After all this time doing market interviews, similar issues keep bubbling up as we speak with Product folks. Of course, that’s why we enjoy talking about them so much. Read on if you’re ready to kick your research up a notch!
Know What You Want to Learn: A Focused Initiative
Depending on the area of interest, you might focus on pricing, packaging or developing core assets for internal alignment to the market. Think buyer personas and buying journey maps and the like. Regardless of the context you hope to glean, it is important to know it is as much a discussion of discovery. While it might be great to get every question answered, sometimes you just might dig into a given question because it represents something new and potentially of interest. If you have an ongoing program, you might want to integrate new questions and goals on a quarterly basis as you learn new things about the buyer’s journey and product needs specifically if analyzing churn for example. Think it more as driving a discussion rather than answering a list of predefined questions.
- What problem were you trying to solve?
- What was your perception of company X’s ability to solve that problem?
- How many people were involved in the decision cycle? What does your team’s buying process usually look like?
- Were there any gaps in available information early, perhaps information you might have preferred before you engage our sales team?
- Did you find our sales team aligned to your timeline and the follow up on inquiries/requests?
- How did your perception of our company and products evolve during the decision cycle?
- What advice would you the leadership team moving forward?
These are just ideas, the questions you would ask would be relative to the information and goals set for the Win-Loss program. These should be short discussions, in the neighborhood of 20-30 minutes.
Recruitment and Enrollment
Depending what you are trying to learn this should tailor the audience participants. For example you may want to learn about a given industry, a given persona or a try to baseline how the market decides to buy a product like yours. Having a good sample pool for projects is a tough thing, this is why ongoing programs where you do 3-5 calls a month consistently as deals are decided can over time produce far richer results vs. annual projects to snapshot the market.
As we’ve mentioned elsewhere on The Win-Loss Blog, response rate and outreach vary by the size of a given deal. For example, larger value deals and initial purchase have higher response rates than churn renewal deals, especially for losses. This is the hardest part from a pure labor allocation and timeline perspective. Not only does deal size impact response rate, but so does how long ago the decision is made. The further you get away from a decision the less urgent an ask is for your buyers. This is why programs often have higher response rates than one-off projects, which have aged deals and buyers who have moved on. From our experience, 45 days is the outer benchmark were recruitment takes a hard turn south from a conversions perspective.
So what should the number be? 20 valid contacts for every audience targeting to receive 1 interview, providing you are contacting inside 45 days. You will also probably have a 3:1 response rate for wins v. loss.
Emails, follow-up emails and phone follow-up are the tactics with various loops and senders. We sometimes get asked if incentives improve response rate, the answer is yes if the titles are more manager or individual contributor level in an organization, but not with more senior titles, directors and above.
The Presentation of Results
It is important to provide not just conclusions in the report out, but the key objects or areas of study. Information about the process used and sliced numeric views of the populations targets and interviewed. The type of slicing might be geography, industry or wins v. losses. Your data set and return mix will inform the best way to how to present the audience information.
Since Win-Loss is qualitative, it is important to call-out representative verbatims in the presentation to provide additional context. Create a summary of 3-5 consistent themes in the interviews which should drive a handful of next steps for the organization. Some next steps might be update the buyer persona, fill content gaps or even do a survey to validate some of the findings across a larger audience.