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Why Win/Loss Analysis Isn't Working

I hear it all the time. "We spend a lot of resources on win/loss analysis, but it isn't doing any good!" There are dozens of reasons why your win/loss analyses might not be delivering, but I'm going to put forward one you probably haven't thought of.


Many companies have taken an important step – they’ve clarified who owns win/loss. Unfortunately, they’re still not getting what they need out of their win/loss efforts. Why not? Clear ownership is necessary, but it’s no help if teams don’t know what win/loss ownership means and what the owners are supposed to do.


Too many teams think that whoever does the customer interviews "owns" win/loss analysis. Too many teams think that doing the customer interviews is win/loss analysis. If this sounds familiar, it’s why your win/loss activities aren’t helping you.


Assigning ownership of win/loss activity is no help if teams don’t know what ownership means and what owners are supposed to do.

There are – or should be – many sources of win/loss data. Sales teams and customer interviews are the ones we all think of, and they're the source of a lot of valuable information. But there are clues to your buyer’s journey in your website visitor tracking data, discussions with your 3rd-party selling partners and industry analyst reports. Your legal team, if they participate in contract negotiations, has insights into what makes buyers happy - and not. I bet you can think of others, too.


If there are so many sources of information, how do you make sense of them? Should your legal team aggregate the sources to look for patterns and trends? Should salespeople sit down with your data scientists to validate new findings? Or should each team come to the planning meeting with their sliver of knowledge and argue about who’s right?


Clearly – none of the above.


Performing win/loss interviews is only half the battle. You need to combine win/loss insights from all sources to find patterns and trends. You need to prioritize filling the gaps in your insights with an eye to maximum impact for minimum effort. Finally, you need to communicate all this goodness to the entire organization so it can be used to make market-driven decisions everywhere, from product pricing to ad buys to contract creation, to win more and lose less.


Performing win/loss interviews is only half the battle. Focus less on who does the interviews and more on who will take the lead to make sure what's gathered is used.

We get really wrapped around the axle about who gathers win/loss information, but pay almost no attention to making sure someone's in charge of using what’s gathered.


As with every activity, clear Owner and Contributor roles are a key to win/loss effectiveness. But everyone – especially the owner - needs to know what ownership is. Whoever owns win/loss analysis owns aggregating and analyzing knowledge sources, recommending and prioritizing next steps and communicating win/loss knowledge in actionable ways throughout the organization. Clarifying ownership activities will unlock the value of your existing win/loss efforts.


For more insights on performing win/loss analysis, watch my free webinar with Pragmatic Institute.


About the Author

Diane Pierson is the Founder and Principal Market Strategist of Innovate on Purpose, a consultancy enabling successful product innovation for tech companies through strategic focus and powerful go-to-market strategies. Diane is also a visiting instructor at Pragmatic Institute. Contact Diane at dpierson@innovateonpurpose.com.

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