4 Steps to Effective Win Loss Analysis

 In Strategy and Go to Market


3 Minute Read

In the game of growth marketing, not every ball ends up a home run. That’s expected in the upward trajectory of any growing company or new technology. Don’t disregard those missed shots, though. For the most effective win loss analysis, you’ll want to make sure you’re not throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Even in a string of losses, there’s valuable and actionable information waiting for you to uncover it. But, you can only do this if the process is correct. Fortunately, we’ve picked up some tricks to help get constructive win loss analysis. The kind that helps improve products or craft better strategies.  Make your messaging or pricing more effective. Enable sales spins that close deals. The kind of hot info that helps you grow with wild abandon.

What’s Win Loss Analysis Anyway?

Win loss analysis informs marketing, sales and product teams of deals – both won and lost. They are deep dives into the “why.” You can interview customers, lost customers or prospects and sales people – all to uncover the insights that improve products, messaging, and sales teams.

To get your marketing and sales teams smart fast, follow the next 4 steps that are crucial to every effective win loss program.

 #1: Strategically Select Interview Targets

First, you need to decide who to include in your effective win loss study.  Ideally, you should interview both prospects and sales teams. You should also include wins and loss according to your selected target markets within your total addressable market. (Yes, you need to choose targets that deliberately.) And you should interview according to where your product is according to maturity.

For example, if you’re new, you probably lose a lot of deals because you’re new. Often times, it’s far more crucial for brand new companies and products to understand why you win. If the market or product is mature and there’s always a fight for market share, it’s usually more important to know why you lose. If the market is coming off a fast-growth phase, it’s a good idea to understand why you win and why you lose.

#2: Thorough, Objective Interviews with Context

Second, you’ll need a structured interview guide that touches on all of the important questions. Also, conduct interviews in a way that specifies key issues, without leading. This means maintaining objectivity, while insuring answers are both authentic and clear. If this is an internal project, this can be tough to do. You’ll need to be able to take criticism. Even more important, you need create an environment for free expression. If your questions aren’t well-prepared, answers will be useless. So before you do even one interview, make sure your interview guide covers the important ground.

At a high level, aim for qualitative interviews that gather information about the following:

  • Business situation
  • IT or other business function challenge
  • Existing environment that new solution must fit into
  • Specific product requirements
  • Outcome – sale or no sale
  • Experience with trial period if there was one
  • Professional services or third parties involved
  • Internal influencers or champions involved
  • Sales cycle duration
  • Deal size
  • Effective sales tools and messages
  • Suggestions for other sales people

Of course, this might not be the exact right set of questions for all companies or products, but it’s a good start.

#3: Transcripts Central to Effective Win Loss Program

Third, record all interviews and get your hands on the transcripts. It’s important to have an accurate record of each interview. In the day and age of digital recordings, this part is now much less expensive than it was. Soo don’t skimp here. Once the interview transcript is written and formatted, it’s ready to be whittled down to the good stuff.

Because people don’t talk like robots, your analysis team needs to clean up transcripts. So take out the conversational affirmatives. Get rid of the small talk and questions on vacation and weather. It’ll make for a more efficient read – and leaves nothing but the most valuable data points.

From there, read each transcript twice. Read your entire first batch of interviews — say between 8-10 — all at once. Keep an open mind while you read each one. After the first run, take a 2nd pass and note trends useful to product, marketing, and sales teams.

#4: Database as a Marketing Information Asset

For most, the norm is to write up a basic report of each client interview, present it, and call it a day. Sounds straightforward enough, right? Well, sure – if you’re more interested in the short-term benefits of that effective win loss analysis.

We’re in for the long-haul, though. So next, you’ll want to plug those interview results into a common framework for analysis. The common framework pretty much follows the interview guide. And to get answers down, you can use a spreadsheet or a simple database.

Why this way?

Simple. A database is a single place to keep all your hard-earned win loss data. A spreadsheet or database stores interview answers according to each question. You can also add conclusions as fields, as well. So, it becomes way easier to refer to the relevant information.

And most important, over time, trends reveal themselves at a glance. It gets easier to keep track of progress and make new conclusions. And all without wading through buckets of documents or individual interview reports.

Additionally, as more interviews collect each quarter, the spreadsheet will change. Columns get more defined, allowing your team to hone in on trends and make sense of common challenges.

Ultimately, this database becomes a real information asset. As time goes on, the data asset gets better and better. Answer fields grow and become more structured. Best of all, you’ll be able to analyze this information asset much as you would a quantitative data set. And you get the benefit without the aggravation of referring back to old interview transcripts or reports.

The Easy Way to Effective Win Loss Analysis

Win loss spreadsheets and databases aside, it’s all about keeping your eyes on the prize: More and faster sales. Write-ups by themselves may seem informative, but they are still stand-alone pieces of a whole picture. The conclusions you can make is usually thin. There’s also a tendency to oversimplify a not-so-simple analysis process.

At the end of the day, it’s all about those trends. Trends over time. The kind that only many, many interviews can reveal. So, effective win loss analysis processes helps you to recognize business-changing trends over time, as markets change and mature.

It might take some serious product know-how, a great grasp on market changes, and a little elbow grease. But, ultimately when you uncover game-changing information that helps your team market and sell better and faster, it’s worth the effort.


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