Summary / TL;DR: Sales cares about making their number – and that is how it should be. And to make that number we have to care about loss rates, conversion rates, and velocity through the sales process. The sales process, however, is just a reflection of the most important process – and that’s the buyer’s journey. Understanding from the actual buyers (both won and lost) their perception of that buyer’s journey can powerfully inform us of what we are doing that leads to wins & losses – and what we can do to accelerate the opportunity to the close.
Let’s talk about the benefit of a Win / Loss program for the Sales function.
A well-run Win / Loss program benefits the whole enterprise. And when we say well-run, we mean a program that encapsulates
When we here at SteelPoint run our Win / Loss discovery and diagnosis process, we ask the customer to evaluate the vendor’s offerings on 4 key factors:
We ask them not only to assess if that factor contributed positively to the outcome – for example if that sales engagement led favorably to the win but also ask them to assess if the factor might have detracted from the final outcome. For example, “your offer and price structure was very attractive to us despite the final loss”.
Now, let’s talk about sales. So what do we care about in sales? What we primarily care about is making our number – and that is how it should be. And to do that we have to care about the sales funnel and the funnel dynamics. We have to care about:
How many opportunities go in the top of the funnel to how many come out of the bottom (the wins)
The rate at which opportunities go through that funnel. (the velocity)
And as sales professionals, we’re constantly seeking ways to decrease the dropout, or loss rate, from the funnel and improve those conversion rates between the stages of the funnel. And we are also always looking for ways to remove obstacles so that we can accelerate the journey of an opportunity from the top of the funnel to the bottom.
So what can Win / Loss programs do to help us in this goal?
Well, here’s the thing, as sales go through the sales process, the buyers, on the flip side of that funnel are going through their buyer’s journey, and that must be our primary concern. The sales process is simply a reflection of that buyer’s journey. By speaking directly to the people on the receiving side of the sales process – the prospects – we can learn so much about what we’re doing well and where we can do better – and how we can improve opportunity velocity and decrease drop out rates.
Here are some quotes from actual win-loss interviewees that we’ve talked to over the years.
“When they gave me the white label PowerPoint template to show my return on investment. It saved me about four weeks. That was great.”
“They didn’t try and force a demo on me on the first call. They took the time to understand my business and decision-making process, and this sped things up because they understood who the people they were going to have to convince were going to be.”
But, there are also some negative stories as well.
“They insisted on redlining or NDA. We are a Fortune 500 company and they wanted to redline and revise our NDA. It was pretty much all over at that point”
“In the end, they didn’t tune the case studies to my industry’s terminology. I knew that it didn’t matter from a technical perspective, but I couldn’t convince the executives.”
So when it comes to your sales engagement journey, there’s nothing more valuable than to understand directly from the customer what you’re doing right in the sales motion. And, where you can improve a Win / Loss program can oftentimes illuminate the unexpected, providing you with truly insightful and actionable information well beyond the one-dimensional single word Win / Loss code you might be accustomed to reading in a CRM report.
We here at SteelPoint Research can be your first step in that Win / Loss program, the discovery and diagnosis phase. And, we do it on demand. We can pave the way for a hi-fidelity, accurate understanding of how the market is perceiving your sales process, and along the way, reduce those losses and increase that pipeline velocity.