We know that getting going with Win-Loss can be a bit daunting. Maybe you haven’t made calls before or you’re not sure what to research. Don’t sweat it! It can take a while to get the hang of this. Keep at it! But hey, we’ve been doing this for a long time now, so why not make the road a little less bumpy for you? Here are some of our top pro tips to help you get on your way.
Pro Tip 1: Know What You Want to Know Before You Start
You can’t get where you want to be if you don’t know where that will be. Setting clearly defined Research Objectives will help you to both target your Win-Loss research as well as set expectations for the success of the program. Be sure to align your Research Objectives with the strategic goals of your organization. There’s no sense chasing information on Buyers that your organization has no interest in anyways. Research objectives may include:
- Your Product-Market fit
- New market problems that your organization can solve
- Your service levels
- Persona refinement
- Buyer purchase-decision process
- Marketing channel effectiveness
- Sales process
- Communication style
- Better understanding of your place in the competitive mix.
Note that all of these are more specific that simply “Why do we win or lose?”. If you start with something so lofty, you’ll get less defined, lofty results. And anyways, you’ll get a pretty good handle on broader issues by including a few broader issue questions along the way.
When you’re think you have a handle on your Research Objectives, put together a 1-page brief for the team and ask for their feedback. Involving others early on will help to get them on board and keep them on board for your initiative.
Pro Tip 2: Recruiting Interviewees Is Harder Than You Think It Should Be
The biggest challenge a lot of market research projects face is recruiting enough quality interviewees to meet the objectives of the research project. Sending cold non-personalized emails to all of the CRM contacts associated with a customer soliciting interviews tends not to be successful. What happy customer wouldn’t want to do a short interview and get a $50 VISA gift card? A lot fewer than you would expect. Experience has shown that a portfolio approach that combines warm introductions, multiple emails, and phone call follow ups works best.
For best conversion rates, warm introductions by sales associates to contacts who were actively involved in the sales cycle works best. Even emails from sales personnel to contacts they know who fit the profile of the interview program will usually result in a 20% to 40% interview conversion. Broad non-personalized emails to a wide variety of contacts at a company will yield a 10% to 20% open rate, a 2% to 5% click thru rate, and for those who click thru a high conversion (>75%) to actual interviews.
As you can see, if you rely upon cold emails there will be a fair amount of telemarketing work to obtain the interview commitments you are looking for. It can be done, but requires significant resources to execute it.
Pro Tip 3: High Incentives Can Attract the Wrong Type of Interviewees
As mentioned above, recruiting interview participants is tough. Often companies will mine their CRM or sales force automation systems for contacts who have been involved in recent sales cycles for candidates. Email blasts are then used to solicit participation with the financial incentive as a hook to get their attention. As a recent benchmarking study from MailChimp, the enterprise email service provider, indicates that the open rate for software and web app firms was 19.81% and the click thru rate was 2.05%. Not all that click thru end up committing to an interview. To land 20 interviews you would need to contact at least 1,000 people, if not more. Yikes!
It is thus common practice to offer potential interviewees a financial incentive for participating in an interview. A $25 or $50 gift card is often used, or even $100 per interview. Although this does encourage more participation, it sometimes leads to contacts who are not the best fit for the program to commit to an interview so they can get the financial incentive. Does your EVP of product really care about $50? Maybe they’ll take the $100 to buy their kid a new video game or the like, but even then…
You can counteract these issues by ensuring that low-value contacts are excluded from your email list. You can further counter this effect by following the conversion rate tips above.
Pro Tip 4: Performing Interviews Is Easier Than You Think It Should Be
The early stages of interviewing can be a bit scary, especially if you’re a naturally shy person. Don’t fret, friend! Turns out that if a buyer or customer has expressed interest in speaking with you that they are, in fact, interested in speaking with you. It’s natural to be nervous in your first few calls. Don’t sweat it. You’ll get over it quickly and into the swing of things. Win-Loss takes practice. It’s okay if the first few interviews don’t go as you had planned. In fact, maybe make your first few calls with low-value targets so that you can practice before show time.
This one comes directly from our training manual: if you do get nervous or a bit lost on what to do next, remember that you wrote your questions with purpose. You can rely on the questions to keep the conversation rolling if you get stuck. You can always loop back to a particular topic later in the call to make sure that bases are covered.
Remember: Win-Loss is supposed to be a flowing conversation. You want to be flexible during the call. In fact, Win-Loss is at its best when new things pop up that you had not considered. Highlight the questions that really, really matter and make sure that you get to those. Otherwise, keep the conversation going when your Buyer is telling you something important.
Pro Tip 5: Read The Win-Loss Primer
We’ve produced a commute-time read that will get you further up to speed. It’s called The Win-Loss Primer and you can find it here.