Fireside Chat: The win-loss data is in, so what next?

Transcript

Cam Mackey :                                          

Welcome to the next session, the Win/Loss data is in, so what's next? My name is Cam Mackey and I'm CEO with SCIP, the Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professionals, and we're the nonprofit that supports the community of market and competitive intelligence leaders. It's my honor to introduce my speaker today, Ilya Leybovich, for VMware, he's been an engineer, services consultant, and operations change agent for over 15 years, primarily with software companies. He's helped directly influence over $15 million in revenue from startups to Fortune 500 companies, and now at VMware, he has what I consider a pretty awesome goal, and that's to establish a world-class competitive function. Ilya, welcome. Great to talk to you today.

Ilya Leybovich:                                        

Cam, thank you. It's a pleasure to be here, and it's a pleasure to meet you as well. So I ran Win/Loss analysis at multiple companies, mostly software. Everything from little startups to major enterprises, and Fortune 500 companies. And I'd like to share with you some practical points that I've learned from running Win/Loss. Not as a professional, but as an average person, if you get a chance to run Win/Loss, a few things that you can expect to do that will really, I think, highlight what the results you would get from that analysis.

Cam Mackey :                                          

So, we're going to start here, and this makes the assumption that you've already collected your Win/Loss data. So as you can see here, the raw data is in, what do you do now? Short of just sending, Ilya, an Excel dump of all the data to senior management, what do you recommend the plan is to find out what the numbers actually mean, let alone what we should do differently?

Ilya Leybovich:                                        

So, the first thing is, when you run Win/Loss, you got to have a plan. And you want to have a plan not only for collecting the data, but what do you do with it once you get it in already? So, you spend some thousands of dollars on the Win/Loss and you have some really good interviews, the first thing you guys got to do is save those things. Save both the interviews, as well as the transcripts if available. That's invaluable data. That's data you can come back in months and look through as market conditions change, especially now with COVID, you can look for the data in a couple of different lenses and understand really what's happening in there.

But once the raw results are in, you really have about a 14 day cycle to really get people's attention. After that, everybody's busy. Everybody has their own priorities, they're going to start moving on to other things. So your job is, in those 14 days, really produce something that gets the ball rolling on, and gets people interested in what you have found. Now, people are busy. Everybody has things they've got to accomplish. So your job, really, is imagine you're running yourself a mini startup within your company. You've got to market those results, you've got to distill those results, and you've got to do a readout.

And when you do the readout, what I really suggest you guys do, is you invite the consultant who helped you with the Win/Loss. Usually somebody is responsible for either conducting the interviews or coordinating them into different trends, have the person co-present with you. That both gives them a great visibility into your organization, as well as gives the folks that you're [pitching] into a chance to ask questions from somebody who interacted directly with your prospects and customers.

Cam Mackey :                                          

That's great Ilya. I imagine if you have to deliver bad news, it's always good to have someone else in the room too, right?

Ilya Leybovich:                                        

Absolutely. I loved working with [Cloves]. Those guys who are able to conduct the interviews and get past the no. The big thing about people like me, if I get on a phone with a customer and the customer says, "You know, I found nothing interesting", it'd to be a five second interview, it'd be a two minute interview. I mean, the guys at Cloves, they got really past all the nos and really got people talking about what they liked, what they didn't like, really understood what it helped, as well, my team understand what was happening in their minds as they were going through the decision making process, for both the opportunities that we want and opportunities that the customer chose to go for another vendor. So we understood what really are the use cases that really are hot for us, as well as some of the use cases that we got to decide what to pursue those or do we want to pursue and what our core competence needs to be.

Cam Mackey :                                          

That's great. Maybe Ilya, taking again the executive perspective where we don't have a lot of time, we need to just keep it straight and to the point. How do you recommend showing some of the key insights from Win/Loss project in a way that's understandable that will actually affect change?

Ilya Leybovich:                                        

So step one guys, as I said, schedule a readout. So get the folks who are going to be impacted by this Win/Loss analysis into a room, include folks from engineering, absolutely sales, marketing, and if you guys have a post-sale support organization, those guys should be in the room too, just to hear what's going on. Keep it simple. Four or five slides, keep it very visual, keep things at a high level. You're going to need the backup in case people ask questions, but really you need three or four slides, half an hour to get them the direct points. Here's a slide that I used before. Just to show, hey, if you think of it as just the sales funnel, how did people find us? What did they experience as they went through a trial? The things that are always questions around, pricing comes up and as well as, "Gee, are we seeing the different dynamic both in our prospects, as well as in our customers that we want to retain?"

For a software organization, it's super important to keep existing customers. It's much cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to bring a newer customers along. So all those kinds of dynamics you can expect to get of a Win/Loss analysis. Now, the other point I want to make, depending on how strong your sponsor is for the Win/Loss analysis, if, let's say, you were told by a manager, say, "Hey, go do this and see what you can find." You can expect one kind of results. If you have, let's say, your CEO or VP of sales come to you and say, "Hey, listen, we're having this problem, let's figure out what's going on." You're going to have a very different set of results and an ability to drive change through your organization. Either way, you got to have some ways for showing these guys in a very simple high level way what's going on and be ready for them to ask you lots of questions about why things are happening here? Why just the trends you guys saw?

Let me give you guys one example. So I was consulting a smallish company and they had to make a decision. Do we go with a built-in database, like a venue, or do we have the option of our users to have a Oracle database? Something that they usually can imagine themselves and easily move the data into the data warehouse. Within smaller companies, there was a lot of people with strong opinions, and a lot of tribal knowledge, and it's sometimes hard to figure out what's the right decision. Now there's pros and cons for lots of approaches, and for the company that I was consulting with, there were those decisions. The VP of engineering said, "Listen, we should need to build it ourselves, we can optimize the database. That's the go-forward approach."

The VP of sales was saying, "Hey, listen, I'm hearing from our customers that we need to be able to support third-party databases. The data is being big and our customers want to be able to optimize the data the way they see fit. They have their own processes." And really they needed a way to kind of break the bottleneck, and break those ties, they couldn't go back and forth. And when we did the Win/Loss analysis, what really came out with, is that the existing customers who were asking for an internal database, whereas the smaller customers. [Inaudible] the company was to really break into the larger market and the folks that they were going after with, the bigger enterprises, were looking for an enterprise class database.

And when that decision came in, it became simple. It was no longer a decision of Google versus internal database versus a third party database. It was like, "Where do you want to grow our business? Where is our strategic direction going to be?" And I mean, decision to an external database, because that's what their enterprise customers, that's what they're trying to break into. Those were the things they wanted to see.

Cam Mackey :                                          

That's great Ilya. And I love what you said about the tribal knowledge. I think on the next slide, you're going to talk a little bit about an example of this. Maybe, share some comments on how you can use Win/Loss data to highlight a disconnect between what that tribal knowledge is in the organization versus the customers.

Ilya Leybovich:                                      

Cam, thank you. Great setup. Let me show you how to do that exactly. So as part of your Win/Loss, we should always ask, here are my questions, or here are kind of data trends that I'm seeing within my data. You need to always ask your customers, how important are the things that I'm asking you in your buying decisions? You might be surprised that the customers are buying you for information not exactly what that you assume them to be, and that's okay. I mean, markets change, customer change, you're always trying to get to the next, the bigger you, so you find it really grow your company. I mean, for example, there was a small company who sold to Walmart. And this company thought that, "Hey, what's our core competence? Our core competence was that we have a good product and we have good marketing."

And one of them asked the biggest customer, "Walmart, why do you guys buy from us?" It came out to, "You guys deliver on time and you guys have very low rate of returns." Those two things was the number one concern to their customer, was completely blindsided that when they would go with those answers came in. This happens all the time. Tribal knowledge is great. Tribal knowledge is what keeps your company DNA alive. But tribal knowledge also is what kind of needs to be tested from time to time, as you're trying to grow your company. As you get more and more people, more and more ideas, especially from like a Win/Loss analysis, you got to find out is your tribal knowledge really holding you back, because the customers that you're selling to right now, and the customers who you're trying to break into might be the same thing.

Are you really a product company, or are you changing into a more of a service company? Those kinds of decisions, our Win/Loss analysis can tell you. And they can tell you by comparing what your customers, your existing customers, value in their buying process versus what your prospects are kind of more, let's call them your enterprise customers, value in their buying decisions. Those two things, if they're the same, wonderful. You're golden. Proceed to do what as you're doing it, you're validating your approach. But if those, if a Win/Loss analysis shows that there's a difference between those two things, you better go back and ask some more questions. Am I really selling what I think I'm selling and how do I make sure that I re whether I retain my customers over time?

Cam Mackey :                                          

That's great, Ilya. Yeah, no, I think it's a fantastic point about bringing that outside perspective in, and sometimes debunking the internal, conventional wisdom. So let's maybe talk about, we have these insights, right? You know, we we've collected the data. You've started to distill them down to insights and key takeaways. What frameworks out there can you recommend to help actually figure out number one, what do we do next? And number two, how do we rally enthusiasm in the organization around the changes, which is, I don't need to tell you, sometimes change is hard.

Ilya Leybovich:                                        

Changes are definitely hard. So the thing about Win/Loss, guys, is don't expect the insights to jump right out at you. It's rare that it happens. Usually it's your job to distill what you have into a set of recommendations. The folks that you would be doing Win/Loss from are great at gathering the data, but most of the time, they don't have the business context to translate those results into actionable things for your organization. That's your job. Win/Loss, a lot of times, is also backward facing it, validates what you did to take that to what am I going to do with those results? It's really useful to have a framework. And there are a couple of frameworks out there that I've used, I'm sure there are plenty of others, that help you explain and put, really let me connect the dots. I guess I've been within what you're seeing now and what companies in your industry have seen and what you can expect to see going forward.

The first model I'm sure will be folks have heard of called Crossing The Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. It's a very popular model. And the model says that, hey, as the market evolves, you go from a small set of early adopters, folks who are really interested in like new, cool stuff. And at some point you get to a point where you validate your idea and you start seeing, Hey, there's a market out there for my idea. And then you see more competitors come in and trying to kind of also penetrate the market as well as the kind of customers are selling to. Those guys are going to also change. You got to get folks not looking anymore for the hot, new idea, but folks who are going to be interested in taking the idea that you have and fundamentally changing their business with it, getting a competitive advantage.

Think about 10 years ago. Can you imagine having an app on your phone to do banking? That was completely unheard of, but any bank you talk to right now that doesn't have a digital presence, it's not going to be around there for very long. These kinds of transitions in the market are captured by the Crossing The Chasm model. So you're able to take the Win/Loss announcing take a look, what are my customers thinking about now? And what are they going to be kind of thinking about later? What kind of things am I going to need influence my customers. Do I need case studies? Do I need just to show them that my idea is cool and different? What do I do, an ROI analysis? What's going to make my customers come to me versus talking to somebody else. Those are the kind of things that Crossing The Chasm can show you.

You don't have to be the smartest person in the room. This models helps you understand based on hundreds and hundreds of interviews done by Jeffrey Moore to understand how the market changes. It'll help you really understand, if I'm not seeing the sales results, I'm seeing, why? If my customers are coming, asking for this, what does it mean? If I'm seeing my competitors getting acquired by, what does that mean? What else can I see the next month? What [inaudible] need to include.

The other model called Market Maturity, I've also kind of stumbled onto, but it's an amazing model. It, from a marketing and sales perspective tries to explain, what kind of collateral and what really works best on folks. So what do we need to talk about? I used to produce white papers and I talked about features and functions. We're doing great. I'm seeing my leads go up. I'm seeing people buy the product. Life is great. Half a year later, my sales goal is double. And for some reasons my customers are not coming to me anymore. And they're complaining about more things. What's going on?

Chances are you're no longer where you were. The market has matured. You're going from talking features to function, to talking more about the user experience. So you're not going to talking about, "Hey, I have this new feature that nobody else," has because everybody might have the same feature now. But just talk about, because you're using my product, you can enable these business things. And those kinds of things appeal to a broader customer base. We're going to be talking about things like maybe like de facto standard and how well we support you. Those are the kinds of things that bigger customers are looking for.

Now, at that point, you realize the market is maturing. Let me go see, what can I do? Based on a lot of people's experience, how they sell into those larger markets, it might be need to bring in some extra consulting, help to figure out what's going on, but at least you'll understand why what I'm doing is either effective right now or what needs to be changed. And that's not your opinion. This is third party validated opinions. And that makes you a lot more intelligent when you're presenting results.

Cam Mackey :                                          

I love that. I love that comment about it being third-part validation, especially because so many of the issues that you're raising, Ilya, these changes about which markets are attractive, where do you want to fund the marketing or product development investment. These are pretty senior level decisions that need to be made. And so one thing I'd ask for your thoughts are, especially in big corporations, they have a lot of initiatives going on and there's that risk of flavor of the month. And so what do you recommend doing to re-engage to get back on the radar screen of the internal stakeholders so that they're engaged and focused and the proposed changes don't live and die on their desks.

Ilya Leybovich:                                        

Cam, great question. So some companies are lucky to have a competitive analyst on board, but a lot of times Win/Loss is just being given to product manager or product marketing manager, just say, "Hey, I've worked with companies that had an industry analyst firm come me and said, you guys need to do a Win/Loss to understand what's going on. Why are you not winning deals?" A lot of people spend a lot of money with industry analysts and they ask the question, they get a question in response. A lot of times the question is, "What did Win/Loss say? So Win/Loss also is both great at kind of help you internally understand things, as well as helping you kind of provide something with industry analysts.

And at that point, so you do your Win/Loss, you do your readout, you have a bunch of initiatives that you recommend. A couple of weeks pass it's time to re-engage with your stakeholders to figure out are they actually working on the initiatives that you've proposed or have they took a look at them and now kind of got distracted into something else. One way I've done this, and I think this works really well, is to take a couple of things that your company did well and and send out of several targeted emails, the owners of that business.

For this particular case, I've sent this kind of email to our VP of services and said, "Hey, listen, a couple of results that said that your team is amazing. They are super knowledgeable. They are really good at working with customers. Here are a couple of quotes, share this with your team." Everybody likes to share good news. This is a way of kind of them promoting that. "Hey, listen, guys, we had this project and did really good." It makes them hungry for more information, for more praise to provide to their team because it brings morale up. It also helps boost internal confidence. It's great.

So now you have a hook to go back into them and say, "Hey guys, remember this project, the Win/Loss project. Here's some good things that came out of it. Let's have more wins. Let's talk about the those solutions we talked about during our readout, and let's see if we can get any more positive points out of those." Works really well. And you can target this email to sales, to marketing, to engineering. It's really works great. And you also be really good, like having the bottom, click a link to the recording, so they can hear directly from the prospect saying, praising their team. Executives love that. It works wonders. Positive reinforcement is usually a lot better than the other way around.

Cam Mackey :                                          

I love it. Especially cause sometimes the insights from Win/Loss, they might stay a little bit, right? So I love that message. Maybe our last slide here, Ilya, I love the title. It's, "Where is the ROI hiding?" And so, as I was thinking about our conversation, it occurs to me Win/Loss is kind of like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. Apologies to Forrest Gump, and whoever wrote that film, but you make a great point that there are a lot, there's a lot of good information in there and including things you didn't know you were going to find. So maybe comment on taking advantage of that awesome opportunity to find and to use some of these hidden insights.

Ilya Leybovich:                                        

Yep. So Win/Loss, I mean, when I run it or when you should use to touch many different functions. And some of the things that you might consider doing with a Win/Loss data you have is, let's say, voice of the customer initiatives, this is a great way to feed directly from what the customer is saying. You have them, lots of requotes, anonymous quotes, or possibly even, have the consultant as you're building your Win/Loss, or doing the Win/Loss interviews ask, "Hey guys, do you mind giving the public reference?" Again, go think about the plan when you execute a Win/Loss, you got to have a plan, not only for getting the interviews, but what you're going to do with them. If you're a small company, or if you're a company who's struggling to get references, do a Win/Loss. Ask the question, "Is it okay for you to consider giving a public reference?"

Even if you get a couple, that really justifies the price of getting a Win/Loss. I've had companies give away product for free in order to get public references. A Win/Loss is much cheaper than giving away product for free, honestly guys. I've had Win/Loss as a great training tool for SDRs. We bring guys by out of college, you can do cold calls. And another to themselves before they get promoted to kind of more named accounts or, but having these guys hear a conversation with actual customer talking about what they like, what they don't like, as well as how did the sales person interact with them, that's gold for these guys. Then it really helps them understand what's going on in the customer's mind.

If you think about it, if you're an SDR, you do 50, 60 calls a day. Most of the time you hear it, "Sorry, don't care, goodbye." But to have a customer open up to them and it's... I've seen these guys really shine. They're like, "Oh, that's what I can do. That's what I can ask. That's what I can focus on." Invaluable. Definitely brings up the ROI from the Win/Loss analysis.

The other thing Win/Loss can help you understand is when you're building a product, are you building this product to attract new customers or to retain customers? Where's that balance? Does the balance needs to be shifted at all? How has your churn rate look looking at? Are you looking both at your lead generation rate as well... Which is great, I mean, you want to get the funnel as much as you can in the door. Once you get the customer in, are the customers thinking about churning? Are they thinking... That's part of Win/Loss I always ask. Are you considering looking at other vendors? That way, before we knew will comes in, you have several months to figure out is that the customer healthy or is the customer thinking about looking at other vendors? This can save existing accounts, especially large accounts.

If you can save three or four a large accounts a quarter, your Win/Loss pays for itself 10 times over and guys that's where the ROI is hiding. Don't think of Win/Loss is just a one-time thing. It's not. It's like an octopus that has tentacles going everywhere to. Into engineering, to as public references, to sales training material. It's really up to your imagination, how they use this information. This information does have a shelf life, but even six months after, go back to it, listen to it with a different lens, figure out, "Hey, did I miss something? Okay, this customer that I talked to was happy, but now churn, was there something in those interviews that could have helped me prevent this from happening? Is there anything that I need to do or ask other existing customers that might be on the verge of churning that I can possibly save?"

Cam Mackey :                                          

No, it's fantastic. I think it's really eye-opening right. That you might start the project with the intent, basically how can we sell better? Which in itself is as a recovered sales guy, I'll give two thumbs up and say, that's a great goal, but I love what you're saying, Ilya, that it really can kind of drive a lot of stuff in the organization between product development and other things. And so it's a really empowering message. On my end. I'd like to thank you. I love the comments you made about Win/Loss and its potential to really have an impact on the customer and on the enterprise. Maybe one final question I'd ask for you. If you had to summarize in a couple sentences, the biggest opportunity that you see for Win/Loss, what would you suggest it is?

Ilya Leybovich:                                        

I think... Great question. I think the biggest opportunity for Win/Loss would be on the sales side, would be to understand exactly what is the priority of things in customer minds, that you are pitching, that they value. You got to understand Win/Loss is all about customer first. Your customer is telling you, this is what I like, this is what I don't like, focus on the positive things. Focus on attracting your customer and retaining them. Use the Win/Loss as your retention tool for the customer.

Cam Mackey :                                          

Love it. Yeah. It's conventional wisdom. It's great until it's wrong, right? Yeah. So about why you keep your customers, you might not know. So that's a powerful message.

Ilya Leybovich:                                        

Yep. I've attended multiple SCIP sessions in the Boston area, and I've been surprised to see there's folks from all across the spectrum, lots of different industries and they both have, well they all have the very common set of questions. "How do I know what my customer is thinking? And how do I get that information in a way that's affordable to me?"

I think Win/Loss is an awesome tool for that. I mean, customers will, if you call them up and say, "Hi, I'm from company XYZ. Can you tell me about my product?" They'll try to tell you what you want to hear. But if you're a third-party consultant who understands how to get past all those things, the customer will really open up and tell you things like, "You know, I wish the sales guy would have done just a little different." Or, "When I was on the phone and I talked to your support engineers, they told me about this cool new features. Why didn't I hear about this before?" Those kinds of things customers will share in a Win/Loss interview where they won't share it with you directly.

Cam Mackey :                                          

Yeah. And it's priceless. Thank you, Ilya. Thank you so much. Appreciate you sharing all your great experience and lessons learned with everyone. And SCIP, we're happy to support Win/Loss week and keep on fighting the good fight, Ilya.

Ilya Leybovich:                                        

Thanks guys.

Cam Mackey :                                          

Thank you.

Ilya Leybovich:                                        

Good luck out there.

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