Top Tips for Win/Loss Interviews

Summary / TL;DR: The survey is a great tool for setting the backdrop for the all-important interview. What is the key to getting the most out of win-loss interviews? Setting the scene, laying out structure, listening for those pauses and pressing on areas where you see an opportunity for more, and then to play it all back and close.

The discovery and diagnosis phase in a win-loss program is typically made up of two phases: a survey followed by an interview. Now, the survey not only gives us quantitative data, but – perhaps more importantly – it provides the initial material or backdrop for areas to probe when it comes to the interview itself. 

So how to have a great interview? Well, here are eight items that we recommend you think about. 

  1. Setting
    Begin the interview with some small talk. Get to know each other, and then lay out SteelPoint Research’s specific roles. In other words, we make it clear we have no sales agenda. Our goal is simple: to get the straightforward and unvarnished truth.

  2. Structure
    Lay out what we’d like the Win / Loss interview to assess on the vendor’s whole product offer, including sales engagement, offer construct, product and brand factors. We then start the interview explaining each one of these assessment vectors as we get them.

  3. Reference back
    This is where we reference back to the survey. It can be a very useful tool to get the conversation going or remind the interviewee of what they said initially.

  4. Scrutinize for hanging sentences, pauses or hesitations
    When we hear these, we want to see if there are more, deeper thoughts. Oftentimes, just pressing on and asking the interviewee to explain again can reveal brand new insights.

  5. Listen for intonation and tempering
    Sometimes, when you sense an interviewee is searching for a word, it is because they are looking to temper a more frank word that they want to use. So, when we hear this, it’s our goal to get the unvarnished truth. We press on for more.

  6. Playback
    This is always powerful: to play back and summarize what you think you heard them say. This is often where cognitive bias can kick in. We play back what we wanted the summary to be, not what it actually is. So, extra caution here.

  7. Closing and Seeking Permission
    When we close out a call with the usual thanks, it is here that we ask the interviewee if they would be open to having a deeper conversation with someone at our client on one of the topics they raised. For example, the marketing team or the product management team might follow up for a deeper understanding.
  8. Transcription and Summary
    We transcribe the interview, we summarize it, we pull out the key soundbites and quotes, and we fuze them together with the quantitative survey results. And that’s when we send it to our clients. 
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