Still relying on salespeople for insight? Make win-loss analysis part of your B2B marketing plan

Do many of your sales deals get disqualified because the potential buyer’s budget won’t stretch or your product is a poor fit for their needs? Many marketing and sales teams don’t know and the search for an answer quickly descends into blame-shifting:

Marketing won’t admit to generating unqualified leads, salespeople won’t confess to over-promising and product managers rarely accept their product is not up to scratch. Everyone involved has a reason for their viewpoint and this natural bias is not conducive to making an impartial judgement.

There are three reasons why a win-loss analysis should be part of your marketing plan:

  • your salespeople are not an impartial source of insight for lost and won deals
  • primary research beats information from secondary sources, especially when your own sales pipeline and revenue is concerned.
  • doing a win-loss analysis can reveal crucial competitive strengths and weaknesses that can help you fine-tune your positioning and marketing approach at every stage of the buying process – even before your sales rep and potential customer first start interacting.

TOP REASONS WHY YOU HAVE BEEN PUTTING OFF DOING A WIN-LOSS ANALYSIS

Most CMOs and heads of sales agree that they need to know why deals are lost or won. Yet few have a systematic approach to gathering the necessary data on a regular basis. These are the top excuses for putting a win-loss analysis off:

  1. Your head of sales argues that your instance of salesforce.com is set up in such a way that a reason must be provided for any opportunity which is closed/lost past a certain stage. However, this argument ignores that the salesperson losing the deal has little reason to approach this exercise with any degree of self-criticism. In addition, drop down menus in Salesforce.com often don’t provide the ability to enter customer-specific information.
  2. Your sales reps argue that they already have to attend and share information at weekly sales calls and regular product meetings.
  3. Your CMO argues that this information is sorely needed, but that it is not her department’s responsibility to gather this information.

And so the buck keeps getting passed. And when the music stops, the data’s not available and everyone’s scratching their heads.

STEPS FOR IMPLEMENTING A FORMAL APPROACH TO REGULAR WIN-LOSS ANALYSES

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  1. Nominate someone to own the win-loss analysis process
  2. Make sure the owner is someone with some industry knowledge who can interview the customer and drill down into answers so that the process reveals deeper reasons than lack of budget or product functionality
  3. Select someone unconnected to the product and the sales and marketing team in order to encourage the customer/prospect to be candid and open without fear of offending the company’s representatives.
  4. Classify the deals to be analysed and make these categories part of your analysis. For example, it is useful to identify deals that you really wanted to win, e.g. strategically important and big deals versus run-of-the-mill deals for your standard product.
  5. Don’t commit to including all deals in your win-loss analysis, but be sure to include a representative sample for each category, e.g. this could be all your ten strategically important deals, but only 10% of your ‘bread and butter’ deals. Agree on this approach with your sales team to avoid having arguments about the validity of the sample later on. Make sure your head of sales incentivises your sales team to identify the correct people to interview for each deal.

Structuring your win-loss analysis in this way will help you find out what’s really going on in your sales and marketing pipeline and will ensure you are focusing your resources on the most effective way to get the information you need to achieve high-performing b2b marketing and sales campaigns.

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