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  • Writer's pictureDiane Pierson

That's Not a Reason: Win/Loss Answers That Tell You Nothing

I've reviewed a lot of win/loss analyses lately, and they all have an issue that needs to be remedied. What's the problem? The questions most product marketers are asking, and the answers they're accepting, aren't actionable. They're not the reason customers are buying from you or your competition. Some of the answers aren't even true, and some are downright silly. What are these non-reason reasons, why are you getting them, and how can you eliminate them from your win/loss results?


win/loss analysis for B2B product teams

The Unactionable Win/Loss Answer: "Price."

Price on its own is almost never the reason you win/lose, but it's the number-one reason for losses on every analysis I see. Getting back a win/loss analysis that says "price" is your reason for losing gives you no actionable insight, except that sales will keep asking to give discounts. How do you get to a problem you can solve?


Dig deeper. Was the prospect unhappy with the price or the pricing MODEL? If you offer a subscription versus upfront payment would that make a difference? Do you charge a lot of nickel-and-dime fees that irritate buyers?


Why do buyers think your product is too expensive? What alternative are they comparing it to? Discover why the market finds your product less valuable than you do!


The Untrue Win/Loss Answer: "No Decision."

No decision IS a decision. It's a decision not to buy, or an indication that there was never any intention to buy. Your win/loss efforts need to figure out which one it is.


You may find that you and/or sales are targeting market segments you can't win - they were NEVER considering buying your product. Everyone will thank you for stopping those activities!


The Downright Silly Win/Loss Answer: "Other."

"Other" is the ultimate unforced error of gathering win/loss insights. If "other" - meaning you aren't giving the interviewee an answer option that fits with why they did or didn't buy from you - is a significant response to your win/loss interviews, you need to learn more about your prospects - fast.


"Other" means you aren't asking the right questions, which means you don't know your market as well as you need to. Maybe this is because you're new to the game, or maybe because market priorities are changing. Whatever the reason, just accepting "other" as an answer is silly - and risky - indeed. Solve this by doing a second round of win/loss with different specific answer options. Or at least add a text field next to the "other" option on your win/loss surveys.


Why do we get these answers we can't use? You can see the theme above - either we ask questions that don't give us enough information, or don't follow up on those that take us down an actionable path but aren't enough to really solve the problem. If your win/loss is delivering the answers above, it's time for focused follow-up, testing hypotheses and in general innovating on purpose.


About the Author

Diane Pierson is the Founder and Chief Market Strategist of Innovate on Purpose, a consultancy enabling successful product commercialization for B2B tech companies. Order her book, How to Innovate on Purpose or contact Diane at dpierson@innovateonpurpose.com.

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