Why your financial services firm needs win-loss analysis.

You have been waiting for two weeks to hear back from your client.

Over a year ago you started initial conversations, and at this point you’ve had at least a dozen meetings and put your analysts through an unhealthy number of all-nighters to try to win this deal.

The phone rings and you pick up. It’s not the CFO you have been meeting with, but her administrative assistant. “Hello Mr. Jones,” he begins, “I just wanted to let you know that we have reached our final decision for the underwriter of our upcoming bond transaction, and we chose . . .”


At that point, you’ve stopped listening; you can tell by the tone of his voice that you didn’t win. You politely thank him and hang up the phone. What happened? You thought you were the front-runner. The CFO had consistently told you that she loved your financing ideas.

If you work in the financial services industry, chances are that you have run into situations similar to this. Whether you are a commercial lender, insurance broker, investment banker, or part of a variety of other sub-sectors of the broader financial services industry, you can probably still feel the sting of losing that big deal that would have made your year. Wouldn’t it be nice to know why you lost? That is, the real reason you lost, not the pithy, one-sentence response scrubbed by your client’s public relations personnel. This can be solved through win-loss interviews and analysis.

If you aren’t familiar with win-loss analysis, it is the practice of systematically capturing and analyzing the reasons why you win and lose sales opportunities. For more information on win-loss analysis, including why you should do it and the value it can bring to your company, download the Clozd Definitive Guide to Win-loss Analysis or check out our blog.

You might be thinking, “How does win-loss analysis apply to my business?” Here are just a few areas of the financial services sector that could be transformed by a win-loss program:

Investment Banking

Win-loss analysis is best suited for large, complex, business-to-business transactions that involve multiple people, which perfectly describes an investment banking deal. If you are doing M&A, equity offerings, bond offerings, or derivative transactions, win-loss analysis can help you. Win-loss analysis can reveal how your competitors pitch to their clients and the messaging they use to communicate their value proposition. You also can learn about competitor valuation techniques, securities distribution networks, and pricing strategies.

Commercial Banking

In the competitive world of commercial banking, deal outcomes can be influenced by a wide variety of factors. These factors can include legal and financial issues, such as credit restrictions and loan terms, but can also be more nuanced factors like bankers’ relationships. Wouldn’t it be nice to know which of these factors are having the greatest influence on who your clients choose as their banking partner? Increased understanding of how your clients assess these various criteria to make decisions on banking relationships may be the edge you need to land that next big deal.

Benefit Providers

Employees today won’t take a job without a generous benefit package. With so many providers of health, dental, and life insurance, in addition to providers of 401k and other pension plans, the competition is tight. A previous company where I worked changed both their 401k and health insurance providers in the ~2 years I was there. The lost revenue from this churn was a huge blow to the incumbent providers. Do they know why their long-time client churned? Not likely. As a benefit provider, landing a big account could potentially translate into years of recurring revenue for your firm. On the flip side, losing that account could mean years of foregone revenue. An effective win-loss program can help you understand why you win and lose new business, as well as why existing business leaves.

Asset Managers

As a professional investor, information is your competitive advantage. Information about your competitors, your portfolio companies, and your clients is crucial to your success. Win-loss analysis provides critical information about how your clients make their capital allocation decisions. It also allows you to better understand the investment strategies that your competitors are using to attract clients. Historical investment returns are almost always a big part of the investor decision process, but relationships with sales personnel, fund fees, and fit with investment objectives can also play an important role. Knowing what your clients care about most and why they are allocating their funds to you (or to your competitors) could significantly increase your AUM.

Accounting Firms

What would it mean for your business if you could win just one more audit contract each year? Publicly available reports show that audit fees for Fortune 100 companies regularly cost tens of millions of dollars. Your clients might not be in this group of behemoths, but it’s likely that your firm’s average audit carries a price tag in the tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. With win-loss analysis, you can determine what drives businesses to choose their auditor, how the best auditors develop business, and how clients view your firm compared to your competitors.

Corporate Insurers

Big companies need big insurance policies to protect them against a myriad of potential losses that could affect day-to-day operations. These types of policies can come with hefty price tags, and winning one has significant consequences for your firm. What are the main factors that are influencing your customers’ choice of an insurance provider? Premium levels, coverage options, breadth of policy offerings, and other factors can all affect the buying decision. Win-loss analysis can help you determine how your customers are evaluating these factors and what makes them choose you over your competitors.

If your business involves large, complex, business-to-business transactions, win-loss analysis is the ideal tool for better understanding your clients’ purchasing decisions.

The examples shared above are only a small sample of the types of firms that can benefit from a win-loss program. Chances are that at least one of these examples bears some resemblance to your business. If you haven’t embarked on a systematic program to understand why you win and lose revenue-generating opportunities, consider that if your win-loss program helps you win just one more deal per year, the program will pay for itself.

For more information on how a win-loss program can benefit your business, go to www.clozd.com.