How Product Marketers are Using Win-Loss to Crush Their OKRs

Win-loss Analysis made me a better product marketer."
Jennifer Lowenthal | Director of Product Marketing at Smartbear
Every year, the Product Marketing Alliance releases a report on the State of Product Marketing. This report is based on both quantitative and qualitative data gathered from hundreds of product marketers from all over the world with experience ranging from less than a year to over a decade. In that report, PMMs have self-reported that increased revenue, marketing qualified leads, and win rate are their three most common OKRs, which can all be significantly bolstered by running a comprehensive win-loss program.
Objectives and Key Results
Percent of PMMs
Generate New Revenue
Increase MQLs
Increase Win Rate

Of the most common OKRs used to measure a product marketer’s performance, the most common was to increase revenue; however, it can be difficult to measure product marketing’s direct impact on an organization’s bottom-line revenue. Product marketing sits in the middle of sales, customer success, product, and marketing. To produce revenue impact, the best product marketers provide revenue-driving insights to these teams. They also know how to persuade these teams that the insights they provide are going to help.

Often, these product marketers are using win-loss analysis programs centered around buyer feedback to cross-functionally influence strategic changes. Just as product marketing touches multiple internal teams, win-loss analysis helps these teams perform at a higher level. When they approach leaders of different teams with direct buyer feedback, they are more confident and have concrete evidence to support their insights. Libby Buttenweiser, former product marketing manager at Headspace, shares how she used win-loss analysis to influence the product team’s roadmap.

As your buyer feedback insights are incorporated into the product roadmap, demand gen strategy, and sales approach, more prospects will become happy, paying customers.

Win-loss analysis has upped my product marketing game. Implementing it was by far one of the best career decisions I've made."

Tirrah Switzer | Senior Director of Product Marketing at Community Brands

After revenue, increasing marketing qualified leads (MQLs) was the most common OKR for product marketers (40%). There are so many decisions that need to be made when creating effective lead generation campaigns (e.g. audience, messaging, creative, cost). Companies with comprehensive win-loss programs are seeing their campaigns improve, specifically around audience and messaging.

Win-loss analysis is helping companies further understand their audience. An extremely effective method to increase lead generation effectiveness is to refine your ideal customer profile (ICP). Having a refined ICP allows you to target your campaigns correctly. Campaigns dialed into an ICP will have the highest conversion rates and generate the most revenue. Rex Gailbraith, Head of Sales at Consensus, had this to say about how win-loss helped him refine his ICP, “[Clozd] made us more confident in our ICP. I would say for our UCP, our ‘unideal customer profile,’ we know exactly what a bad prospect is now… It validated a lot about what we thought, and it makes us more confident in our lead generation and demand funnel. [Now we know] that if our UCP comes through, we need to alter an algorithm or our approach to what we are doing.” An additional benefit to dialing in your demand strategies to your ICP is that you’ll retain more of these customers. Many product marketers are measured by customer retention as well. Win-loss analysis is helping them do a better job of bringing in the right customers from the beginning, reducing churn.

One of the things that we can really use win-loss going forward is our new messaging framework. We will be able to see how it is resonating."
Jason Klein | Product Marketing Director at Alteryx

Messaging is the other primary way companies are using win-loss to improve their campaigns. Thorough win-loss analysis provides quotes to use for content, proves and defines your value proposition, and helps to refine your competitive messaging. Jason Klein, Product Marketing Director at Alteryx, shared with us that through win-loss insights he noticed prospects getting confused about how Alteryx was different than the competition. Using that insight he launched a new messaging framework that makes Alteryx’s value proposition clearer. This improved messaging should help Alteryx’s demand generation efforts, and they’ll use win-loss to monitor the impact.

Win Rate

The most successful product marketers are using win-loss analysis to improve win rates. You need to identify which factors are contributing to that win rate, either positively or negatively. These factors range from pricing & packaging to the sales team’s empathy to individual product features. The best way to find which factors are boosting your win rate and which are detracting from your win rate is, again, conducting win-loss analysis.

Once you have begun conducting thorough win-loss analysis, you can identify trends across your sales pipeline. You can see how different features or sales tactics appeal to different buyer personas. You can verify your hypotheses so that you are more confident approaching different leaders across your organization and have concrete evidence to back up your strategic input. You are able to create specific content for the sales team to use, like battlecards or slidedecks, to address both the weaknesses and the strengths you find. As your company's strategy becomes more refined, win rate will increase.

We were able to better understand how to talk to a new buyer persona and adjust to our shifting market ... Win-loss analysis made me a better product marketer."

Jennifer Lowenthal | Director of Product Marketing at Smartbear

Jennifer Lowenthal, Director of Product Marketing at Smartbear, shared how she used win-loss analysis to increase SmartBear’s win rate. She had hypothesized that the market was shifting, and with that shift, they were running into a new buyer type that cared more about a specific feature than previous buyer types. She believed that SmartBear’s messaging was not keeping up with the change. As the buyer feedback began coming in, it became clear that SmartBear was losing deals with this new buyer type. One buyer specifically said they didn’t purchase SmartBear because they didn’t have the feature in question. Lowenthal was frustrated because not only did SmartBear have the feature, it was a strength of the product. They quickly adjusted the sales team approach when this new buyer type was involved. After making the necessary changes, Lowenthal said, “We started to see our win rate increase when this new buyer type was at the table. We also became more competitive against the primary competitor that the new buyer type preferred in head-to-head deals.”

Product Marketer Success

Set aside for a second the product marketing OKRs your company is measuring. If done correctly, win-loss analysis can be one of the most versatile and powerful tools in your arsenal and can help you be a better product marketer. The value win-loss brings to an organization so closely mirrors the value a product marketer brings that it makes a natural partnership. As you begin to crush your OKRs the same way other product marketers have because of win-loss, you’ll become an invaluable asset to your organization.‍

I've been on a good career trajectory here at Alteryx ... I don't think I would be here as quickly without win-loss analysis. Me being 'the win-loss guy' has accelerated my career growth."

Jason Klein | Product Marketing Director at Alteryx

Here are some resources to help you get started with win-loss.