It’s Win Loss Analysis

There are lots of good things in today’s B2B sales industry, but there’s also a whole bunch of bad things.

And one of the worst is win/loss order analysis!

The reason that this is so laughable is because of the misguided belief that we have so much great sales data and analytics available today. We do have a truck load of information that tells us so much of what we need to know about the performance of salespeople, sales teams and sales organisations. All collated so that it can be used to improve efficiency, productivity and of course results.

Yet at the end of a complex sales cycle, the data we have about why we won or lost an order is about as much use as the teats on a boar hog.

What do I mean by this?

Think about it for a moment. Prospects make their decisions and notify the sellers, this can be either won, lost or the biggest competitor we face today – the ‘no decision’ status quo.

Following extensive celebrations or mourning by the sales team, it’s time to update the opportunity in the CRM system. A single click to change the status to Closed-Won, Closed Lost or Closed No Decision. And now the moment of truth – the reason.

The salesperson has to make an entry into another little box within the CRM to state why.

Think about the thousands of times this is done almost daily by salespeople around the world.

Let’s start with why the deal was Won. What do you think is the number one reason given? I don’t think it will come as a surprise that it was because of the salesperson, their skill, strategy, relationship or whatever other praise they can heap upon themselves. Come on guys, you know this happens, we’ve all done it at some point.

As salespeople, we love to think of ourselves as good at what we do, and sometimes we are. But not always, so how has this snippet of data helped? What honest and useful insight has it provided?

OK now to the polar opposite result, the deal has been lost. Yep, you guessed it the reason was not down to the salesperson. The most common entries for lost opportunities are price, product or someone else screwed up.

How does this biased information help us to get better as sales organisations? Think ‘boar hog’ again!

As an industry, we’re striving to become better and more proficient within our profession. Data is what we use to assess and benchmark our performance.

So, here’s my problem.

Sales can be a very shallow industry. We have a tendency to judge someone’s sales ability based on their numbers, but that doesn’t tell us everything we need to know. There are many situations where business is won DESPITE the salesperson. Yep, despite the salesperson. The customer was pretty much going to buy your product or service irrespective of anything the salesperson did, short of completely screwing it up.

We’ve all come to a realisation that we’re no longer in a seller-centric market, times have changed and the boot is now on the other foot. Effective selling is all about understanding opportunities from the buyer’s perspective, it’s only what they think and care about that matters now.

The won/loss decision is a huge opportunity to learn and improve for any sales organisation, something that we need to do if we are to survive and thrive in the increasingly tough sales industry. Shouldn’t we be considering the reasons why we won, lost or if there was no decision from the those that matter the most, the buyers?

Some companies have been doing this for a while, but only a few. They either nominate someone internally or contract a research agency or specialist to ask a bunch of questions. This is generally to a solitary person within the buyer team and therefore they only get one person’s opinion and feedback. Whilst this might be useful it’s also limited especially now that B2B decisions are being made by committee or consensus and not by a single decision maker. Multiple opinions and feedback from different people in the buyer team gives a much better understanding of why you won or lost.

Smart enterprises in highly competitive markets understand the advantages that can be gained from small improvements. They know that using Win/Loss Analysis specialists and experts like Cian McCoughlin, the CEO at Trinity Perspectives, will help them to coach their people and fine-tune their process.

If we really want to become more effective then we have to get the buyers views, after all without their input we’re shooting in the dark when it comes to the learning and development and the new processes that we implement.

Think about how useful it would be if we got the buyers opinion on how effective our salespeople performed in terms of understanding their needs, adding business value or something else that was important to them, irrespective if the outcome was won, lost or no decision.

Buyers will see that sellers truly value their feedback and have ambitions to become more customer and buyer team-centric.

The level of response you achieve will obviously vary depending on the outcome of the opportunity. Buyers are more willing to give feedback to successful vendors who ask for it. You can also increase the levels of response from lost or no decision outcomes based on what and how you ask and how easy you make it for them to do.

Why not state that you’d like feedback so that you can improve how you engage and add business value your customers? Tell them that you’ll use their feedback in the hope that should you get a future opportunity with them you’ll be better prepared to be more beneficial and helpful in their process.

This is not about gathering data to use against salespeople, this is about understanding what we really need to know to get better as individuals, teams and organisations. The more we know the better we can become. The better we can become the better the results we can achieve.

We should not fear feedback, we should welcome and embrace it. As author and management expert Ken Blanchard said ‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions’.

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