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Speed up in a Slowing Economy- Look at Wins / Losses

by Matt Bertuzzi on Tue, Oct 28, 2008

I want to share a spot-on post I read over at the Tuned In blog. It is part of a series on Winning in a Down Economy. Here is an excerpt on "Embracing the new Reality":

Discovering and embracing reality is Step 1 and it's not just the job of the leader. It's the first action all of us should take to develop a plan that will work. Without an accurate assessment of where your business is perceived right now, you are out of date and potentially out of touch. The data you have now is highly suspect because it's based on the past. The data your organization craves is a real-time assessment of what the changes in the market really mean and what leading indicators they should follow.

There is no better way to embrace your new reality than by talking to your customers and prospects. To my ears, this means a structured win loss analysis program.

Disclaimer: I am very much a drinker of the win loss analysis Kool Aid.  I joined The Bridge Group to offer our CloseRate Accelerator service doing just that.

Here are some of my thoughts on what effective win loss analysis is & what it isn't.

  • Win/Loss Analysis isn't a blame game between Marketing & Sales. The program will fail if out of the gate "sales process" or "marketing tool" questions are off limits. At the Bridge Group, we focus on 4 core areas: people, process, product & pricing. These areas aren't about Sales & Marketing as silos. It is about how a buyer perceives the organization and whether or not you are speaking directly to their needs & challenges.

  • Win/Loss Analysis isn't Business Development. You should not go into these calls with the primary objective of reviving / finding sales opportunities. It is impossible to effectively live on both sides of that fence. To re-work a Ben Franklin quote: They who would give up essential discovery for temporary pipeline, deserve neither discovery nor pipeline.

  • Win/Loss Analysis shouldn't focus just on on driving Product Roadmaps. In my humble opinion, win/loss analysis needs to be 75%+ about the business issues that drove a "win" or "loss" decision. Staying focused on the perceived business benefits/lack of benefits - even when engaged with a technical buyer - is critical for making the program a success.

Oddly enough, even though you should not focus on all of the above, they are relevant topics that customers and prospects will want to discuss:

  • Win/Loss Analysis can lay blame on Marketing or Sales. You need to know if you aren't engaging the ultimate decision makers or if your sales process is off-putting. You also need to know if your marketing materials don't speak to your buyers' pain or if your presentation loses your audience within 60 seconds. The goal here is to learn what is working and what is not and use that knowledge to drive change and accelerate your close rate.

  • Win/Loss Analysis can be Business Development. A significant percentage of your "lost" opportunities aren't lost at all. You just aren't in the running anymore. Figuring out why you didn't make the short-list is critical for future success.

  • Win/Loss Analysis can drive Product Roadmaps. If a technical benefit is winning or losing deals for you, all functional areas need to know so they can either play it up or kick it to the curb.. The trick here is engaging the buyer on the "why's" behind the decision and not getting bogged down on technical feature/functions.

In any economy, but especially this one, an intimate understanding of your market is crucial. A win / loss program can deliver that information to you and allow you to embrace the new reality, making your company faster/better/smarter than the competition.

I hope to hear your thoughts & comments.

Topics: inside sales management, sales process, best practices

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