Lately I have noticed an increase in the number of retailers offering a draw prize for completing on-line surveys related to the buying experience. This is a smart way to gather primary research with little cost or effort.
It makes me think of the B2B world and how many companies fail to conduct meaningful win-loss analyses, if they bother at all. In my experience, even if there is a structured win-loss program, it tends to fade quickly and leans heavily on the loss side of the fence. I’m not suggesting a loss analysis can’t provide some great insight, but there are inherent challenges.
Most prospects really doesn’t want to talk to you after the fact – they have moved on emotionally and let’s face it, the process can be uncomfortable. Unless your interview drills down aggressively enough, you will often get answers like “your price is too high” or “they had features you don’t.” These are seldom the real reasons you lost. They either don’t want to hurt your feelings, or simply want to get off the phone as quickly as possible. My advice, absolutely do the loss analysis – but dig deeper! You may want to consider using a contractor, since people will generally open up more to someone external.
That brings me to the real topic at hand, understanding why and how a deal is won. In my opinion, a well-structured win analysis is at least as valuable as the loss post-mortem, if not more so. The emotional atmosphere is more conducive to sharing information. The new client just bought from you, so they likely feel good about the decision and are willing to help. Depending on the size and nature of the business, I always prefer phone interviews. So what information should you be digging for? Well, the specifics are up to you, but some good categories of questions revolve around:
- How they found you and what communication vehicles reinforced your messages during the process (quality and impact of marketing, your references, campaigns, etc.)
- The pain points / compelling reasons to buy and how you addressed them (the problems you solved and how well)
- What stood out with your company relative to competitors (specifics about your offering, perceptions of your company and the sales engagement differences)
- The decision makers, buying process and criteria (stack rank pros and cons against competitors – this information should overlay well with similar prospects)
- Overall commentary on why they bought from you and how much more they will help (will they provide a future testimonial? case study? reference? etc. – ask while everything is on a high note)
Why do companies generally neglect the win analysis? Maybe everyone’s excited the deal closed and they’re ready to move on. Maybe there’s so much work to do once the order has been signed, that it just gets forgotten. Whatever the reasons, most companies miss this great opportunity to learn, improve, and increase their win-rates!