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The Truth About Win/Loss Analysis
Blog / For Sales Pros / May 29, 2018 / Posted by Taylor Burke / 1055 

The Truth About Win/Loss Analysis

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5 Ways You’re Getting Win/Loss Analysis Wrong

Time is money. This old adage has perhaps never been truer than today, when all a lead needs to do to get to your competitor is open a new tab on their browser.

But, making the most of your time doesn’t hinge on who has the fastest fingers to dial a number or hammer out an email. Instead, it’s about using that time smartly, which starts with a properly conducted win/loss analysis.

What is a Win/Loss Analysis?

A win/loss analysis is the study of what activities or messages contribute to a closed sale, and which resulted in a rejection. Getting this analysis right is crucial to your team’s ability to improve, and improve quickly. However, getting it wrong can be disastrous. In our fast-paced world, any time wasted on activities that aren’t successful is money down the drain.

If you’re doing your win/loss analysis wrong, you likely don’t even realize it. It’s easy to fall into doing things the way you’ve always done it before and miss opportunities for improvement. This is particularly true when your sales team is swamped with live leads, leaving little time to analyze their, well, analysis.

To make it easier to spot the problems, here are five ways you may be getting win/loss analysis wrong:

1. You’re not creating a supportive environment

Sales can be a cutthroat industry. Perhaps more so than in other fields, underperformance is easily spotted and must be quickly addressed. No rep wants to own up to being behind the curve, particularly if it doesn’t feel safe to do so. However, because win/loss analysis relies in part on self-reporting, it’s critical to create an environment in which everyone feels supported in admitting their shortcomings. To do so, lead by example. Ensure that managers are just as forthcoming as they expect their reports to be. Build a culture of trust in which the focus isn’t on who failed the hardest, but who is working the hardest to improve.

2. You’re letting bias creep in

In an effort to streamline analysis, many organizations offer reps a multiple choice list to select common answers to “what went wrong?” This approach is more or less leading the witness. It tells the rep that any different ideas they might have about what went wrong probably aren’t right. It also encourages reps to choose the options (the price, the competition) that seem the least their fault. For better qualitative data, give reps more freedom to ruminate. Further avoiding bias also brings us to the next point — don’t just talk to the reps.

3. You’re not talking to the customers

When it comes to your win/loss analysis, perception is not always reality. What your reps think contributed to a close or lack thereof may not match up with what the customers actually experienced. So ask the customers!. Make it a regular practice to survey your closed and lost leads about their experience. If you’ve tried this approach and found the responses lacking, dive into the psychology of reciprocity, and ensure that you’re asking at the best possible time.

4. Your lens is too small

Another side effect of bias is not seeing the big picture. You hear one negative piece of feedback about a new email template or script, take it personally, and immediately change course. It’s an easy mistake to make — most of us constantly second guess ourselves, and take that one piece of criticism as confirmation of our worst fears. Certainly it’s important to keep an eye out for any major flaws in your systems, but those singular moments of critique should rarely result in an immediate pivot. Instead, take all the data into account and look at the big picture to find patterns that belie the true problems. Then plot a well-thought-out course of action to improve.

5. You’re waiting too long

Many sales leaders make the mistake of calculating a win/loss analysis on a finite date. Marking everyone’s calendars for once per month or quarter doesn’t provide the frequency needed. To get it right, win/loss analyses have to be happening all the time via careful note taking and daily reflection. After all, it’s much easier to remember what happened 10 minutes ago than 10 days ago. Your CRM is the ideal tool for making this happen.

Institute a required practice that your reps spend 2-5 minutes notating the nuances of each contact with a lead. Did they use a different elevator pitch? What questions did the lead ask? At what time did they send an email or make a call? Staying vigilant about tracking data points that may seem minor will make your monthly or quarterly deep dives more effective and accurate. Then, transfer the notes to your team’s project management software where actionable points can become team tasks for process improvement.

The time that you invest getting your win/loss analysis right will pay you back in spades. Armed with heightened knowledge and intelligent insights, your sales team will make better decisions the first time, without a moment wasted.

Taylor Burke is a writer for TechnologyAdvice covering marketing and sales. She’s passionate about helping brands become more authentic, transparent, and connected with their audiences.

    About Author

    Taylor Burke is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice. She’s passionate about making marketing and sales experiences more human.

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