You may already have systems and processes in place that help you determine your GTM strategy, alter your product roadmap, or bolster sales, but without a robust win-loss analysis program, you may be missing out on key information that could help you gain more revenue.
So, with all this, why should win-loss analysis be a priority?
Companies need to know why they’re winning and losing deals. In a study Gartner conducted on the benefits of win-loss analysis, Todd Berkowitz, their Research Vice President said:
“A formal and rigorous win-loss analysis program enables better segmentation, product strategy choices, and sales enablement . . . Those that take a more comprehensive approach have seen a 15% to 30% increase in revenue and up to 50% improvement in win rates."
In essence, you may have pieces of a program in place, but a comprehensive approach needs to be a priority.
Let’s take a look at why win-loss analysis isn’t at the top of a product marketer’s “to-do” list and discuss why it should be (I’ll give you a hint––it rhymes with ‘shmore shmevenue’).
Reasons you may not use win-loss analysis
You use a CRM picklist
Many companies start where they feel it is easiest - mandating their sales team to fill out the won or lost reasons in their CRM.
Your CRM can be a great starting point to aggregate data such as buyer demographics, deal size, company information, and internal sales feedback. Gathering internal feedback can be valuable but is oftentimes biased, incomplete, or simply just incorrect.
Another issue with CRM win-loss data is that it lacks detail. Let’s take, for example, price. If the data from the win-loss reason field says you’re losing deals on price, then what? You need more detail than just a pre-populated answer to drive meaningful change. If the price is too high, how high is too high? Are you always higher than competitors or just in this circumstance? Was your sales rep including an unnecessary upsell, making the price higher? A CRM win-loss program isn’t giving you the detail you need.
Research has shown that more than 60% of the time sales reps are wrong about why they win or lose. CRM data can get you on the right path by helping to determine what types of deals you're winning and losing and allow you to start formulating trends. What CRM data can’t do is give you the voice of your customer.
You survey buyers
Like CRM data, surveys are another useful component of win-loss analysis.
Surveys can be a great tool to get high-level answers to questions in a non-intimidating way. They’re a quick way to gather unbiased information and allow you to reach out to as many buyers as you’d like.
There are a few downsides, however. One is the quantity of the responses, and the other is the quality of responses. Survey response rates vary but can be as low as 2%.
To increase that response number, many times surveys are written to be quick and easy. Survey creators will often allow for short, open-ended questions which tend to encourage input from the most extreme ends of the spectrum.
You're interviewing buyers yourself
If you have a program you’re conducting internally, you may already be capitalizing on some of the benefits of win-loss analysis interviews. But, there may be some unforeseen obstacles that are blocking you from getting the best data.
In our experience, buyers are more likely to give more honest feedback to a third party. In the thousands of buyer interviews we have done for companies, we’ve repeatedly seen that the interviewee is much more forthcoming with us, a neutral third party.
“Clozd finds information that we can't get in any other way. Our prospective customers simply won't share honest feedback in most cases. Clozd helps us get that.”
Chris Adams, Head of Expansion Sales at ClickUp
Oftentimes the data is collected within one department and completely siloed from the rest of the company. Many product marketers find a do-it-yourself approach can be difficult to enable the free flow of information for a number of reasons – too busy, internal politics, fear, etc.
Win-loss analysis best practices show that achieving the best results occurs when the information is regularly shared. As the old adage says, “knowledge without action is futile.”
Such is the case with win-loss analysis, the ultimate purpose of your win-loss program is to drive meaningful action for your business. Andrew Peterson, Co-Founder of Clozd said:
"Don't worry about the different ways that leaders or individuals will interpret the data. These differences will spark healthy debate and dialogue that lead to better conclusions and collective action."
Anecdotally, Ryan Smith, Vice President of Product Management at Armor, explained that the product marketing team used to run a win-loss analysis program in-house:
"Every month product marketing would get together with their sales team to try and better understand why deals were won or lost. What they were finding was that their internal program, while it was getting them some traction in the win-loss arena, was actually uncovered that there were insights they needed to have but couldn’t get.
“Because [we use] an external company, the results tend to be more objective than previous efforts to do this function internally. The insights are also deeper than we were previously able to get.”
Once Armor adopted a more comprehensive win-loss approach that shared objective buyer feedback to key stakeholders throughout the company, and Ryan was able to access the findings, take action, and determine important product roadmap changes.
You’ve already got a lot on your plate
Why add to the madness when you’re already in charge of so much? Across many organizations, product marketers are looked to for product positioning, viable messaging, the voice of the customer, product launches, the list goes on. Understandably, it may not seem like a priority to add another thing to your plate.
"I think about bandwidth. As a product marketer, I know that at the end of the day, when I have four things on my plate and I only have room for two, competitive intelligence and those types of interviews tend to fall by the wayside."
Rachel Barker, Head of Product Launches and Go To Market at Qualtrics
However, win-loss analysis may just be the very thing that simultaneously adds to your plate… and removes things from it at the same time. (Does that make any sense? Stay with me here.)
The intel you end up getting from a comprehensive win-loss analysis program can give you the information you need to better execute your current objectives and make your life easier. Understanding what motivates buyer behavior is critical to developing effective sales and marketing strategies.
With better customer insights, comes better marketing content, product development, and a better understanding of what you need to do to get more revenue. This initiative can help get the buy-in you need to get your job done.
Sanjay Puri, the VP of Product Marketing at Avalara, said, “I think this [win-loss analysis] is really important for product marketers. There is no better way for product marketers to gain credibility within an organization or gather support for your initiatives than to bring the voice of the customer into the equation. And in my mind, you can have an argument with somebody and state a customer testimonial, and all arguments come to an end because that's the end of opinions.
Opinions, while they are very interesting, are not very valuable. Direct customer feedback is. And this helps. I really believe that bringing direct customer feedback, whether it's through win-loss analysis or other mechanisms for product marketers, is the best way to make yourself credible and effective."
Prioritizing win-loss analysis makes your job easier
Prioritizing win-loss analysis allows you to better guide your strategies and activities. Discovering why you won or lost may help you realize why you thought you were winning or losing isn’t actually so––or you might get the ammunition you need to back up what you already thought was happening.
Either way, getting feedback on how your company/product/message/marketing is being perceived - directly from your target audience - is invaluable feedback that can guide company-wide strategy to ensure you are always hitting the mark. When you have the insights teed up for you, it not only saves you time and resources but it helps to develop winning strategies.
“The added intelligence of understanding why we win/lose deals has had a very meaningful impact on our go-to-market strategy. It is amazing the information that a company will share about their experience in the sales process, their perceptions of your products, and even how they perceived your competition. This data becomes a cornerstone for our competitive intelligence and is very influential on our product roadmap.”
Gary Cottrell, VP of Product Marketing at Xactly Corp
A comprehensive program sees higher win rates (and more revenue)
One of the biggest impacts you can make as a product marketer is helping your company increase win rates.
A comprehensive win-loss program centered on sharing objective feedback from buyers with many stakeholders in your company is the best way to sponsor changes that lead to more wins.
This approach will provide actionable insights that will empower the different teams you work with to double-down on strengths and reduce weaknesses, ultimately increasing your win rate and revenue. To reiterate Gartner’s study, comprehensive win-loss analysis programs are seeing up to a 30% increase in revenue.
If you’re looking to learn more about win-loss analysis, best practices, or how to up-level your current program, there are many free resources at clozd.com/how-to-do-win-loss-analysis.