Asking questions that can be answered with just one word is a common trap in Win-Loss interviews. Fortunately, you can turn things around fairly quickly with some re-phrasing. For now, consider the potential responses to this Win-Loss Interview question.
Did you find potential vendors by consulting analyst reports?
What do you think? Would this be a good Win-Loss Interview question? Could we improve upon it? Let’s unpack this a bit and find out more.
What This Question Gets Right
This question does have a few good things going for it:
- It focuses generally on the decision making process
- It focuses specifically on the vendor sourcing process
- Knowing if your buyers read consultant reports when selecting vendors is useful
If the answer to these 3 things is a trend with your customers, then knowing that can help guide your comms strategy and spend, improve your mindshare, and help ensure that you are on the list of potential vendors for a given project.
So there’s that.
What This Question Gets Wrong
The problem here is that “Did you find potential vendors by consulting analyst reports?” can only be answered two ways: yes or no.
Questions that can be answered with yes or no are of little use in Win-Loss. Here’s why. In your interviews you want to prompt your interviewee to talk. You want them to talk as much as they are willing in the limited amount of time that you have to pick their brains. As we have mentioned in other posts in this series, these interviews are a unique opportunity to hear from your customer. You do not want to squander that opportunity by prompting them to say very little, and there is very little information in either yes or no.
Additionally, by asking yes or no questions, you remove you and your interviewee’s ability to talk openly. It feels more scripted and the responses will be as much. Instead, open ended questions will allow you to explore new territory that you had not yet considered when you drafting your interview questions. Often times the follow-up to a question yields more insight than the question itself.
Re-Phrase The Question For a Big Improvement
An easy way to look at Win-Loss Interview question writing is to ask yourself if the question can be answered with either yes or no. If so, re-phrase the question so that it can elicit more information.
Consider now, this phrasing of the question.
How did you find potential vendors?
See how this gets to the same idea as the first question we looked at but prompts the interviewee to talk at length? The response could be analysts, word-of-mouth, industry magazines, trade shows… the potential answers here are infinite. Chances are too that you will hear something that you or your team had not previously considered. Finally, if there is a particular channel or media outlet that you want to confirm with your market, you can put that in a follow-up question.
One More Thing
The most important Win-Loss interview question is and always has been “why?” With this simple question the best insights are found. It will even help you open up an otherwise quiet individual to speak their mind.