Four Pillars of Effective Win-Loss Analysis

What is win-loss analysis?

Win-loss analysis is the practice of capturing and analyzing the reasons why you win and lose sales opportunities. 

It’s the equivalent of film study for football teams. The best football teams invest heavily in reviewing and analyzing past performance (both their own and that of their competitors) to develop a recipe for future success.

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Like studying game tape, win-loss analysis is the process of going back and analyzing past wins and losses to uncover the trends and insights that can influence future success rates. Good win-loss analysis helps companies identify and prioritize critical product gaps, enhance sales training and messaging, improve marketing effectiveness, and foster strategic alignment.


Why invest in win-loss analysis? We already know why we win and lose.

Surprisingly, fewer than 20% of companies invest properly in win-loss analysis. That’d be like 80% of professional football teams skipping film study - an unthinkable proposition in today's game.

But the fact is that many business leaders are casual in their approach to win-loss analysis. They neglect the practice because they "already know why their company wins and loses." But the fact is, they don’t. They base their assumptions on a tiny sample of customer interactions and/or the anecdotes or grumblings of the most vocal employees - an incredibly biased and unreliable source of information. Besides, research has shown that sales reps are wrong about why they win and lose deals about 60% of the time.

Companies that neglect win-loss analysis are missing out on a huge opportunity to increase sales win rates, sharpen their product strategy, and build sustainable competitive advantage.


What are the four pillars of effective win-loss analysis?

The way football teams approach film study has evolved through the years. Better methods and technologies give certain teams a distinct competitive advantage.

Likewise there are methods and tools that companies should employ to make win-loss analysis more effective. At Clozd, we bucket them into four categories that we refer to as the four "pillars" or "core competencies" of win-loss analysis:

1. Leadership & Culture
2. Data Collection & Quality
3. Data Synthesis & Analysis
4. Adoption & Action

Companies that invest in mastering these competencies can achieve powerful results. In fact, a study by Gartner found that companies that invest in rigorous win-loss analysis may achieve as much as a 50% improvement in sales win rates (Source: Gartner).

 

1. Leadership & Culture

Great win-loss programs start at the top. Senior level executives, including (especially) the CEO, endorse and oversee the program and establish a culture that values constructive criticism. They eagerly review win-loss transcripts and findings and translate them into action. They view win-loss analysis as an ongoing pulse check on sales performance and the competitiveness of their product offering. 

 

2. Data Collection & Quality

Great win-loss programs consist of actual conversations (interviews) with the decision-makers at won and lost accounts. Other data sources (e.g. CRM fields or sales reps) are unreliable and other collection methods (e.g. surveys) are too rigid, too leading, or lack sufficient depth and detail.

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The interviews are best conducted by a neutral, third-party to promote candor and honesty on the part of the interviewee. The program and questions are designed to balance the needs of multiple functions such as sales, marketing, and product development. Insights are gleaned relating to your product offering, sales team, competitive landscape, pricing and packaging, and more.

 

3. Data Synthesis & Analysis

Great win-loss programs have a consistent and systematic approach to tagging key themes from each interview, and tracking them over time to identify the trends that merit organizational action. Key themes and trends become the basis of internal win-loss dialogue and decision-making. Additionally, there are methods in place for tracking common quantitative metrics that measure and benchmark product performance, sales performance, and relative competitor performance over time.

 

4. Adoption & Action

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Great win-loss programs leverage technology to share win-loss findings with stakeholders across the organization and encourage action. They make it easy for stakeholders to search, study, and adopt the findings. There is active dialogue amongst teams and departments about win-loss insights and leaders frequently reference them in meetings. The feedback shapes training, sales, and marketing content.


What resources can help me get started?

Ready to get started? There's a wealth of resources that can help you design and implement an effective win-loss program at your own company. Here are just a few:

Gartner Report: Three Ways Marketers Can Use Data From Win/Loss Analysis to Increase Win Rates and Revenue

The Definitive Guide to Win-Loss Analysis

Pragmatic Marketing: The Eight Rules of Successful Win-Loss Analysis

Or, visit www.clozdinc.com to learn about the services and technology we offer for win-loss analysis. Clozd can help you design and execute a world-class win-loss program. We offer an experienced team, sound methodology, and innovative technology to help drive higher win rates and greater sales effectiveness.