Top Tips for Win/Loss Survey Design

Summary / TL;DR: Survey design is an art – not too long, but not too brief. Meaningful questions that will elicit valuable responses and – in the case of a Win / Loss program – provide the backdrop for the Win / Loss interview itself.

When designing a win-loss survey, it’s really tempting to make that survey long. You have the interviewees’ attention, right? So let’s load in the questions. You canvass different people in the organization and you ask them what questions they want to ask. And then you add them into the survey.

Research shows that in today’s Too Long Didn’t Read World (that TL;DR in case that was too long). You need to keep your survey under 15 minutes. If you don’t, the survey respondents will do one or more of the following

  1. They’ll just stop responding

  2. They’ll stop thinking about the answers and complete the survey

  3. They’ll get annoyed with you.

In the case of a win-loss survey, where there is no mandate or reward for completing the survey on behalf of the interviewee, we need to be even more sensitive to these behaviors. When we design surveys, aside from keeping it under 15 minutes, we look to hold the following guiding principles true.

  1. We frame the purpose of the survey. What is it for? How will it be used and why they should respond?

  2. We use open-ended questions – not “Did you think the product feature was good”, but rather “What did you think of the product feature?”

  3. We use questions that are answered on a scale so that way we can measure both the direction and intensity of opinions. For example, in our Win Loss survey, we asked customers to rate the importance of a factor and then score that factor itself.

  4. We are not overly detailed. We’ve seen some surveys that are essentially an endless list of items to evaluate “On a scale of one to ten rate the quality of the product brochure.” This is a question list that, post a six-month B2B sales cycle, is going to yield worthless answers if we get answers at all.

What we’re looking to do is capture the sentiment and perception of the line item for scoring and use that as a backdrop for the win-loss interview. And finally, we look to speak the language of the survey respondent. The more we use their terminology, the better we will resonate, and more likely, we’ll be able to get that survey completed.

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