A lot of organizations perform their own Win-Loss programs. That’s great! Indeed, we frequently help companies stand up programs and support them as they develop. But as with all things, tradeoffs are made. If your team is running its own program, or if you are considering running your own program, read on! Here are 5 reasons internal Win-Loss programs fail at many b2b companies (and how to avoid them).
1. Politics and Trust
Politics and trust typically kill a new program before it gets off the ground. Sales doesn’t want other teams talking to THEIR customers. This is often because they fear someone will mess up a future deal, find out something they as a salesperson might have missed or somehow weaken the relationship with a customer by creating confusion with multiple contacts at your company. These are all really excuses which are rooted in one idea – sales doesn’t trust other teams to be professional.
How to overcome? Start with Wins or Churn Analysis
2. Transactional Focus, Not Market Focused
Everyone is interested in the big deals and for some organizations this is where they prioritize their Win-Loss Analysis efforts. A given deal had $300,000 in cost of sales and you ended up losing and now you want to find the gap. Does the product suck? Does the channel suck? Does X suck? These interviews often become a tactical inquiry of who to blame. Each one of these interviews re-inforce the negative realities of trust across the organization. This approach often yields no specific patterns or organizational benefit at scale beside a “now we know” check-box.
How to Overcome? Recommend a follow up set of interviews to validate the learnings from this single deal.
3. Bad Contact Data = Bad Results
The management of data and contact information is a constant challenge for some. Aged contacts, bad data entry and the constant churn at customer and buyer organization make immediacy for follow up critical. Even companies trying to strategically use Win-Loss get impacted by this, as often they are doing a project once a year or maybe twice which leads to low responses and poorly-targeted interviews.
How to Overcome? Have sales do the initial outreach right after the decision and refer the contact to you directly as the researcher.
4. Limited Interviewing Experience and Expertise
Qualitative research is focused on discovery, in that aspect the interviews should be more fluid than scripted, this is why internal SME’s are often the best to do the interviews. The opportunity to find something new, but the skills of discovery are learned through practice and many just create a laundry list of questions which are asked in a check box sort of way. This leads can lead to internal perception bias and resulting lack of confidence in the learnings in some initiatives.
How to Overcome? More interviews means more expertise, so over time more value – don’t give up. Kinda cheesy, but reality.
5. Recruitment and Scheduling Takes Time
The daily thrash of execution always gets in the way of doing the long-term strategic stuff. So when folks have a consistent cadence set, the demands of tactical activities override the longer-term benefit items like market discovery. Successful recruitment requires multiple emails and personal follow ups to succeed and sometime folks just drop the ball, so it doesn’t happen.
How to Overcome? If you do a survey at the end of every buying experience, like Net Promoter Score (NPS), add a check box which says something like “Would you like a representative to follow up to share more insights on how we can improve our customer experience?” and if checked it automatically emails the researcher for scheduling.
We think every team should find a way to learn about their market and how decisions are made and if you find yourself getting into some of these situations just think about what needs to be done to overcome them. If you want more ways to further understand how to improve your B2B Win-Loss, check out our Win-Loss Primer.