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Four Pillars of Effective Win-Loss Analysis

Andrew Peterson

What is Win-Loss Analysis?

For B2B sales organizations, win-loss analysis is the practice of capturing and analyzing the reasons why you win and lose sales opportunities.

It’s like film study for football teams. Great football teams use film study to review past performance (their own and their competitors) to uncover ways to improve performance in the future and increase the probability of success.

Like film study for football teams, 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. Effective win-loss analysis helps companies identify and prioritize critical product gaps, enhance sales training and messaging, improve marketing effectiveness, and foster strategic alignment.

As the business landscape evolves with new technology and industry competitors, you can rely on your win-loss analysis efforts to help you differentiate your unique value proposition and sharpen your competitive edge. At Clozd, our mission is to help your company win more using our innovative win-loss analysis services and technology.

Win-Loss Analysis Defined

A comprehensive win-loss analysis program systematically gathers insights from buyer interviews, surveys, and CRM data, then identifies and assess the factors that contribute to why you win or lose opportunities. The process entails an in-depth review of sales data and market research to understand buyer purchase behavior and perception. The end goal of a successful win-loss analysis program is to consistently gain actionable insights that can be used to enhance business performance at all levels. 

Win-loss analysis will also help you better know your competition. The information you gather will help you gauge the effectiveness of your competitors’ sales strategies, capitalize on their successful systems, and identify strengths and weaknesses in your own organizational processes by tapping into your buyers' experiences.

Using a buyer-first approach to identify your strengths, weaknesses, and immediate competition is critical. Clozd creates win-loss strategies with this in mind to help your business prioritize accordingly.

How to calculate win rate & win/loss ratio

The simplest way to determine your win rate is to calculate the ratio of deals won to the number of total closed opportunities. (A closed opportunity is a deal where a buyer has made a final decision, and you’ve either won or lost.)

Once you calculate your win rate by analyzing your win-loss ratio, you can get even more insight into why you’re winning and losing deals by adding context to your data.

For example, you can examine your win rate by team and study what your top performers are doing right, and turn those insights into a sales coaching program.

You can look at your win rate by industry to learn which prospects you’re most likely to close, and where you should be focusing your marketing efforts.

You can get an overview of your win rate by geography to compare trends in different sales regions and territories.

You can even study your win rate filtering by competitor. This will show you which companies you’re most likely to beat when you go head-to-head, and which companies tend to outperform you. This will allow you to create a sales and/or product strategy to step up your game, and win more deals.

When filtered correctly, and viewed with the right context in mind, your win ratio can provide you with tons of powerful, actionable insights that will help you win more.

To learn more about this, click here.

Win-Loss Analysis Best Practices

Well-executed win-loss analysis programs can help determine how you rank among the competition and how your customers perceive your offers. The practices listed below can help you get ahead and win more deals:

1. Identify Your Goals 

Most win-loss analysis programs start in an effort to solve a specific problem. You'll quickly realize as you conduct your win-loss program that every department can get value from the insights you gather. Here are some examples of common goals for a win-loss program: 

Increasing win rates 

Improving customer satisfaction 

Researching for future product development 

Your goals might also be more specific to your business and particular circumstances. 

2. Get Direct Feedback from Buyers 

The richest insights will come from the decision-makers for won and lost accounts. Leveraging a neutral third party like Clozd to conduct the interview can help your buyers feel more comfortable sharing their experience with your product or service. 

3. Identify Key Themes

Identify and track key themes in each win-loss interview. This includes the positive and negative factors influencing your market’s purchase decision and company-specific considerations (brand reputation, sales process, pricing, etc.).

4. Continuously Refine Your Business Based on Results

Ideally, win-loss programs should be an ongoing initiative. As your business evolves, there will be new issues to address. Refine your strategies based on the results and calibrate the program as you gain more customer data. This can help tailor your offerings to changing market needs, retain existing customers, and stay ahead of the competition.

Do You Know Why You 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 most businesses are casual in their approach to win-loss analysis. They neglect the practice because their leaders claim to "already know why we win and lose." But in reality, they probably don’t. Many leaders base their conclusions on a tiny sample of customer interactions and/or anecdotes they hear from the sales team - a biased and unreliable source of information. Research has shown that sales reps are wrong about why they win and lose deals more than 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.

The Definitive Guide to Win-Loss Analysis Cover
For a more in-depth introduction to win-loss analysis, including tips and best practices, download Clozd's comprehensive guide to win-loss analysis here.

The 4 Pillars of Effective Win-Loss Analysis

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

Likewise there are win-loss methods and tools that companies can 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.

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   

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Win-Loss Analysis

We often get asked these questions about win-loss analyses.

How do you do win-loss analysis?

Companies can initiate win-loss programs by analyzing their internal CRM data, conducting win-loss interviews on their own, or hiring a neutral third-party provider like Clozd. Opting for a third party is best as they provide unbiased feedback, typically receive higher response-rates, are well-trained in asking the right questions, and have the technology in place to deliver the results in a comprehensive format. 

How do you conduct a win-loss interview?

Win-loss interviews are frequently conducted over the phone, either internally or by a reputable third-party service such as Clozd. These interviews entail identifying the best leads to talk with, asking the right questions based on your goals, and recording key themes with each conversation.

How do I do a win-loss analysis in Excel?

An Excel win/loss sparkline can help you spot trends and patterns across a large dataset and visualize your win-loss ratio. Follow the steps below to create a win/loss sparkline next to your data: 

1. Select your data.

2. Click insert > Sparklines > Win/Loss. 

3. Select the data range you want to include in the analysis. 

4. Customize the colors and styles of your Sparkline for readability in the Style dropbox button in the Sparkline Tools Tab. 

Moving Forward 

Learning about the importance of a win-loss analysis for organizational growth is the first piece of the puzzle. At Clozd, our mission is to help your company implement an ongoing win-loss program to help you figure out why you win and lose, so you can start winning more.

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:

Or, visit www.clozd.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 you start winning more.

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