Win Loss Analysis is more than Competitive Intelligence

Win loss analysis is more than competitive intelligence, and is my favorite tactical cooperative intelligence practice. Put simply, it offers the best ROI of any tactical competitive intelligence tool. You gain intelligence by interviewing your customers shortly after the buying decision is made. You want to find out why they chose to do business with you or a competitor. During these one on one interviews, you learn about the competition, for sure. You also get product development ideas, how well your marketing campaigns are working, how they found you, sales and customer service improvements. You even learn about your testimonials, if you ask.

Develop a Cooperative B to B win loss program

  • Clearly identify objectives for conducting win loss.
  • Invest the time to develop the questions you want answered.
  • Include your sales force.
  • Maintain professionalism throughout the process.
  • Don’t just “survey” your customers.
  • Don’t just interview losses; include wins.
  • Communicate findings broadly within your company.

I’ve conducted win/loss interviews and analysis for years, and enjoyed reading Ford Harding’s post, “Learning from Loss,” where he shared findings from Ken Sawka about what can be obtained from conducting win loss interviews.

Rainmaking and Emotional Intelligence

What I found most interesting was Ford’s experience in professional services firms where partners do the work and make or lose the sale so there isn’t a dedicated sales force.  Ford’s focus isn’t competitive intelligence so his perspective is valuable to those of us with our heads in the competitive intelligence sandbox.  He is the author of Rain Making: Attract New Clients No Matter What Your Field.

A rain maker is an employee who creates a significant amount of new business to a company. Rain Making uncovers how professional services are marketed successfully in terrific detail.  I decided to buy the book to gain the perspective of selling in professional services as I sold in the retail and telecommunications arenas.

You will be more successful in capturing competitive data from your sales force if you build your emotional intelligence by gaining an understanding and empathy for the challenges and joys of their job. You will most certainly acquire this from Rain Making.  You might even give your company’s sales and PR folks some tip from this book.

For more reading on win loss analysis consider this article, “Increasing Sales through Win Loss Analysis.”

Do you conduct win loss interviews at your company?  If so, how have you used the findings to improve your business?

Learn more about competitive intelligence

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

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7 thoughts on “Win Loss Analysis is more than Competitive Intelligence”

  1. Ellen:

    As a Strategic CI Manager and Senior Intelligence Analyst who headed up the structure of tactical and strategic Intel ops in a $24b multinational that had never had CI prior, I agree that conducting bid win loss analysis is likely the most effective method of improving current marketing and sales effectiveness, if done correctly.

    However, more often than not, BWL isn’t handled appropriately and does not end up generating the value companies hope it will. Accordingly, I would add a few critical success factors/pitfalls here based on my experience:

    1) BWL needs to be an ongoing process and somewhat methodological. I’ve oft seen conclusions drawn on what I would discern to be too small of a sample base to say that its representative of the larger universe, and as well, that certain companies want to do it on an extremely ad hoc basis -ie let’s look today at 20 situations and then not look again for 6 months. No, this doesn’t work as things change- often quickly…

    2) I tend to espouse utilizing third parties for objectivity in gathering and probing, however forget having them do the analysis/conclusion drawing. The two companies my company had employed to assist with BWL, while two big name players in Sales Intel, were absolutely horrible in drawing appropriate conclusions or even aggregating in a meaningful way. The point here is if you don’t have some of your own internal analysts with a pulse on the competition – bid win loss will fail. BWL has its dependencies….and one of those critical dependencies is having solid, in house CI folks systematically monitoring and staying on top of competitive activity both on a strategic and tactical basis! These folks should see the bid win loss data, and they will naturally derive better conclusions than anyone else.


  2. Hi Monica,

    I agree with your first point in particular that in order to gain the most from win loss, it needs to be conducted regularly and with enough customers so you can observe trends and trust them.

    As for your second point on 3rd parties doing the analysis, I have seen it work quite well, when communication is good and the consulting firm has a pulse on the industry. Some consultants are excellent win loss interviewers, but don’t have much experience with your company’s industry. However, also to your point, no one knows your company’s business like your employees…I don’t care how smart the consultant is. The internal CI person should have the last word on the CI analysis. It’s your reputation as well!

    Thanks for your comments, Monica. It’s great to hear from you, and I hope things are going well for you.


  3. Hi Ford,

    That’s a great post, and it’s so true that the face-to-face time is what leaves the impression in sales situations like so many others in life. I look forward to reading your book which is on its way…I have a feeling we could talk for hours on our experiences!


  4. As the creators of Trigger Event Selling™ we have developed and provide at no charge a Trigger Event Analysis Template called ‘Won Sales Analysis’.

    We believe the best analysis is the analysis of the sales you won not the sales you have lost.

    Conducting a Won Sales Analysis tells you which Trigger Events lead up to the purchase, what made the customer choose you, and how can you make it easier to get more customers.

    The template and instructions can be downloaded from

    Feel free to contact me via phone (+1.403.874.2998), Skype (Craig.Elias) or our contact form ( if you have ANY questions after downloading the template.

    Have an eventful week!

    Craig Elias
    Creator of Trigger Event Selling™
    Chief Catalyst, Shift Selling, Inc.
    Author of the upcoming book SHiFT! The SILVER BULLET in Sales

  5. Hi Craig,

    I think it depends on what you’re looking to do in win/loss analysis as to what is the most valuable output. In win analysis, customer retention and winning new business are usually WHY and the key benefits. However, if a company is unsuccessful in penetrating a new market or selling a new product, loss analysis solves that problem more effectively.

    I love the idea of win analysis, and some of my clients don’t want to study their wins at all. I feel like Darth Vader when I call up sales to get the scoop on their lost acounts as it feels negative and unbalanced. Good luck with you upcoming book!

    Happy New Year,

    Ellen Naylor

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