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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