from Win/Loss are as great as your imagination for capturing customer information coupled with how good the interviewer is at probing and pulling out valuable tidbits and trends from these customer conversations. For example, you can learn how prospects find your company. You don’t just learn about your sales process, but also where and how to provide better information about your company’s reputation, products and customer service in places where potential customers are shopping for solutions before they call your sales force. Win/Loss results often indicate how to be considered for more business.

Win/Loss Analysis Doesn’t Just Help Wins

Probably the most profitable opportunity is customer retention as you uncover opportunities to sell more products and services to your customer base by making improvements to your existing product line, sales process, and overall professionalism.

If No Win/Loss Analysis, Blind Spots?

What opportunities might you be missing if you don’t conduct Win/Loss analysis? What critical thinking will your miss out on since you don’t get Win/Loss data from any other source? You can uncover revenue opportunities such as an unintended use of your product or new markets for your products that you hadn’t targeted where there is very little competition.

Long Term Benefits of Win/Loss Interviews and Analysis

Longer term, after you conduct several months or quarters of Win/Loss interviews and run the analyses, you will uncover more strategic opportunities from studying trends. Examples include revealing new alliance partners, new products, industry specific products, or marketing shortcomings.



Customers Might Be Uncomfortable with Win/Loss Interviews

The most immediate threat is customer relationships. Some customers don’t like to be interviewed. You may upset their relationship between your company and Sales. Be sensitive, and don’t pursue them.

The Wrong Person May be Conducting Interviews

Sometimes companies outsource Win/Loss interviews when an internal company interviewer would have better connected with their customers. In other cases, it’s just the opposite: an internal company interviewer makes customers nervous, so they withhold information. They would be more comfortable with a third-party interviewer.

The Interviewer Lacks Professionalism

Another threat can be the interviewer. If the interviewer is not professional–whether in-house or a third party–this can damage your company’s relationship with customers and prospects. Sometimes the interviewer is professional, but their chemistry is bad with your internal employees, customers and prospects. Sometimes the interviewer interferes with a sale in progress due to miscommunication about timing the interview.

Win/Loss May Threaten Sales People

The Internet and social media have boosted buyer’s knowledge tremendously in the last ten years. This has reduced Sales’ power in the buying decision as the prospect’s major knowledge source. This knowledge shift has threatened many in sales departments who want to hold on to the traditional way of selling, rather than adapting to a more cooperative, consultative relationship with prospects and clients. Win/Loss is another change, and they may not be open to it.

Win/Loss May Push Sales People to Leave

While this may be extreme: If your Sales Force is transactional and inflexible they might feel so threatened by the Win/Loss process that you’ll lose some good people.

Will Purchasing Dehumanization Extend to Win/Loss Interviews?

In a similar vein, the Win/Loss interview process itself may be threatened. According to the Gartner Group, by 2020, 85 percent of customers will manage all of their interactions with the enterprise without human-to-human contact. With the dehumanization of the purchase process, will this also extend to customers agreeing to take the time for Win/Loss interviews?

  • What is your company’s SWOT analysis for a Win/Loss program?
  • Is it a “go” or “no go” for your company? Why?

Learn more about competitive intelligence

Win/Loss Analysis book; Amazon link to Win/Loss Analysis book

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Happy Thanksgiving: 7 Win Loss Tips to Improve the Success of Your Program

Adopt these 7 Win Loss Tips to Improve Sales and Customer Receptivity to Win Loss interviews.

  1. Don’t Let Sales Conduct Your Company’s Win/Loss Interviews

Research from the book, “From a Good Sales Call to a Great Sales Call,” indicates:

  • Salesperson’s assessment is totally wrong — 32%
  • Salesperson just has part of the story — 28%
  • Salesperson’s understanding is complete/accurate — 40%

So, 60% of the time Sales doesn’t quite get it right. Don’t put the onus on them to conduct Win/Loss interviews. Don’t put them in this awkward position. Their customers don’t want to tell them the bad news. It’s just human nature. They will tell others in your company, and even more to a third party.

win loss tips

  1. Dealing with Pushback from Sales

Many companies tell me that they feel pushback from Sales, as we develop their Win/Loss program. Sales thinks that Win/Loss is totally an assessment of them. That’s only partially true, since it isn’t only Sales that you’re assessing. Ideally, it’s a 360 evaluation of your company which includes marketing in all its forms, your products and/or services, customer service, installation, maintenance, training, operations, and strategy.

So how do you get Sales to believe that they’re not the sole target? Involve them in creating the questions you’ll ask their customers. What would they like to know that they don’t? Once you’ve queried the other parts of the company mentioned above, share the questions you’ll be asking with Sales. They’ll see that only 15 – 20% apply to them.

  1. Involve Sales in the Win/Loss process

Before you call customers—whether a win or loss—contact Sales. Find out if there is anything else you should know, and that you’re reaching out to the best contacts at the company. Make sure that the timing of your call still works. Sometimes we learn that there was an issue with a sale, or that Sales is selling another solution, so the timing for our call is bad. I have had sales people tell me that the targeted company is no longer in business.

  1. Let Sales Know the Outcome of Win/Loss Calls

At the end of each call, I let Sales know how it went, and most importantly what action I recommend as a result of the conversation. One criticism of Win/Loss is the delay between the individual interviews, and receiving the final Win/Loss analysis report. This is one way to be immediately responsive. They don’t need the interview summary right away, but they do need the action items and why.

  1. Call Lost Business Sooner

People remember the facts about why they chose to do business with you when you WIN it. You can call them a little later, up to 6 months after the buying decision. Whereas, when they choose a competitor, they forget the facts about why they didn’t choose your company more quickly. After all, they are working with your competitor. It’s more important to get to lost business sooner, preferable within 3 – 4 months.

  1. Different Questions for Wins and Losses

Consider some different questions for losses. The issues aren’t the same as for Wins. You want to know why they didn’t select your company; why they selected another company; how happy they are with their selection; and if there is any way you could have won their business. Those are different questions.

You can ask more detailed questions about sales professionalism when you won than when you lost, unless it’s apparent that SALES is the reason you lost. It usually isn’t, but be open to this since sometimes it is!

  1. Be Sensitive to the Industry You’re Interviewing

How will they be most comfortable conversing with you? Some Win/Loss interviewers tell me they have the customer call in to a certain number. My people in construction would never agree to this. I need to instigate the call to their phone. They don’t do SKYPE or any social media like Hangouts or What’s App. Bottom line is you want them to be comfortable with how you connect.

Adopting these 7 win loss tips has helped my clients facilitate this squishy process.

Learn more about competitive intelligence

Win/Loss Analysis book; Amazon link to Win/Loss Analysis book

Join our mailing list and get our cheat sheets on “How to Build a World Class Win/Loss Program.”

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Improve Your CI Skill: Read Competitive Intelligence Rescue

Learn how to diagnose what needs to be fixed in your competitive intelligence program by reading Competitive Intelligence Rescue. Carolyn Vella and John McGonagle walk us through their experiences rescuing 7 companies in the case study format.

Competitive Intelligence Rescue

Case Studies Vary by Industry and Complexity

  • DIY (Do it yourself) competitive intelligence
  • Adding primary research capabilities
  • Defending against your competitors’ intelligence activities
  • Creating and staffing a new CI team

The case studies include conversations with the various stakeholders with Carolyn and John, as they go through the CI rescue process. As a reader, you can crawl into this process.

Competitive Intelligence Rescue: Diagnostic Quiz

Carolyn and John have developed some first and second level diagnostic questions aka “diagnostic quiz” to pinpoint the issues that need to be fixed. They are so methodical from their many years as CI professionals. If you follow this diagnostic quiz process, you won’t miss issues, such as CI training and ethics/legal that are often blind spots in CI program development and assessment. They also account for a company’s culture and politics in the diagnostic quiz through the process of addressing the issues. They check back with each client a year or so later to measure progress and analyze results.

Competitive Intelligence Rescue: My Favorite Diagnostic Quiz Questions

  • Do you really know the CI issues…or just assuming them…relying on past, old data, not on current data?
  • What were the real problems? Why are they different from what the company said they were?
  • Is senior management willing to hear things that they might not want to hear from the CI team or individual?
  • Are your competitors doing CI? How effectively?

Competitive Intelligence Rescue: Definitions, Processes and Tips Lists

Not only do you get some behind the scenes intelligence, you also get precious processes and tip lists that any CI professional would value.

  • Key competitive intelligence definitions, especially how it’s not market research
  • Creating an early warning system
  • Creating a mission statement for the CI group
  • Strategic intelligence team skillsets
  • Tips for DIYers (p. 71)
  • Defining and protecting your Competitive Sensitive Data
  • Working a trade show or conference
  • Screening/checklist for non-US CI providers
  • 20 rules doing CI research off the Internet (includes social media)
  • Elicitation definition and techniques to improve primary collection skill

The authors also provide a link to their suggested list of competitive intelligence books

Competitive Intelligence Rescue: My Favorite Closing Remark

“Never assume what you are told or what you want to believe, is correct…people do not fully understand their own problems…even that they have problems. Dig deeper: look, do not just listen—verify.”

A must read for any CI professional or manager who wants to learn a process to improve some aspect of their competitive intelligence program.


Learn more about competitive intelligence

Win/Loss Analysis book; Amazon link to Win/Loss Analysis book

Join our mailing list and get our cheat sheets on “How to Build a World Class Win/Loss Program.”

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Conflict Resolution: Know Your Hot Buttons & Be Aware of Other’s!

My father was failing as I wrote this blog. As I ponder his life, I recall what a great attorney he was, and how he could chew right through conflict. Case in point: he started his legal career defending Japanese war criminals after WWII.

I had the good fortune to read Hot Buttons: How to Resolve Conflict and Cool Everyone Down by Sybil Evans and Sherry Suib Cohen.

The mind and the body are twins. Poet Algernon Swinburne

What happens in your mind and spirit gets to your stomach and your heart.

Know Your Hot ButtonsKnow Your Hot Buttons

A Hot Button is an emotional trigger, and when someone pushes one of your hot buttons, you know it since it make you a little crazy. Self awareness of what makes you crazy and an awareness of others’ hot buttons—is very useful in business. It is important to know your conflict style. Before you can diffuse your hot buttons you must be clear about what inflames them. This sounds a lot like emotional intelligence to me!

Know Your Hot Buttons: Conflict Resolution Style

  • Avoider – Make “it go away” is the goal when conflict intrudes your life
  • Slash-and-Burn – Tough guy who is “in-your-face”
  • Peace at all Costs – Harmony is the goal here
  • Problem Solver – No problem is insurmountable if you work at it
  • Exploder – Into high drama, emotional and demonstrative

This bleeds right into cooperative intelligence’s leadership, connection and communication.

  • Leadership – Good leaders are self-aware and observant enough to notice what triggers other’s hot buttons.
  • Connection – This sensitivity helps develop trusting and lasting relationships.
  • Communication – Hot button awareness helps us be better observers, listeners and communicators.

Know Your Hot Buttons: 5 Steps to Resolve Conflicts

  1. Watch the Play – as though you’re the audience, not a participant. “Watch & play” creates a mental attitude of detachment and objectivity.
  2. Confirm – the validity of the other person’s anger. You let them know you’re ready to listen.
  3. Get more Info – by asking open-ended Questions.
  4. Assert your own interests and needs. Note: this is step 4 after you have calmed down and listened to the other guy’s point of view. Now he is likely to listen to you.
  5. Find common ground – for a solution with a problem-solving approach.

Tips from This Book to Avoid Conflicts

  1. People’s beliefs are not always what you assume they are. When you think people make wrong assumptions, it can push your hot buttons.
  2. Empathy is a great hot button diffuser since it acknowledges the other person’s feelings. This takes your mind off your own feelings and allows you to creep into someone else’s. This is calming during a conflict.
  3. Ask questions – Questions help you learn more about the other guy’s feelings, and give you time to cool down, if you’re angry.
  4. Paraphrase – By restating I can make sure I heard exactly what my partner meant me to hear. Paraphrasing also lets the other guy know I am listening, a key ingredient to conflict resolution.

Here are two books I recommend which are in a similar vein:

Learn more about competitive intelligence

Win/Loss Analysis bookAmazon link to Win/Loss Analysis book

Join our mailing list and get our cheat sheets on “How to Build a World Class Win/Loss Program.”

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Blogging about Competitive Intelligence from #SCIP09 in Chicago

I was blogging about competitive intelligence at SCIP’s 2009 annual conference in Chicago. SCIP always provides attendees longer learning opportunities at pre-conference sessions that are a half or full day.

SCIPblogging about competitive intelligence gives attendees a detailed program including the names and bios of all the presenting speakers, their session topic which includes a brief description.  In 2009, attendees received a CD-ROM of all the presentation proceedings. (I still have these presentations since many of them still apply.)

Here are the 10 Things I did at SCIP09:

1. I met my SCIP friends and many new people, including some of you on the Competitive Intelligence Ning who I had only met electronically (I notice the CI Ning is not as popular today as it was in 2009. More of us meet electronically on LinkedIn or Twitter.)

2. I looked forward to Robert Bugai’s talk on “Meet the Press” since the journalistic perspective of probing and interviewing has always interested me. (I was disappointed that he was unable to attend the conference.)

3. I attended Bill Fiora’s active dialog on “Are we in a Rut?” This is always a popular topic, and I surmised that this would be a great Competitive Intelligence Magazine article.

4. I enjoyed Roger Phelps’ and Suki Fuller’s active dialog session on “Social Networking & Its Role in CI.” Since then, Roger has retired, and Suki has relocated to the UK, but is still in competitive intelligence.

5. Due to my interest in win/loss analysis, I enjoyed hearing Lisa Hicks talk about “Sharpen Your Sales Results with Win/Loss Analysis Best Practices.” Since then I have written a book entitled, Win/Loss Analysis: How to Capture and Keep the Business You Want by Park Hill Press.

6. I liked Eric Garland’s talk on “Keeping Positive: Using Competitive Intelligence to Find New Business Opportunities.” I prefer using competitive intelligence to dig up new marketing opportunities versus the “I spy” version of competitive intelligence.

7. I spent some time exploring the Exhibit Floor, and my focus was competitive intelligence software providers like Strategy Software, Comintelli, Digimind, Cipher, QL2 and Traction.

8. I always look forward to our WLC (Women’s Leadership Council) cocktail party at SCIP conferences. It has become more of a global event since 2009, when most all the ladies were from the US.

9. I didn’t exhibit in 2009, actually haven’t since 2006 since it’s too hard on my body to spend all that time standing at my booth.

10. I gave two presentations.

  • Build a Sustainable Early Warning Process through Cooperative Intelligence (article)
  • Capture Competitive Intelligence from Sales & Customers to Drive Lucrative Product Development (article)

Learn more about competitive intelligence

Win/Loss Analysis bookAmazon link to Win/Loss Analysis book

Join our mailing list and get our cheat sheets on “How to Build a World Class Win/Loss Program.”

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Read up on Social Networks: Integrating Competitive Intelligence into Marketing: Part 3

In 2 earlier posts I shared book lists we used to supplement our AMA (American Marketing Association) workshop on Integrating Competitive Intelligence into Marketing. In the cooperative spirit, today’s post provides books and blogs to help you read up on social networks.  A targeted social media strategy is a strong and essential ingredient to any research project!

read up on social networksRead up on Social Networks: Some Classics

One of the classics on social networks is Virtual Handshake by social networking gurus David Teten and Scott Allen. This book is somewhat dated, but I like how it gets you thinking about developing a strategy around social networking and rolling out your program.  It’s pre-Twitter, so if you’re looking to learn more about Twitter consider Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time by Joel Comm, and Twitter Revolution: How Social Media and Mobile Marketing is Changing the Way We Do Business & Market Online by Warren Whitlock and Deborah Micek.

Another golden oldie is Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.

Read Up on Social Networks: LinkedIn

My favorite book on LinkedIn is: I’m on LinkedIn–Now What??? (Third Edition): A Guide to Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn by Jason Alba. I read the first edition in 2007, and the third edition was just released in Jan. 2009. Another more recent LinkedIn book: The Power Formula for Linkedin Success (third edition): Kickstart Your Business, Brand and Job Search by Wayne Breitbarth.

Read up on Social Networks: Top Sellers

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly (2017) by David Meerman Scott. Another popular David Meerman Scott book is World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories.

Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day by Dave Evans

Read up On Social Networks: YouTube and Blogs

I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend a book on YouTube:

YouTube for Business: Online Video Marketing for Any Business (second edition)
by Michael Miller

Social networks are changing so rapidly so I suggest you follow blogs to stay up on the latest.  All these authors have blogs.  In addition I recommend Chris Brogan’s, Hubspot and Duct Tape Marketing.

Happy Reading!

Learn more about competitive intelligence

Win/Loss Analysis bookAmazon link to Win/Loss Analysis book

Join our mailing list and get our cheat sheets on “How to Build a World Class Win/Loss Program.”

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Trick or Tweet: 14 Ways to Alienate Twitter Followers

This is a follow-up to “Netiquette on LinkedIn.” In the spirit of cooperative intelligence, I will illustrate how to be cooperative by sharing examples of bad Twitter communication practices that alienate Twitter followers.
alienate twitter followers

14 ways to alienate Twitter followers

1. Advertise your blog posts and everything about your business with every Tweet. It’s OK to send a person to your blogs as you publish, but it is tacky to repeat and/or re-tweet (repeat your Tweets) about your business continuously. I like the 80:20 rule–80% of my Tweets are about others; 20% about me.

2. Don’t share anything about yourself in your profile. That’s a way to discourage people from following you. People are curious about who you are: tell them and be human about it. I include a link to my LinkedIn profile, and got that idea by looking at a colleague’s profile.

3. Don’t have a picture or brand by your name. That’s an opportunity lost for branding. It’s so much more interesting to see someone’s picture next to their Tweet rather than the ugly, brown default space.

4. Don’t use your Tweets as a chat room. Some people are really just Tweeting to each other. Send that person a direct Tweet. The rest of us feel left out and don’t want to be a part of your personal conversation.

5. Don’t publicly berate anyone in your Tweets. Remember your manners.

6. Twitter is not a megaphone for one way communication. Engage your followers by sharing information you think they will appreciate and ask them questions.

7. Set up a robot to send a standard message thanking people for following you on Twitter. I find this insulting. I would rather get no message than a robotic one.

8. Mass following everyone so you can inflate your numbers, and then use that success metric for influence. Some people will “Brag Tweet” that they just got over 100 followers in a 24 hour period. We followers don’t care! Think about how this makes your followers feel–not very special.

9. Some people argue that you should automatically follow everyone who follows you on Twitter. I think it depends on your goals. I am not in Twitter for the numbers game. I would like to get to know the people who follow me, gradually. For example I am not a huge sports fan or into pumping iron, but somehow I am being followed by these types. BTW, Tweet Deck lets you organize those who follow you in categories that you create. For example, I create separate columns for Tweets from my personal friends, my research and competitive intelligence colleagues, friends in Colorado, and frequent Tweeters. Lately I prefer Hootsuite, but was disappointed when LinkedIn no longer allowed us to post on LinkedIn groupsjust to our LinkedIn individual or LinkedIn business accounts.

10. Some people Tweet so often that they fill up their followers’ screens with their Tweets. It’s obvious they’re using software, such as Tweetdeck, Buffer or Hootsuite  to stream out Tweets 24/7. I’m not knocking the use of technology: just don’t use it to abuse us! I think it’s better to send out occasional Tweets that are relevant to your social networking goals and the brand you are portraying. For example, I mostly report on competitive intelligence, market opportunity analysis, win/loss analysis, elicitation, and cooperative intelligence’s traits of leadership, connection and communication.

11. Some people Tweet the mundane details about their life which we really don’t care about like, “I just baked a loaf of bread. I’m waiting for my flight at Denver airport.” This is boring! Is this how you want to be remembered?

12. There are some people who have 1000’s of followers, but who follow no one. This is rude and insinuates that you are a taker. The only exception to this rule might be news stations like CNN, but even they want to follow a certain number of people to stay up with the news.

13. Some people just Tweet a link and don’t tell us why we should want to visit it. This takes very little time to include. It’s a real turnoff just to provide a link and makes people think you’re lazy.

14. Some people don’t Tweet. Yet they expect you to follow them. What? Why?

So what do you find aggravating about practices on Twitter?

Check out The Dark Side of Twitter: What Businesses Need to Know.

Building Relationships on Social Media Takes Time Too

In closing, when communicating on social networks, as with in-person networking you have to decide what works best for you based on your objectives for social networking, your ethics and philosophy. Recognize that everyone you connect with has their own standards which might be different from yours. It takes time to build a successful social networking presence just like it does the old fashioned way through meetings and phone calls. Relationships take time to develop, and the best way to nourish them is through continual, consistent communication, asking questions and listening.

Learn more about competitive intelligence

Win/Loss Analysis bookAmazon link to Win/Loss Analysis book

Join our mailing list and get our cheat sheets on “How to Build a World Class Win/Loss Program.”

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Win/Loss Analysis: Weaknesses – SWOT #2

This is the second article on the SWOT of win/loss, which focuses on Win/Loss analysis Weakness of this analytic tool. Many of the weaknesses can be found in the execution of Win/Loss analysis.

win/loss analysis weakness

Timing of the Win/Loss Analysis Process

Since the Win/Loss interviewing process takes place after the buying decision has been made, some argue it is of limited value. If you have lost the business, it’s too late to reverse the customer’s decision to go with another service provider. So why bother asking them?

An interview and customer relationship management has better results to affect the sales outcome before the buying decision is made. It takes time to conduct these interviews and the analysis. Is your time better spent doing other forms of customer outreach and analysis?

Another Win/Loss analysis weakness can be the timing of interviews. If you delay the customer interviews for too long, they won’t recall the details of why and how they made their buying decision.  This is particularly true when you interview business that you’ve lost. The companies are working with another provider, and will soon forget why they didn’t select your company’s solution.

Win/Loss Analysis Weakness: Organization

Win/Loss is a very organized process, and if any of the knowledge or steps are missing, the interviews will be less effective.

What might be missing?

  • Relevant customer data from Sales which causes the interviewer to waste the customer’s time asking questions about basic account facts that the customer expects your interviewer to know beforehand.
  • Inadequate information for the interviewer on the company’s products, services, sales process, market issues and the competition.
    • If they don’t know the market well enough, they will lack the knowledge to probe beyond what’s in the Interview Guide.

Inexperienced Win/Loss Analysis Interviewers

The interviewer may be too inexperienced to have the confidence to ask questions outside those in the Win/Loss Interview Guide, thereby missing some key information that the customer might have been willing to share. Some interviewers are so analytical that they will only follow the Interview Guide since they don’t have the intuitive skills to sense when a customer knows more and is willing to share.

Disorganized Win/Loss Analysis Interviewers

Some interviewers don’t organize the data at every step of the Win/Loss process, which can compromise the final product. Be sure to:

  • Integrate the feedback on questionnaire development from the various people at your company.
  • Gather the relevant customer contact, buying event, and logistical information from Sales.
  • Keep track of who the interviewer has connected to within Sales and which accounts they market to.
  • Keep track of where interviewers are in the connection process with customers: introductory email, reminder email/text, Win/Loss interview, or follow-up.
  • Write up interview summaries interview summaries shortly after conducting the interview.

Win/Loss Interviewers Lack Analytic Skills

Some individuals are excellent interviewers, but don’t have strong analysis skills.  While each interview summary contains valuable customer information, if the analysis isn’t thorough, you won’t learn the key takeaways from the win/loss interviews.  It’s the key takeaways that your company needs to act upon.

Interviewers Lack Accountability to Make Changes from Win/Loss Analysis Findings

The interviewer who makes the recommendations to improve your ROI is not accountable to make the changes. This is a major Win/Loss analysis weakness. Accountability needs to be assigned and agreed to by managers who get things done, in the various departments.

A related weakness is when individuals or teams are not held accountable for making the changes recommended from the Win/Loss analysis. There is no change and the company keeps doing business the same way as before, even though they have the intelligence to change. If you’re going to invest in a Win/Loss program, change, since that’s what will improve your bottom line: improving win rates and customer retention, and often enough, higher spend.

What are some of the weaknesses you have noticed in your Win/Loss program? What have you done to overcome them?

Read more about the strengths of Win/Loss analysis here.

Learn more about competitive intelligence

Win/Loss Analysis bookAmazon link to Win/Loss Analysis book

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What Are the Strengths of Conducting Win/Loss Analysis?

This blog will outline the strengths of Win Loss analysis. This is the first step of the widely used SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to assess the value of Win/Loss. We will share weaknesses, opportunities and threats in future blogs. Strengths are HERE and Weaknesses are HERE.

Win Loss Analysis: Strengths

The major strength of Win Loss analysis is that you are learning directly win loss analysisfrom your customers and those who chose a competitor’s product or service. Customers are the fuel that keeps your company in business. They buy based on their perceptions and what’s important to them, and that’s what you learn during Win/Loss interviews. This conversation is another precious customer touch point for sales and marketing, even product development.

Act on Undecided Customers

You also get some ideas about why customers remain undecided. You learn how to convert more of your undecided customers into wins or to recognize when they are no longer an opportunity.

Improve Your Sales Process

You can make changes to any part of your sales process based on customer feedback. You learn what works, what doesn’t, what customers value, and what they don’t. From loss interviews, you can learn what factors led the prospect to take your company off the short list.

Timing: After the Sale

Another strength is the timing of Win Loss interviews. They take place after the sale, and ideally after the solution or product is implemented. Customers and prospects are past the pressures of decision-making and know you are not pitching to them. Since you aren’t trying to change their mind, they are usually happy to share how they decided on their service provider. Most people don’t get listened to enough in their quiet, digital work environments.  Your major enemy is time. Sometimes, people don’t have enough time for this conversation.

How the Competition Sells Against You

Another strength is the competitive intelligence you learn, such as details on how a competitor sells against your company or what a competitor tells customers about your product’s performance, which may or may not be true.

What the Competition Says

Win/Loss interviews often uncover competitors’ specific product promises that they don’t deliver. Similarly, they uncover traps laid out by the competition’s sales force, often using FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) rather than facts to win the business. Pointing out these facts and tactics help your sales force gain credibility and avoid making false promises.

Your Sales Force Informs You About the Competition

Silver bullets can be developed from Win Loss findings that can help your sales force gain credibility with customers. Sales values this intelligence. Once Sales realizes their source is Win Loss interviews, sales reps will become incredibly helpful. This intelligence giving often opens up the quid pro quo with Sales. They will become a rich informant about the changing competitive marketplace.

Improve Your ROI

I know of no other process that gives your company as much intelligence to make improvements as when you make the changes that emerge from Win/Loss analysis. Over time, you gain the confidence to be a more proactive player.

The ROI of Win Loss analysis is easy to measure:

• You retain more business.
• Increase average deal sizes.
• Gain more business and revenue.
• Develop products sooner with better customer input.
• Enhance existing products with better customer insight.
• Change processes to improve the customer’s experience when they do business with you.

Learn more about competitive intelligence

Win/Loss Analysis book; Amazon link to Win/Loss Analysis book

Join our mailing list and get our cheat sheets on “How to Build a World Class Win/Loss Program.”

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