Carefully crafting your Win-Loss interview target list is one of the most important steps in any Win-Loss program. This post aims to help you avoid some common target list-development pitfalls so that you can get more out of your interviews.
Balance Your Wins and Losses to Uncover Additional Context and Elements for Action
Sample bias can be an issue in any market research methodology, and Win-Loss is no different. There are a number of ways to reduce bias in your program, but one of the easiest to ensure is contact-type mix. Essentially, when you craft your target list, ensure that you select vendors with a variety of characteristics that are important to the future of your business.
For instance, a Win-Loss Program based on a Target List sourced only through deals you lost will likely highlight negative opinions of your product, processes, people and marketing. Fairly, this may not be what your market actually wants, but rather is indicative of why you don’t get a subset of business. Similarly, weighting your list towards wins will give you a particularly sunshiny version of your company. This is dangerous in its own ways, not least is that it can potentially reinforce commonly-held views that are in fact negative.
In a nutshell, don’t cherry pick big deals or losses, but instead focus on the portion of the market segment which best aligns with your go-forward focus as a company.
Prioritize Your Target List and Make Interview Asks In Rounds
Prioritize your list from high-value to low. Next break them out into manageable-sized groups. The size is up to you and will depend on the size of your overall target list and your desired number of interviews. Keep the groupings balanced from a target characteristic standpoint. Then, send out interview requests to your highest-value grouping. Once you have given them time to respond, you will have a better idea of who you are talking to and how well-balanced your interviews will be. You can now review your next group of potentials interviewees and select individuals that bridge any gaps you may have. It may be a bit of extra work, but this process will give you the flexibility you need if things change over the course of your Win-Loss Project.
Get Internal Clearance Before Contacting Buyers
When reaching out to any buyer for the purposes of Win-Loss you will want to obtain the proper clearances from your internal team first. Depending on your organization, this may mean the account manager, their VP, your VP or maybe even your CEO. In-Writing clearances are of course best.
Another safe bet is to have your internal contact reach out and make an introduction for you. This will can often mean the difference between speaking with a high-value interviewee or getting ignored.
Pro-Tip: Remember the 1-of-4 Rule
We’d like to think that everyone would want to give us the feedback we need to improve our businesses. Hey, we’d do it for them, right? Unfortunately, due to anything from schedules to disinterest – they made the decision and want to move on – Win-Loss practitioners won’t hear back from most people they ask for interviews. Response rate is often related to the size of deal and length of the buying cycle. If the expense is higher and the deal timeline longer, you typically have a higher response rate for participation. If your products are more transactional, then less. To that end, when starting your Win-Loss Program it is important you follow up as quickly as possible after the decision.
A benchmark to remember is that 1 of 4 will accept the invitation and carve out the time, so have at least 4X the contacts on the list as you expect to interview. Hence, the 1-of-4 rule. In highly transactional or low value products, the response rate can go to 1-of-6.