In last week’s blog, we gave you a high-level overview of the importance of conducting a win/loss analysis. This week’s blog gets to the heart of the process, the interview segment, which involves you or a colleague conducting an interview with the customer face to face or over the phone. Depending on the complexity of the sales process and/or the relationship you have with the client, this “download” (or, in some cases, post-mortem) can be as short as 10-15 minutes or as long as 45 minutes to an hour.
Before starting the interview, you’ll want to ensure that you and the client are on the same wavelength, so take a moment to confirm the products and solutions offered. This also gives the customer some time to reflect.
Then, to get the most out of the interview, we suggest to cover the following questions:
What key factor did you base your final decision on?
Be sure to ask this as an open-ended question. Leading by asking something like, “Is X why you made your final decision?” could yield up a “yes” or “no” response, and that’s obviously not going to be very insightful. Getting the client to use their own words will reveal what their perception was of you, your products, and your presentation during the sales process. In addition, the question opens a window onto what’s truly important to the buyer—vs. what you may have perceived was important to them while you were conducting business together.
But be careful not to accept a vague, go-to answer, such as “price.” Because often price has to do with communicating value, meaning that the offering might not have felt like a good fit, or it made it hard to justify the cost.
How well-positioned was our solution to meet your needs?
This question is key because it distinguishes you from the competition. It’s likely that there are a number of competitors selling a similar product or service as you, but offering a customized solution is what sets you apart from your competition. If you lost the sale and are conducting a post-mortem, this truly is one of the best questions you can ask while you have the customer’s undivided attention.
Describe your experience with our sales professional and/or sales team.
Again, go open-ended to get at the customer’s experience of dealing with your organization’s general knowledge and willingness to help them. You can phrase this question in broader terms, saying something like, “What was your experience dealing with our team?” The customer may have had a number of interactions with folks from your organization—marketers, technical experts, even executives—and asking the question in an all-encompassing way allows them room to talk about those experiences as well.
On a scale from 1-10, how much did cost drive your decision-making process?
In asking this quantitative question, you’re helping to solidify that price factored into their decision, and you’ll be able to determine how competitive or off-target your pricing is.
What was your decision-making process like?
The sales process can get pretty complex, and often what you’ve dealt with is not a single client as decision maker, but many stakeholders who also weighed in on the question: to buy, or not to buy? By asking this question you’re determining who at Company X was in support of your product and who was skeptical about it. For example, when it comes to selling a CRM solution, needs vary depending on the stakeholder: Marketing will want a CRM that integrates with their marketing automation tool, a sales rep will want it for usability, and a director of sales will need reporting capabilities that are easy to set up.
What did you like about our solution, and what did you dislike?
When a sale goes south, oftentimes it’s the sales rep who gets blamed. But there is always more to the story and the answer(s) to this question can provide additional insight into what went wrong. For example, your sales rep might have nailed the presentation, it was just that the competitor’s product was better positioned to meet the client’s needs.
What prompted you to decide—or decide not—to buy at this time?
The response to this last question could shed light on that outcome most sales people live in dread of—the no decision. Typically what you’ll uncover is that you, the seller, failed to provide or convey the value during the sales process, or you’ll find that in fact you were not connected to the key decision makers. Either way, there’s something to learn here. And chances are, whatever you learn from asking this, and the questions above, you will go into the next sales process better equipped to get to yes. Not to mention you’ll build your reputation as a thoughtful sales rep.