Improving Outcomes of Win-Loss Analysis
No matter how you go about win-loss analysis, you are looking to get to the heart of the question, “Why are customers buying (or not buying) from company X?” Some fairly straightforward techniques from other areas of competitive intelligence practice can help make the process simpler and more successful. At the same time, information discovered during the course of the project is very useful, beyond the win-loss analysis itself.
The Elusiveness of Loss Data
The most common way of initiating a win-loss analysis is to filter out a set of customer engagement records from a CRM database or other repository, according to criteria such as a date range or product type. Most companies then hire an outside firm to interview contacts in the sample to determine why certain entries are wins and others are losses.
Samples should include at least as many losses as wins, since why certain sales slipped away offers unique insight into marketing and sales weaknesses. Unfortunately, that’s where many analyses fail—a lack of solid information on losses to follow up on. That’s no surprise; sales people are not motivated to spend precious time documenting failed engagements, and they may even feel that they would be opening themselves to criticism. Alternative approaches are in order.
Looking Outside the Citadel, at Sales that Went Elsewhere
A more creative view of the situation reveals that loss data is all around. In a fair number of scenarios, sales to a competitor are a loss, even if the company conducting the win-loss analysis was not considered. In fact, lack of contact with a potential customer is an important data point to consider, in determining how to make more exhaustive contact in the future.
Since the CRM system of a company that wasn’t considered for a sale is a poor place to find that information, it’s valuable to identify competitors’ customers. One common technique is to search job postings for companies that are hiring people to use or support a competitor’s product. It’s also worthwhile to look at sources such as LinkedIn profiles, case studies, and product support forums for indications of what companies are using the product.
Extending Win-Loss Analysis to Gain Broad Industry Perspective
Identifying companies that bought from competitors may well be an entry point into reverse-engineering a competitors’ customer list. Analysis of the actual lists can help establish demographic information such as a competitor’s regional reach, the size of organizations they target as customers, and which industry verticals they’re strong or weak in. Compiling those data points from multiple companies can provide a strong picture of what parts of a given market segment are being saturated or underserved by the industry as a whole, which reveals patterns of opportunity. That broader view can be instrumental in formulating more robust strategic guidance from a win-loss analysis.
By Sean Campbell