Lori: Ken, what is Win Loss Analysis and why should organizations care about Win Loss programs?
KEN: There are two ways to approach Win Loss Analysis: you can approach it to achieve soft benefits that properly implemented Win Loss programs should always deliver, including understanding why you win and lose, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of buyers and competitors. It will also reveal sales and marketing strengths and weaknesses.
In addition, there are four hard benefits that organizations can experience with Win Loss programs:
- increased win rate
- increased deal size
- decreased cost of sales
- decreased sales cycle
To achieve these results organizations must be willing to undergo transformation of key weaknesses their program identifies. They also need to view their program as iterative — an ongoing initiative versus a one-time event.
"For deal success with Win-Loss programs organizations must be willing to undergo transformation of key weaknesses their program identifies"
Ken Allred, CEO, Primary Intelligence
Lori: What are best practices you’ve seen in Win Loss programs?
KEN: The most important best practices I've seen are ones that surround transformation efforts. This means that as the program reveals both strengths and weaknesses in key areas of the organization — sales, sales operations, marketing, contracts/legal, solutioning, delivery, product, etc. — it’s how the organization leverages those insights to make appropriate changes that really makes a difference.
A Win Loss program should, at any point in time, inform your organization of the top three areas of focus to achieve the hard benefits I described above. And those three things will change over time, so consider your program a real-time gauge that shows what you need to work on at the moment.
One of the most important best practices we advocate is establishment of a council of your senior sales, marketing, and product leadership that meets regularly during the year to review recent program findings. This council is responsible for taking action on program insights.
Finally, the insights from your program should be shared broadly throughout the organization. Never restrict access. This may feel counter-intuitive or even risky, but after doing this for over 15 years for hundreds of organizations, I can assure you that organizations achieving the largest returns on program investments share insights with everyone, especially sales reps.
Lori: What tools exist to help sales leaders understand why they’re winning and losing?
Ken: We’ve come a long way with Win Loss tools over the past 15 years. There are now software tools that provide dashboards of Win Loss interviews, with the information viewable from Internet-connected devices. These tools provide details about specific “won” or “lost” accounts — including direct buyer feedback — as well as analytics tools showing trends in aggregate.
The tools allow filtering, tagging, and widgets to quickly highlight specific information. They can be powerful for individual reps who want to see opportunity-level buyer feedback, as well as executives desiring a more holistic view of market and competitive performance.
Lori: What advice would you give companies thinking about starting Win Loss programs?
KEN: Start with the end goal in mind. Organizations typically implement programs with three different objectives: educational objectives, business result objectives, and measurable outcomes. All of these are important, but it's the last type that can really push organizations to realize maximum benefits from their programs. We could do a follow-up article on three different outcome types from Win Loss programs, but for now, my advice is to start with the business result objective you want to achieve. This will form the foundation of your program and ensure it’s successful.
Lori Richardson helps mid-sized companies grow revenues by solving key issues in their sales department - like recruiting, retention, diversity hiring, process, pipeline and leadership. She speaks at CEO groups on topics of sales growth. Clients include companies in the technology, telecom, manufacturing, distribution, and professional services industries. Subscribe to the award-winning blog, follow her on Twitter
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