Tips for Choosing a Win-Loss Analysis Vendor


Braydon Anderson:  

Welcome to this session of WinLossWeek, the world's largest online event dedicated to win-loss analysis. My name is Braydon Anderson, and this event is hosted by Clozd. We'd for sure like to thank all of our partners who have been such a huge help making this event such a success.

The title for this session is Three Tips for Choosing a Win-Loss Analysis Vendor. Today we're joined by Neha Shah. Neha is the director of product marketing at Salesforce Pardot. In her role, she drives product positioning and solution messaging for Salesforce's B2B marketing offerings. Neha holds a BS in computer science and finance from Rutgers University and has an MBA from Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. Neha, thanks so much for being with us today and sharing these ideas.

Neha Shah:                                            

Thanks, Braydon. Hello everyone. I am Neha Shah, director of product marketing at Salesforce, and I'm very excited to be here presenting at the WinLossWeek. prior to joining Salesforce, I've had multiple product marketing roles at technology companies, and I'm very passionate about leveraging data driven techniques to drive superior customer engagement. Let me first start by saying thank you. I want to start by acknowledging that we are in a world where we find ourselves right now, not in one, not two, but multiple crisis at the same time. We are in the midst of public health crisis, economic crisis, and social crisis. This virtual event today demonstrates that we find ourselves in an all virtual work-from-anywhere world. So thank you again for taking the time to join us today.

In my current role, I drive product positioning and solution messaging for Salesforce's B2B marketing offerings. My team has three core focus areas, one, to drive differentiated product positioning as we bring new products and solutions to market, second, to create content and resources to really enable and equip our sales teams to successfully close deals, and the third one is around planning and executing on programs and campaigns that drive demand across different segments, industries, and region.

With that background, let's start with what is win-loss analysis. Win-loss analysis is a strategic and programmatic approach that focuses on gleaning actionable information to synthesize quickly and accurately in order for us to guide future sales effort as well as product and service enhancements. Let's double click into what that means. By strategic and programming approach, this really means it's a formal and rigorous and in-depth program to gather strategic intelligence. Actionable information really emphasizes that you're getting the qualitative and quantitative unbiased feedback that you can take it, understand what is important to your target buyers.

Quickly and accurately really underscores the importance of real-time and up-to-date information, so that as an organization you can invest in areas that will have created this impact across product marketing and sales. And future sales efforts really stresses the fact that win-loss process has a tremendous positive impact on increase in win rate. Now that we went over what win-loss analysis is, let's look at, how does it help us? Why is it important? The first and foremost reason is it just helps you form strategic alignment. It aligns executive teams across marketing, sales, and product to make more informed decisions. It gives them data points to make those decisions more quickly and also data points to act on them with confidence.

The second key reason is it helps improve win rate. Formal win-loss analysis helps inform key drivers for closing new business, gives sales teams and edge with timely feedback, and can improve win rate as much as 50%. It also helps hone product strategy, i.e., it gives insights to product teams around areas to invest in that will have the greatest impact. And at the same time, it helps minimize some of the product investment risk in other areas. More importantly, it also helps capture market and competitive intelligence. It gives unprecedented visibility into competitive landscapes by exposing critical insights about competitors' products, service, pricing, messaging, et cetera.

And last but not the least, it really helps you refine messaging and content. It really deepens marketing team's understanding of buyer preferences, needs, intention, and buying criteria. So one would think if the benefits of the win-loss analysis programs are so high, you'd think that every company would have a program in place. However, it is very critical to find the right partner for executing this win-loss analysis program successfully and teams and organizations face a lot of challenges in selecting, not just a win-loss vendor, but truly the win-loss partner, the win-loss analysis partner.

One of the top challenge that I hear all the time is, how do you differentiate between different offerings that different win-loss vendors provide? Second one is really trying to understand the pricing. Different vendors have different pricing proposals. Some charge by price per interview. Some have additional charge for software, and it's really hard to select which price or cost analysis would really benefit your organization at scale. And then third, and most importantly, how do you ensure that vendor's methodology will fit your business need?

So I have selected win-loss vendors and implemented win-loss programs into different technology companies for SAS products, and here's my perspective on what are some of those three key factors that one should look for when selecting win-loss vendor. The first and foremost, and one of the most important factor is team and vendor expertise. Having a dedicated win-loss advisor or consultant with significant management consulting background or relevant industry experience is very critical.

It is critical because they will help you design the program, but also they will be conducting the interviews and helping design the questionnaire for that interview. And this is very critical because this is where you get the qualitative aspect of the data. The second important factor is the methodology. Can they tailor the recommendation for different business segments? Then can they do it at scale? That means can they do it for different choose, different sales teams, different go-to-market segments, like SMB, commercial enterprise.

And then when we talk about scale, it is also important to look for a vendor that has a platform that can scale to provide tailored recommendation, and that goes back to original win-loss definition, where we highlighted the importance of actionable insight, both qualitative, as well as quantitative, and that we are able to synthesize quickly and accurately. So with that, let's double-click into each of these areas.

So when we think of team and expertise, it's really important to look for process and consistency. First and foremost, you should ask if there's going to be a dedicated win-loss consultant for your team or organization, and this consultant should be more like an extension of your team, one who can master your product, your service, your offering, and really understand the market you play in. As we think of consistency, a dedicated consultant is the one who should be conducting all the interviews because this ensures continuity, consistency across interviews, and it also helps minimize bias.

You should also be looking for a consultant that can create custom interview guides or questions for your products, for your product lines, business units, and then has an effective methodology and tools for scheduling those interviews in order to achieve high participation rate because you want more of these interviews. You want your customers or prospects who have either selected you or even not selected you to participate in this win-loss interviews.

And then when I think of expertise and the consultant's methodology, they should be implementing a five why methodology. So when they design a questionnaire, are they're drilling down asking those five why questions to the root cause of what are some of the key reasons that why you're winning or losing that deal. The second area that we talked about earlier was methodology. I think the core emphasis here is can they really provide tailored recommendation for different business segments? And in order for them to provide this, they should have the ability to collect quantitative data, that means something coming from a survey, in addition to qualitative interviews.

They must also have an effective way of tagging interview teams that exposes and highlights, what are some of the key trends that you're seeing where you're winning or losing? What are some of the strengths that you have on your product side? What are the strengths from the sales side? And likewise, what are the weakness or what are the areas of gap that you should improve on? They should also have the ability to consolidate those teams into actionable insights for different business units or even for different sales teams.

So for example, the reason why you lose in AMER could be very different than why you lose in EMEA, even if it's through the same competitor. There might also be new answers in terms of why you win or lose against a particular competitor across different segments. For example, you might be winning against a competitor due to ease of use in downmarket. However, the same competitor might be winning against you, against your product, due to a perceived sophistication in upmarket.

Secondly, it is also important that they're able to get tailor the insights for different teams and business units. Example, in the past product teams that I've worked with are more interested in learning about what product capabilities are resonating well where should they invest more, and a sales leader is looking more insights around timely feedback on sales process, insights into buyer preferences that's leading into more or less wins. So I think that's critical to be able to tailor it for different product units.

The third aspect is to ensure that they can track changes over time. A classic example here is if you have identified one of the key areas or reasons for losing deals. If you invest and make improvement to this, for example, if it's a product feature and that has been enhanced, you will not track it over time and see if you see a reduction in that product feature being identified as an area of losing deals. So it's very important for them to have a methodology and tailoring recommendation for different business units.

And the third thing is we talked about was a technology platform. So the vendor must have modern software for housing interview transcripts, highlighting the teams, and findings from across the interview in order for an organization to scale the impact a win-loss process can have. Data is an essential part for a lot of practical analysis, but even for win-loss, that's not an exception. Data is critical, and data will provide and substantiate the claims that we are hearing. It will make the review more objective, and hence uniformity of data is important.

As we highlighted customization for different business unit and segment is critical and to ensure to make it relevant for that business unit. The other element of the platform is it should be flexible so that you can slice and dice the data, but at the same time, you should be able to consolidate some of these sentiment or qualitative analysis. And it's a bonus if the win-loss platform can have some AI capabilities to track information about competitors or can share some trending information, more real-time based on the data that we are getting.

So now that we have walked through the three types of selecting a win-loss vendor, let's look at how to get started. When I look back about every time I've implemented a win-loss process, actually it is not very hard to get started. But one of the most critical thing is getting an internal alignment across marketing, sales, and product. Getting an alignment in terms of what is the data that you're looking at and how are you going to take action once you get data for those questions. It is also critical to get alignment in terms of, what are some of the hypothesis are that you want to test?

So once you have the internal alignment, the next step is to look for vendor selection. You want to get a demo of the methodology and the platform, but at the same time, you must also ask for references and ask for customers who can speak to the caliber of the team, the soundness of the methodology. And talking about methodology, you want to ensure that it fits within the business outcome that you're looking for and ensure that they have the right industry experience.

Once you have a narrowed down and selected a vendor, it's very critical that you do a pilot. It is important that you take a sample or a subset of the data and be very intentional about it, because in this process, you might discover some blind spots. There might be some missteps, but it's a good time to make any adjustments, because once you have a process or a win-loss program in place, and if you make changes to the questionnaire or data after the program is in place, the insights won't be accurate because you won't be getting uniform data.

So I think, use the pilot to really look out for some of those blind spots. Look at some of the information that might be missteps, fine tune the data, fine tune the question, and leverage that to make it more standard once you implement the program. So I hope this was helpful, and this helps you in your journey to select a true win-loss vendor that can help you glean actionable information that you can synthesize quickly, accurately, and guide your future sales efforts. Thank you again for taking the time to join me today at the WinLossWeek. Thanks so much.