Why You Should Conduct a Win/Loss Analysis

November 2, 2016

You finally close a deal that’s been hanging in the balance for a while now. It feels great marking it closed-won in your CRM. You rang the bell. Your colleagues applauded. Ride your win—absolutely—but don’t forget to reflect on the experience. There will be new possibilities at play tomorrow, so ask yourself, “What have I learned from this win, and how can I replicate my success?”

A win/loss analysis is one of the most robust tools you have at the close of a deal. When the dust clears—whether you won someone’s business or not—a win/loss analysis enables you to understand key points of your process and performance during the deal. Top sales organizations conduct these types of analyses as a matter of course. It’s a practice that breaks down the sale (or lack thereof) through mining for data and feedback, instead of relying on emotion and/or the seller’s perception of what precipitated the success or failure.

A well-done win/loss scenario relies on transparency—an open and honest way to understand why an opportunity was won or lost. In short, it’s an assessment from the customer’s point of view that can include interviews and surveys of buyers and decision makers; it’s a strategy for capturing the strengths and weaknesses not only of your sales staff, but of your organization as a whole.

Your analysis should aim to capture the following data from the feedback:

  • How did the sales professional or the sales organization as a whole conduct themselves?
  • Overall, how competitive are your offerings?
  • How competitive is your pricing—how does it stack up against the competition?
  • Were your marketing materials and general messaging competitive? How well did those efforts convey to the customer the value of your products and services?
  • How well aligned with the customer’s needs is your value proposition?
  • How well did you stand out from your competitors?
  • In the end, what made the customer choose you—or why did they decide on your competitor?

A win/loss analysis is made up of three basic principles:

The pre-interview: You decide who to interview and how to interview them, including choosing which questions to ask.

The actual interview: You can conduct the interview yourself, but typically it’s done by someone not connected to the deal, such as a colleague from Marketing or HR—or even a paid third-party consultant.

The post-interview: This happens in conjunction with the actual analysis of the feedback … which leads us to our final segment.

Learning From the Data
Start with the wins. Specifically, identify the elements that will contribute to your organization winning on a regular basis. From there, go to the losses, asking questions like, “What stands in the way of me or my organization winning regularly?” Are you conducting a loss analysis due to one of the following?

  • The customer failed to make a decision
  • The customer went with a different solution; that could mean a) they attempted to solve it with in-house resources or b) they went an alternate way and hired an indirect competitor of yours.
  • They straight up went with your competitor

A multitude of reasons can account for the outcome of your sale. What’s crucial here is to fully understand why the customer settled on a particular outcome. Stay tuned next week for a follow-up to this post, where we’ll focus on the questions you should ask in your interview. More to come!