Win-Loss Analysis: Actionable Information for Business and Product Success


I’m back after a short hiatus. My personal goal was to write at least one post every month, but I keep missing out on it frequently and that’s become a tradition in itself:-)

After reading the post heading, no prizes for guessing that it is about getting the most actionable information for evaluating business and product direction, sales processes, amongst others for future success. Yes, I’m referring to Win-Loss Analysis in its entirety.

Definition

Whilst there is a ton of information about the definition of Win-Loss Analysis, I’ll describe it with a few points:

  • Win-Loss analysis is the process of analyzing a recent customer loss or a win. A process which involves contacting customers after a sales activity and determining what went right, what went wrong, identifying areas of improvement, and discovering what the competitors did right or wrong.
  • It is about taking corrective action in order to mitigate loosing deals in the future and further reinforcing energies in areas of strength.
  • Win-Loss analysis provides the most actionable intelligence information available to a company based on its sales results.
  • Win-Loss analysis provides an accurate measurement of how an organization is positioned with decision-makers and key influencers within customers’ organizations.

Who needs Win-Loss Analysis

Win-Loss Analysis is critical to companies that are characterized by:

  • Strong competition
  • Financial and strategic decisions impact customers’ buying decisions
  • Lengthy and costly sales cycles

Involved parties

Win-Loss Analysis requires involvement from almost all teams and individuals that were involved in the sales process, of course the customer too. Here’s a quick list:

  • Customer
  • Sales
  • Pre-sales / BA
  • Product Manager
  • Others who have interacted with the customer during the sales process

Lead

It is easy to outsource the entire Win-Loss Analysis process to third parties, but small companies prefer to do it themselves. In such a case, it is appropriate to have Product Managers take the lead for the end-to-end process. Product Managers being the creatures who interact with almost every team inside and outside the company would be able to comprehend the evaluation in an unbiased manner and propose appropriate recommendations based on the analysis.

Tools

Win-Loss Analysis does require a few simple tools to get the process going:

  • Questionnaire

– List of questions soliciting answers from customers and internal parties involved in the sales process

  • Analysis Report

– Report based on customer answers to the questionnaire
– Recommended course of action

  • Trending Report

– Half-yearly/Annual
– A report highlighting patterns and common themes in wins and losses
– Recommended course of action

Process Workflow

1. Pick the right accounts

– It is entirely left to us to identify the accounts for this exercise
– There might be obvious strategic and political reasons to include or not to include certain accounts

2. Analyze Win/Loss internally

– It is extremely essential that internal teams conduct discussions before including the customer
– What to ask and not to ask the customer and who to ask questions are a couple of things that can be sorted out in this discussion

3. Prepare custom questionnaire

–  It is essential to have a standard questionnaire to ask customers, and it is even more essential to customize it on a case-by-case basis

4. Interview customer

– The win-loss analysis team interviews the customer
– This could happen in a face-to-face discussion or over the phone

5. Package analysis report

– Based on the answers given by the customer, prepare a report for it
– Make sure to include lessons-learnt and recommended corrective actions

6. Disseminate results within the company

– Share the win-loss analysis report with all key stakeholders in the company so everyone concerned gets visibility into the customer acquisition process and has an idea of the recommended corrective actions

7. Trending report

– Win-Loss Analysis reports for different accounts are like “data points”
– Connecting the dots and identifying patterns in wins or losses will be of significance to the executive team in taking the business to the next level

Benefits of Win-Loss Analysis

Okay, this is the last section of a lengthy post. Some of the benefits of Win-Loss Analysis are:

  • Improve existing business

– Drive product, sales, and marketing decisions by getting empirical and pragmatic information
– Identify current trends in the market place
– Improve competitive advantage & market share
– Increase top-line revenue: get accurate information at the opportunity level that optimizes sales efforts

  • Influence customers positively

– Customers will value the engagement and relationship with us, specifically the lost ones, when the pitch is something like: “Hey customer, we know you have chosen another vendor for the services, but if you could spare some time for us in completing the Win-Loss Analysis it will help us discover the gaps and reasons as to why we lost you and will help us work on those areas which will put us in a position to better serve you in the future when we bump into each other again.

  • Identity the product stand

– Discover strong and weak points in the product
– Make it more competitive
– Influence product roadmap

  • Company processes

– Discover efficiencies/inefficiencies in company processes (sales, product, support, et al)

  • Tap new markets

– Tap new and unknown markets / market segments. This comes from the fact that some customers might have unique needs which we might not even be aware already. In such a case, it is essential to profile the customer and research the need in the market place — may be we will end up discovering completely new market segments which we can go after once we have built the required product capabilities.

All the information in this post has been based on Internet research and my past experience. Please share your thoughts too.

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