Inductive vs Deductive Research

Summary / TL;DR: Win / Loss is about letting the customer lead you, not about testing your ideas with the customer. This can lead them to conclusions you want to reach – not necessarily the truth.

One of the things we often talk about in the context of when loss interviews is that of cognitive bias. This is when our subconscious has a desire to hear only what we WANT to hear, ignoring what we don’t want to hear. You can read more about this behavior in the context of Win / Loss interviews here.

Another way to think of this is to think about the ideas of Deductive Research and Inductive Research. Both have their right place and right time. With deductive research, we want to test a hypothesis. If we put that in the context of B2B, we might test a price point, a product feature roadmap, or we might be testing the efficacy of marketing collateral. 

Whatever it might be, we’re going into the research environment with an agenda – an agenda to test a certain hypothesis. Essentially, we’re looking to prove that hypothesis right or wrong. Deductive research absolutely has a time and place, and that time and place is absolutely NOT in Win / Loss interview. 

With Win / Loss interviews, we want to go in with an open mind; we want to go into the Win / Loss interview with an inductive research agenda, where we’re letting the customer take us where they want to go.  We’re not testing certain hypotheses which we’re committed to. What we want to do is discover, probe and understand the insights and thoughts that the customer has around your whole offer, your sales and marketing engagement factors, your offering price construct factors, your product factors, and, of course, around your brand and reputation factors as well.

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