10 Do's & Don'ts for Win-Loss Reporting in Salesforce

Title: 10 Do's & Don'ts for Win-Loss Reporting in Salesforce

Presented by: Clozd

Featuring: Spencer Dent, Clozd Founder, Former Case Team Leader for Bain & Company

Date: May 27, 2020

Clozd's co-founder Spencer Dent shares 10 do's and don'ts for effective win-loss reporting in Salesforce CRM. Learn best practices for capturing win-loss data from your sales team that's shareable and actionable.


Spencer Dent

Founder, Clozd + Former Case Team Leader, Bain & Company

Spencer Dent is a founder of Clozd and a former Case Team Leader for Bain & Company's sales effectiveness practice. Spencer has consulted for hundreds of companies, helping them determine better ways to capture and report the real reasons why they win and lose sales opportunities.

Webinar Transcript

Braydon Anderson:                                    

All right, welcome to today's webinar. We're excited to have everyone here with us today. We're going to give everyone just a couple of minutes to join and we'll plan to start the webinar in about one to two minutes. However, while we wait for everyone to join, there's a great opportunity for you to win some Clozd swag. So simply go to clozd.com/webinarsurvey. And it's a one question survey just to see how well your win-loss program is right now. And then just a name, if you are a winner that we can send it to you. So go ahead and take this quick survey. We'll leave this up, going for the next one to two minutes and then we'll start the webinar.

All right. Thanks to everyone that took the survey as a chance to win some Clozd swag. Let's get started with the webinar. So as we begin, just a couple of housekeeping items, so we are recording this webinar and we will be sending this to all the registrants and attendees after the webinar. If you have questions, go ahead and use the chat box and we'll try to get through them throughout the webinar. And then if not, we'll try to find some time towards the end of the webinar just to answer any of those final questions.

Let's dive into this. So I'm Braydon Anderson, the vice president of operations here at Clozd. Today I'm joined by Spencer Dent, one of the co-founders of Clozd. We wanted to bring Spencer on today's webinar because of his experience with today's topic. Spencer received his MBA from Duke University, was a case team leader at Bain & Company for their go-to market and commercial excellence practice. And just prior to founding Clozd, was leading the demand generation, marketing operations and sales strategy operations at Qualtrics. Thanks for being here today, Spencer.  

Spencer Dent:                                          

Thanks, Braydon, appreciate it. Excited to do this.  

Braydon Anderson:                                  

And for the final introduction, that's Clozd. So Clozd is the leading provider of win-loss services and technology. And we're excited to talk a little bit more about win-loss today and specifically how it's applicable to you. So Spencer, with that, go ahead and tell us a little bit more about what we're talking about today.  

Spencer Dent:                                          

Yeah, so we're really excited to work with all the different companies we work with and we've learned a lot about the different challenges companies run into. And so today the goal is we're actually going to talk about some best practices and common pitfalls for collecting win-loss feedback from your sales team. Every single company tries to get a pulse on why they're winning and losing from their sales team. Some do it systematically and are collecting that information in their CRM. Some do it in a more of an ad hoc way. They walk the halls and walk the sales floor and ask, and just survey the crew to see what they're saying.

One of the reasons why it's so difficult for companies to really understand this is, there's not a lot of common shared best practices for how to approach it. And given the fact that we work with so many companies on this exact topic, we've seen a lot of great things that companies do, and we've seen a lot of just bear traps that companies step in over and over. So we thought we'd put this together for you as you go out in your organization and are trying to think about the best way to engage your sales team and to get feedback from your sales team about why you win and lose.

So one important thing here is these are practices and more principles. We're not going to give you a prescriptive way to approach everything within your org. Every organization is different and every organization has different needs that they should take into account as they design their program. But this is a good starting point with some principles that you can rely on as a basis.

So win-loss, what is win-loss? Win-loss analysis is the practice of systematically capturing and analyzing the reasons why you win and lose sales opportunities. Now, every company is trying to figure this out and some are more systematic about it than others, but ultimately there's three places you can go to try to get feedback. And I want to make sure I am clear about what these three things are. The first is just your CRM. And when I say your CRM, I mean the account and opportunity information that exists in your Salesforce instance that is not input by the sales rep. This account is an enterprise level account based in EMEA. This opportunity was for these products and it was won or it was lost.

This is information that's very factual for the most part. While some of it may be input by the sales rep, it is factual information that you can take that information and before you ever go ask a sales rep or a buyer why they did or did not choose you, you can go look at your CRM and you can say, just scan the landscape. What's our win rate overall? What does our win rate by region? What is our win rate by industry? What is our win rate by product line? Are there certain pockets of our business that we are more or less likely to be successful in? Ultimately, what the CRM will start to tell you is where your strike zone is, where you are likely to hit home runs and where you are not.

The second, the sales team. Now you may use components of your CRM to engage the sales reps, to figure out why you're winning or losing, and you can design something inside of Salesforce. But I would think about this differently from what is in your opportunity or account pages in Salesforce, it's more asking your sales team, "Why did we win? Why did we lose?"

Braydon Anderson:                                

And is this a conversation or is this within the CRM typically, Spencer?

Spencer Dent:                                          

Great question. Most often, it's typically within the CRM and frankly, in terms of scale, it makes the most sense to be within the CRM. It's just part of the workflow for how you close out opportunities.

Braydon Anderson:                                    


Spencer Dent:                                          

On big deals, you might want to talk to the reps, but let's say you have a company that has 50 sales reps that close out 50 opportunities per quarter. Do you have time to go have 2,500 conversations? So making it part of the sales process to where the sales reps have to provide the why for the outcome of the opportunity at the end of the sales cycle, that's what you do there.

The third source is the buyer. And at the end of the day, the buyer's the richest, most valuable source of information. They're the ones with the wallet. They're the ones who their perception is reality. So their feedback is rich. It's important. It's the most valuable of all of this, but it is costly to get, it takes resources, time, and money to get that feedback, and you can't get it on every single deal. So that's the disadvantage of it.

The right answer is not to choose one of these, it's to do all of them, but then balance that based on your organization. So if your organization does huge monster deals, call it $5 million deals, You should be talking to every single buyer about why they did or didn't choose you. But if your organization is doing smaller deals, and when I say smaller, I'm talking, let's say $5,000 deals. You should still try to engage buyers after every single opportunity, just know that you're not going to get as many of them to engage in an interview or a survey. And in that case, you're going to rely more heavily on your sales team to help you understand what's happening across your pipeline.

So today, having described those three channels to you all, today we're going to focus primarily on this sales channel. How do you engage your sales team coming off of opportunities? And this is near and dear to my heart because as somebody who worked very heavily in revenue operations at a fast growing SAS company, I know the challenges you run into here. And how do you engage sales reps? How do you get the feedback you need? How do you make it so that it doesn't overwhelm them? How do you get this information reported on and shared out, that's the focus of today. So as we dive into this, think of this primarily as, what do we ask sales reps? When do we ask it? How do we ask it? And then what do we do with that information to make it impactful for our org?  

Braydon Anderson:                                    

So there are tons of different options here. And I'm curious, Spencer, is there one that's most valuable, if you can say that there is one that's most valuable?

Spencer Dent:                                        

It's a great question, and people ask this all the time, but obviously the richest source of feedback is the buyer. The buyer, they're the ones that spend the money, their perception, whether it's right or wrong, is reality when it comes to whether or not dollars are getting spent. So they are the richest, most valuable source. That's why you should be running an interview and/or a survey program to your buyers about why you're winning and losing deals.

That being said, they are expensive to go after. It costs time, resources, you have to incentivize them to engage with you. And a great way to think about this is almost a layered approach. You go to the CRM and the sales team first, almost like a bloodhound to try to get a scent on where you should be targeting buyers. So for example, based off of what you're hearing from your sales team, it may tell you that there's a certain segment where something doesn't feel right, or there's a new competitor that's emerged. Then you go target your buyer research towards that segment to really get smart really quickly. So buyer's the richest, but it should be coupled with these others so that you get the most out of the buyer feedback.

So why is it so hard to get feedback from your sales team? Every single company we work with has tried or is trying to do this, and it feels like every single company recreates the wheel. They're all coming at this, they're trying to figure it out for the first time. Tell me if this story sounds familiar. You put something in place a year ago, you started to track it. Reps filled it out for the first month, then they stopped filling it out. And the reasons that were in there didn't really make sense once you started to collect it and you started getting holes poked in it by everybody who you tried to share the feedback with, so you basically gave up and you went back to the drawing board and you're in the process of redesigning this again. Sound familiar? Every single company deals with this, they're always recreating the wheel, always trying to figure out the best practice for how to approach it.

The second reason why this is hard is there's a lot of factors to balance when you design this process, and when you design what questions to ask, and when you think about how you want the reports to be delivered to people. It's not always really straightforward and simple when you want to engage reps to get feedback from them, and everybody struggles with what questions to ask, how to ask them, and that becomes a real challenge for companies. And then the report design. What am I doing this for? What am I actually going to get out of it? What's the deliverable? Many companies struggle thinking through each of those aspects and they fall down again and again.

Third point here is the designers, they don't have research backgrounds. And so, when I say the designers don't have research research backgrounds, these are people who have never actually done quantitative research. They aren't sure how to design questions. They aren't sure how to design the answers. They aren't sure when to do open-ended feedback versus close-ended feedback, and things end up being a little bit clunky.  

Braydon Anderson:                                  

I'm curious, when you say designers, what exactly do you mean by that?

Spencer Dent:                                          

That's a good question. Typically, the person who gets tasked to go do this is like a sales ops person, right? Hey Salesforce admin, go put some win-loss reasons in. Well, Salesforce admin and sales ops folks aren't always blessed with innate market research skills and they don't necessarily know what questions to ask or how to ask them. So they just make them up as they go, or they hear something that might be interesting.

And this is where you end up in a situation, Braydon, where people start asking questions that are nice to have versus need to haves. And you end up with forms that ended up being 25 questions long. And you know how many sales reps will fill out a 25 question, post deal, win-loss survey? Zero.

Braydon Anderson:                                  

Not very many. Yeah, not very many.

Spencer Dent:                                          

So it's making sure that you actually ask the questions so that you get the output that you want, start with the end in mind and back your way into, what do I need to ask in order to be able to know this?  

And then the fourth thing here is, relevant parties aren't engaged in the design or the output. And what do I mean by relevant parties? When I go do win-loss, I get feedback about my product. I get feedback about my pricing model. I get feedback about my company's reputation and brand. And so, if I'm on the product team, am I being engaged in the way that this is being designed by the sales ops team? And if I am being engaged, when am I going to be able to actually see the output?

One of the biggest mistakes people make in win-loss is they think it is department or function specific. So you have a product marketing team that thinks they own win-loss, and they're the only consumers. Or you have a sales team who thinks they own win-loss, and they're the only consumers. Or you have a product team who thinks they own this, and they're the only consumers. The reality is, there is no other type of feedback for a B2B organization that is more applicable to every single department than win-loss feedback. So you want to make sure you have everybody on board early on, that they're all bought into the process, and they're all getting access to the output. So you can actually change the output going forward and make differences and improve and win more.

So what does good look like? If you're doing this right, you have a few things going right, a few things that are working out really well. One, your reps are engaged, your reps are participating. They're filling out feedback. They're allowing you to cover your pipeline. The second thing that you have is the right level of depth in your feedback. And I put here practical, specifically for those of you that need to make sure that you walk a fine line here. So when I say the right level of depth, if you ask reps surface level, "Why did you win and lose?" And you get an answer of price, that's too shallow. You need to go deeper than the surface level of we lost on price, we lost on product.

The other side of that is, if you start asking your reps so many questions and very in-depth questions, and think of it almost like a logic tree, where if they say product, then ask them this question, and if they say this, then ask them this question, you're going to take them into this matrix of questions that's going to overwhelm them, and then you're going to have a big problem with participation. So what good looks like, you're getting the right level of feedback that's slightly below the surface level from the reps of why they think they're winning and losing, that allows you to directionally point your buyer research efforts.

Third point here, this needs to be part of your organization and how you operate, right? This isn't a once a month, once a quarter report that you pull out. operationalized reporting, where you're pushing this feedback out to relevant stakeholders consistently throughout your organization, that's where you have success. If the only time you look at your win-loss feedback is in your quarterly business review, then guess what? You're going to spend your quarterly business review trying to figure out why you win and lose instead of talking about what are we going to do to go win more based on what we've been hearing?

Fourth thing here, it's critical. Great win-loss is all about putting the feedback in context. So taking, here's what the reps are saying, and being able to filter and segment that based on your CRM data. So for example, I may be hearing from reps that we're losing because we are missing a certain security certification. Well, where is that true? Is it true across my pipeline, or is it only true within my healthcare segment because I'm not HIPAA compliant. That's an example of being able to take the feedback and put it in context, so you know how much of your pipeline this is actually impacting. So many companies take action on win-loss feedback without putting that feedback into context. So they end up tipping the boat for one to two deals, and then they wonder why that action never really led to the big impact that they felt that it would, or that they hoped that it would.

Fifth thing here is, you take this feedback, like I mentioned with the operationalized reporting in the third point. You take this feedback and you use it to inform your approach to engaging buyers. If you're hearing certain things from your reps over and over, you then want to go test those with your buyers to get a real in-depth viewpoint from them on what they think, and then you can either validate or disprove what the reps are seeing. And here's the key to that. Validation is great, because then you can have that much more confidence to move forward. Disproving is great because then you see where your sales reps are off and where they need training. So either way, coupling what you're hearing from your reps with what you're going to hear from your buyers is going to benefit you and help you move faster and get better.

Braydon Anderson:                                    

So Spencer, I'm curious, just really quick then. It seems like a lot of the aggregation of win-loss data that happens in Salesforce just happens sporadically. Maybe for just quarterly reports, but you're saying it makes more sense to how do we couple this on an ongoing basis? How do we push this data to relevant stakeholders, et cetera? Is that correct?  

Spencer Dent:                                          

Yeah. Yeah. So let me give you a good example of that. How many of you have had reps tell you that you're losing because there are certain functionality that the product's missing. And imagine being a sales rep and for the twelfth time in the last two quarters, you're marking a loss in your CRM, and you're saying it's because of a specific gap in functionality. How aggravating is it as the sales rep, when you find out and realize that the product team's never actually heard that, or seen it come through in a report, right?

Braydon Anderson:                                  

I'm sure it happens all the time.

Spencer Dent:                                          

Right? But guess what? Is it the product team's fault? The product managers don't even have Salesforce licenses. They're not able to look at this. So this goes back to this whole idea of when you design this, it needs to be operationalized, pushed to relevant stakeholders. So if I'm in charge of product, and this feedback is coming in from the sales team, I shouldn't have to wait until the quarterly business review to see that this is happening or to hear that this is coming up over and over with reps. That should be fed to me, whether it's in my inbox or through a Slack channel or however I engage and consume information. That information should be teed up to me in a way that makes it easy for me to go review it, know which reps I should talk to, which deals this occurred on. Be able to size it up and get it embedded into my product roadmap so we can go fix it.

So yeah, to answer your question, when you think about this, pushing it to the relevant stakeholders, the big mistake that companies make is they collect this feedback within their CRM, but it never gets out of their CRM to people that don't even necessarily have access to the CRM. So you won't get this information, put it in the hands of people that can do something about it.

Braydon Anderson:                                    

Yeah. Love it. Love it.

Spencer Dent:                                          

So let's go through this list, okay? We're going to give you guys some dos and some don'ts, and I'm going to go through, I'll give you a couple of punchy ideas to go along with each bullet point. So let's start with the dos.

First thing, keep the questionnaire brief. You want sales reps selling. You don't want them spending time filling out forms. So when you make a really long feedback form for your reps to fill out, don't be surprised when they don't participate and they don't fill it out. Keep it brief, I'm talking four questions, okay? Very simple, very straightforward, pretty easy.

Second point here. Allow them to select multiple reasons for the outcome. So I have personally conducted thousands of win-loss interviews. When I go talk to buyers, there is never a single reason why they did or didn't choose you. There's always one to two reasons at least, that are really, really important in the decision, right? The weighting of that may be a little bit different, but it's very, very rare that we chose to go with you because your product functionality. What it typically is, is we chose to go with you because of your product functionality, your pricing model really lined up to us, and we felt the sales team was committed to making sure we were successful. It's kind of a combination of things. So don't just focus on one thing. You need to give the ability to select multiple reasons for why they won or why they lost.  

Braydon Anderson:                                    

Right. And I bet if you were to look at most CRMs, especially because they can only select one, it's probably either going to be pricing, product, or other. And most of the times it's probably going to be a combination of all of those, or some other main key factors, right?

Spencer Dent:                                          

Right. So here's what actually happens. You give it to a sales rep and you have a dropdown of loss reasons. And the loss reasons actually don't even make sense because there'll be things like competitor, product gaps, pricing, sales approach, and guess what? You lost to a competitor because of product gaps and because of pricing. So if I'm a sales rep, what am I supposed to choose there? And so then you wonder why reps abandoned the stuff and they don't even fill it out, and you wonder why you can't trust it. It's because it goes back to this idea of you need to design it correctly in the first place so that it's clear and easy to fill out.

This next one, when you close out deals, this is a really important opportunity to confirm key information about the opportunity. Outcome. What did the buyer actually do? If they chose you, you know you won, but if you lost, well, did you lose to a competitor? Did they not do anything? Did they stay with their incumbent solution? What actually happened? So many companies focus on wins versus losses, but it's actually really important to know what type of loss you have. Are you losing to no decision, they're not spending any money, or are you losing to competitors? Those lead to two fundamentally, strategically different outcomes. One is, I have a problem with product market fit and I need to go figure that out immediately. The other is, I have a problem with how I compete. The dollars are there to get and I'm missing out on them. So that's the outcome piece.

The other piece that companies should validate at the end is primary competitors. So often, companies require sales reps to put a primary competitor, enter a competitor on an opportunity page within Salesforce at the very beginning of a deal, but they don't actually have them update it at the end of the deal. So then, by the time the opportunity is closed out, the rep's not gone back and updated who the competitor was from four months ago. So now you're getting a false positive on who the competitor was.

Then the last thing is the contact. You should make sure you figure out who was the primary person the rep worked with, for two reasons. First reason, if that rep leaves your organization, who should the person that takes over their territory contact when they try to revive this opportunity, right? Don't make him start over at ground zero. How about the right person? So validate that. The second reason is, if you know who the primary contact is and you validate it there, it makes it really easy for you as you move to the buyer research phase, to know who you should reach out to.

Braydon Anderson:                                  

Yeah. And Spencer, it's funny that you even have to mention this, because it seems like this should be a given, that we should know who the primary contact was. But at least in my experience, a lot of the organizations I've worked with, it's funny how hard it is to actually find the primary contact for an opportunity.  

Spencer Dent:                                          

Right. And the person who knows that and should know that, is the sales rep. So make sure that they give you that information as they close the opportunity out.

Another great do, ask them in their own words to explain the outcome. Don't make it more complicated than this. "Braydon, why did we win?" Or, "Why did we lose?" Make it really simple and let them type out their explanation. You should gamify this a little bit. And in an app that we've developed for Salesforce, we've put some simple gamification in there, where just based off of the number of characters, they get a positive or a negative, "Hey, you've done enough here." If they just write price, and you're their sales leader, you should be think about maybe reprimanding them a little bit. But ask them in their own words to explain to you what happened on the deal. That's huge, it's valuable. They can tell you in their own words.  

Next one here, use a consistent question set across all opportunities. So this may be counterintuitive for some people because they say, "Hey, I want to ask certain questions on losses that I don't ask on wins." The problem with doing that, is then you can't actually compare them one to another and be able to actually see the differences. The other problem with doing that is, as you proliferate the number of questions, and the different types of questions that you're asking, it makes it really hard to aggregate that feedback back together and report on it, and get any type of trending or understanding. The purpose of getting feedback from your sales team is to be able to have a barometer and to be able to trend things. If you want to be able to go deep and understand what's happening, use your buyer research for that. Sales rep feedback should be consistent forms that are easy to fill out, that make sense, that don't change very often, so that you can have a pulse on what's happening on the front line.  

Braydon Anderson:                                    

I imagine though, you mentioned different questions or across wins or losses, and it makes sense to keep those the same. What about different maybe business units or product lines? How would you go about that?  

Spencer Dent:                                          

That's a good question. You can do that. You can think about, on certain product lines we might ask about certain elements of the feature set and ask reps to tell us whether or not that was impactful. But again, be careful because for two reasons. One, the greater the proliferation, the harder it is to actually be able to report on the information. And two, some of the time, the type of feedback you even ask your reps for might be so nuanced or complex that it will overwhelm them.

So what I mean by that is, let's say I really want to understand every single potential reason why we may not pass some sort of security review for our software. And so I have a list of seven different compliance or regulations. There's HIPAA and there's PCI compliance and there's et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and those are all listed as things that I should rate. That's going to overwhelm a rep. It just is. So the simpler it is, the more straightforward it is, the better. And then if you have follow-up questions, you know what rep filled out the feedback, it's really easy to ask them.

Braydon Anderson:                                    

Gotcha. And then again, it makes sense, that's where you can dive into the buyer interviews.  

Spencer Dent:                                          

Exactly. Exactly. Next one here, you want to make this a standard part of the opportunity close out process. This shouldn't be something that reps are able to opt into. This is just part of your job. The reps need to have it built into the culture. Now, there's two things that matter here. One, you can systematically do this, make it a validation rule in Salesforce. You can't close out opportunities unless you fill out this feedback. Some workers need that, they definitely need all stick. Others you can use the carrot with, "Hey, listen, give us this feedback. We're going to give it back to you in the form of battle cards. We're gonna give it back to you in the form of win-loss reporting that's personalized to you." And that makes reps, because reps inherently tend to be very competitive people, actually pretty excited to participate and engage. But it needs to be habitual, and oftentimes it needs sales leadership buy-in to drive compliance and make sure that reps are filling this stuff out.  

Next one, you want to share the feedback with as many stakeholders as possible. The more you push this information out, the more powerful it becomes. The more it is easy to get people grounded in fact, and moving against the right objectives together because this is what we're hearing over and over and over. So you want to share it, not just with the sales team, share it with the other stakeholders in the organization, especially those that have decision-making responsibility to change things, such as product features or pricing model or company messaging. Maybe one of the things that's really challenging is we don't have any case studies in this specific industry. Well, if we keep hearing that over and over, let's get that to the person who's responsible for creating these case studies and have them go knock those out. So that that stuff's being a reason.  

Next one, you want to leverage your existing Salesforce data to add that context back to the sales rep feedback. So like I mentioned before, you're always going to want to be able to cut the feedback by specific metadata that exists on the opportunities anyway. So I want to know what my win rate is by the Americas versus EMEA. But I also want to know what my reps are saying in EMEA versus in America.  

Several years ago, I was at Qualtrics and we were opening up our European office and our APAC office. And we had different win rates across the Americas versus EMEA versus APAC. And it was super frustrating because we didn't have a consistent way for being able to say, why aren't we winning here versus here versus here? You'd hear from the reps, "Well, it's just different." It's just different selling in Europe, or it's just different selling in Australia, or it's just different selling to enterprise accounts in the US. Well, is it really? And the only way you can actually know that is by getting the right feedback in a consistent way across your org, and then being able to couple it with the opportunity and the account information, so you can tell what is really different or not different.

Next one, realize that simple, consistent feedback over time is powerful, right? You're not asking the reps to write essays. You're not asking them to spend 20 minutes after every opportunity, especially painful losses, explaining what happened. You just want a pulse on every single deal, cover your pipeline, and then be able to see over time what's happening and what's changing.  

Obviously this last one, you want to balance that feedback from the reps with feedback from buyers at your won and lost accounts. And you can do that via survey or interview. But at the end of the day, it goes back to this point I made earlier where you want to be able to take the stance of, here's what our reps are saying, here's what our buyers are saying. Where are we validating what we're hearing from the reps so we can have confidence to move and make the changes we need to make. And where are we disproving what the reps are saying, where we need to take a second, deeper look, or we need to do better training for our sales team.

So that's the list of dos. Let's jump over to the don'ts. First don't, don't use a single select pick list or a drop down, right? This goes back to this idea of allowing reps to select multiple things. A single select pick list or drop down is the first and fastest way to a) lose rep engagement, b) collect a bunch of useless data.  

Don't ask more than five questions. I'm telling you, sales reps are great. I love sales reps. It takes a very specific set of DNA to be a really successful sales rep. Part of that DNA is being able to turn the page and move on to the next deal when you lose. If you ask them too many questions, if you're trying to take up too much of their time, they're going to see this as not useful, and they're going to move forward. So be quick with the questions, don't ask them too many questions.

Third one here, assume that the rep will know the answer to an in-depth question. Do not assume that, okay? Reps don't know in depth, they don't know what the buyer was thinking. They're not psychologists. Many times, the buyers won't tell them the truth too.  

Braydon Anderson:                                

Yeah, and this has nothing to do with the intelligence of the sales rep. It's just, they most of the time don't know, right?  

Spencer Dent:                                          

Exactly. So here's two things that happen, if you ask them too many in-depth questions. One, they're going to be like, I don't know, why are you asking me this? And they're going to fall out and not give you any good feedback, so you lose any of the good feedback that you could get. The other thing that will happen is you'll actually start to get, I'll feel a little insecure as the rep, and I'll start giving you information that I think, or that I hope might pacify you, and I'll try to start to position this thing.

And so, this goes back to this idea of the right level of practical depth. If you ask too many questions, then you're going to get reps filling out information and just guessing, or you're going to get reps that are changing and massaging the way things are positioned to make themselves look good. And guess who's really good at doing that? Great salespeople, right? Great salespeople, it's the hardest job in the world, to be able to go into an organization where you have no authority and convince a whole bunch of people to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on your solution. They're good at this, right? So be careful that you don't ask for too much information that might persuade you way too far in one direction or the other. You'll either not get the info or you'll get again, information that can be misleading.  

Another thing here, don't ask reps to fill out more than one open-ended text entry question. One of the things that I've seen companies make mistakes on is they ask multiple open-ended questions to reps, and they also make it conditional. If they said this, then open-ended question. If they say this, then open-ended question.

There's two problems with that. One, the reps feel like they're back in seventh grade, filling out essay homework assignments, and they get disengaged and frustrated and they don't give you great feedback. Second, tell me who's actually going to read it? Who's actually going to go through and read? By the time you have your, let's say you have a sales team with 50 sales reps that are each doing 50 deals a quarter, wins and losses. Show me the sales rep or the sales leader or the product marketing person that's going to go read all 2,500 of those responses every single quarter. They're not. And so it's a waste of time, so just don't do it. One open-ended question at most and make sure that that one open-ended question has visibility and will be read by the right people.  

Don't create conditional questions. I alluded to this in the one before. It's really funny how there's just this tendency of if then, if then, if then. It's like we've all been writing too many Excel formulas in our minds. What happens if you create conditional questions that only appear when certain conditions are met? You actually confuse the sales reps about what they're supposed to give you. And surprises in form fill outs like this that are meant to be operational are not good. You want it to be really straightforward, really simple, same thing every time, so that reps just can make it a habit of what they're doing.  

Don't expect high participation rates without requiring participation or monitoring compliance. If you throw it out there, "Hey, reps fill this out. It'd be really nice if you could do this." They won't do it. So either force them through a validation rule in your CRM, or monitor compliance and make sure that there is accountability for providing the feedback. That has to come from the sales leadership team.

Braydon Anderson:                                    

And Spencer, with that, I'm curious because I feel like by doing that, that's potentially inherently force bad data if you're just requiring them. Because they are just going to say, "Hey, I want to just get this over with so I can move on." How do you help it so that the sales reps want to give good data, while also requiring them to do that?  

Spencer Dent:                                        

Great question. There's a couple of ways to do that. One, the form has to be simple, engaging, easy to do, right? "Look, it takes 90 seconds. You have five deals. This will take you seven minutes to fill it out, man." Reps will do that. So it needs to be an engaging, simple, repeatable form, so that you honestly are not asking that much of them.

The other side of this though, is the visibility that you provide. And so here's what I mean by that. How much information are you asking sales reps to put in to your CRM, that they have no idea what you're doing with it? I'd be pissed as a sales rep, I'd be upset as a sales rep, if I was asked to spend all this time and I have no idea what somebody is doing or not doing with it and it seems like a waste. One of the best ways to drive participation, obviously you need the stick. "Hey, this is your job. You need to do this. If you're not doing this, there's going to be a problem." But the other way is, give the information back to them. "Hey, guess what Braydon? Here's your win rate. Here's why you say we win and lose versus what the company says. And you might be off. Here's what your pipeline looks like versus the company. So actually you're facing this one competitor it seems like, more often than other people."

Helping provide awareness to them, helping them understand where they maybe differ or where they may be out of tune with what's actually happening is huge. And so, not just encouraging them to do it because it's their job, but helping them, "Hey, if you provide this feedback, we will give it back to you in a way that will help you be more aware and thus win more deals." Because at the end of the day, why am I collecting this? Because I want you to win more. And if the reps feel that, they're going to be pumped and more excited to participate.

Braydon Anderson:                                    

It's almost a form of reciprocation, essentially.  

Spencer Dent:                                        

Exactly, exactly.

Braydon Anderson:                                    

That's great.

Spencer Dent:                                        

This is one of the things that just drives me beserk is when companies collect incredible data and then they don't share it and they're afraid to share it, because of the way people might react. You know what, if you have information and it's accurate information, and you're afraid to share it, then you have a cultural problem in your organization and you should just blow right through that and be transparent. Sales teams, sometimes they intentionally do this. Oftentimes they unintentionally do this. This information just sits in Salesforce, buried. The right people aren't able to get access to it, or we don't want to share it out because we're afraid that we might upset somebody. Well, if this is actually what the reps are saying, then let's go do some buyer research to validate it. And if this is what the reps and the buyers are saying, who cares whose feelings it hurts, right? At the end of the day, this is what we got to do to go win more. This is what we got to do to be successful as a business. So we've got to be honest, both intellectually and with one another about why we're winning and losing, and not be afraid to look that in the face.

Next one, be careful to limit yourself to the native functionality or question design in Salesforce. Salesforce is great for collecting a lot of information, but it's not actually great as a survey interface, which is essentially what you're trying to do here. And so the dropdown options that you have in Salesforce aren't necessarily the most engaging things you could have. The reporting functionality that you have in Salesforce, while it can be powerful, there's certain elements of it that may not be as useful or applicable when it comes to win-loss. And so trying to figure that out on your own and how to jam it into certain Salesforce formats may or may not make sense. So, know that you can get outside of Salesforce's native functionality, there are apps that exist that can help you with win-loss. But there are also ways to push this information into other formats.  

Don't focus so much on question design that you forget about reporting, trending, and sharing. It's actually really funny. We've seen companies focus so much on designing the questions that are going to be in their win-loss survey to their reps, that six months later, they haven't actually collected any feedback. And so they don't even know if they're going to be able to report on it well. It's more important to get started, get collecting some feedback, and reviewing the feedback and then adjust your questions to make sure that the reports are insightful and valuable. At the end of the day, who cares what questions you ask, if you're not able to get that information into the hands of the right people?

Last one here for you to think about, don't assume that rep feedback is 100% accurate, and don't forget that you have the buyer and the CRM to rely on as two other sources of information. Remember, sales reps only know what they think they know, and buyers will withhold information from them. They will not want to hurt their feelings. They will withhold information from them because frankly, that's part of the game of selling and buying, of keeping your cards close to the chest and not being fully transparent about where you're at. So don't assume that the reps are accurate. Always validate what they're hearing, or disprove what they believe they're hearing through buyer sourced feedback.

This is super important, especially when it comes to major changes and major things that reps are bringing up or major investments. You want to make sure you always get the buyer perspective to see how much something is really impacting. And again, like I said, there's value in validation because then you can move forward with even more confidence. And there is value in disproving, because then you can see, then you can move that off the table and actually figure out what the root cause is.  

So reps are great. The way I would think about rep feedback is you are skimming the pool, getting just that surface level and slightly below feedback from your reps. But then if you want to go deep, you have to go to the buyers because the buyers at the end of the day are the ones that have the most robust and frankly powerful perspective, because they're the ones that have money and they're the ones that are spending.

So we've got some additional resources here if you guys are interested. When we send this out to you, we'll have these linked. So we created a blog post on this. It's a series of different things for you to think about as you design this in Salesforce. One is about which questions to ask, another is about how do you engage your reps? A third one is how do you design the reporting to drive action? We also have this video that you can look at. It's a video of an app that we've developed for Salesforce that shows you some of the components of what a best practice approach looks like. So I would definitely suggest you look at that, for no other reason than just to see what best in class looks like. And then if you are interested in using an app that's designed for this, you can check ours out on the Salesforce app exchange.

And at the end of the day, look, I eat, live, sleep, breathe, win-loss. So if I can be of any help to you, especially those of you that are in a sales ops, Salesforce, revenue operations capacity, trying to figure out how to do this. I've been in your shoes, so I know the challenges you face. So I'm happy to act as a resource, and talk shop with anybody who's dealing with these challenges. So that's all we got for you. Anything else, Braydon?  

Braydon Anderson:                                  

Spencer, thanks so much for your time today. This has been phenomenal and I hope it's been valuable to each of our attendees today. So again, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Spencer clozd.com, and we'd be happy to answer any questions for you and hope you have a great rest of your day. Thanks everyone.