But Lost Customers Won't Speak to Us

Summary / TL;DR: If customers sense that a meeting has a sales agenda, then the answers they give to ANY questions will be guarded and carefully crafted. This is the last thing we want in a Win / Loss interview.

When we speak to our clients for the first time, we find that a common belief is that their lost customers won’t have any interest in speaking to the vendor. That belief is not entirely misplaced. 

However, you would be amazed at the number of won customers and lost prospects who are willing to engage in a dialog to provide their opinion and feedback to the vendor. The trick is that you have to do it outside of the context of a sales call. 

So, let’s talk about the sales context. 

Customers are no different than you and I: when we believe that the person speaking to us has an agenda – particularly that of making a sale – our guard goes up immediately, and we start to be guarded with our answers. We ask the question of ourselves, “How is my answer going to be used?” And, in the B2B sales context, “Is the information I’m providing somehow going to be used to the advantage of the person on the other side of the table?” 

If this happens, then our interviewees may very well adjust their response. It is for this reason that the very best Win / Loss programs use an independent group within the vendor organization during the discovery diagnosis phase. Or, even better, they use an independent group outside of the organization to undertake discovery and diagnosis. 

When you remove that sales context, the customers often are much more willing to open up with frank and candid views and opinions about the vendor’s offer. At SteelPoint, we often tell customers that our only interest in the conversation is having them give us their straight and candid feedback. We have no other agenda, such as trying to make a sale. It is with this backdrop, combined with the right interview techniques, that we find our interviewees open up without reservations and give feedback on what the vendor did well and where they could do better. 

As people, we generally have a very strong desire to be listened to and understood. However, our willingness to do that is oftentimes a function of the set and setting of the conversation. When an interviewee feels safe, when they know that their comments will be taken at face value and for purposes of improvement – rather than any sales reason – then they usually have a great willingness to open up and give their direct feedback. 

And, that’s what we do here at SteelPoint Research during that first discussion. With that Won customer or that Loss prospect, we set their mind at ease and create the right environment for that constructive conversation. And we do all of this on-demand. No complex contracts, no minimum commitments – whenever you want a Win / Loss interview, you simply click and order it on our website. 

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