Using Win-Loss Analysis to Feed Your Competitive Intel Program


Braydon Anderson:                                            

Welcome to this session of WinLossWeek. The world's largest online event dedicated to win-loss analysis. This event is hosted by Clozd, and we'd like to thank all of our partners for their contributions to making this event such a success. We're joined by Glen Remy for today's session. With over 10 years of working directly with win-loss on both sides of the fence, from the client point of view, as the senior manager of marketing competitive intelligence at NICE inContact, which is a cloud contact center software provider. As well as a senior consultant for win-loss provider, Glen has a unique point of view of what it takes to run a successful win-loss program.

Glen has personally conducted thousands of win-loss interviews and presented the key findings to large organizations across the world. Glen is currently responsible for managing the win-loss program for NICE inContact, including analyzing the results and sharing the key findings in quarterly review sessions, across the sales, marketing, product and executive leadership teams. And Glen today, will be talking about how to use win-loss to feed your competitive intelligence programs. So, Glenn, thanks so much for being here today.

Glen Remy:                                            

Hey, happy to be here. So good to be with everybody today. Not sure if I can add much to that intro there, but just to say that I do obviously currently manage the win-loss program here at NICE inContact, and do come from a background of working with a win-loss provider as a consultant, conducting interviews and different things like that. So what I'm sharing today really comes from our perspective of both working with various customers from being a win-loss provider. And then, of course, on this side of the fence where we've hired someone to Clozd to do our win-loss interviews and then analyzing it. Then, how we use it on our site, specifically about how we use it for competitive intelligence. Obviously, the win-loss portion goes without saying, that's the main reason for a win-loss program. But we find a lot of benefit in the competitive piece that we get from our win-loss information. So that, will be the focus of my session today.

And before we jump in, I just want to share just briefly what NICE inContact does. So we are a C-CAS or a cloud provider for contact center as a service. 100% built in the cloud. We are a leader in our space and you can see various stats and different things in the chart on the right. And on the left, there's various things that we do. It's call routing, it's digital first approach, outbound (no pause) dialer, workforce management, quality management, reporting, et cetera. Just really anything that you would need to successfully run your contact center. So, that's what we do. And then, as mentioned, my job is market and competitive intelligence here at NICE inContact. So I really consider my role, a sales support role, where I provide them with competitive information on how they can better compete against our main competitors.

So with that, where does competitive intelligence come from? And what is a good source for competitive intelligence? There are lots of ways I think, we can gather it. And so I'm just going to talk about a few here today. First of all, before I jump in to some of the ways that we gather competitive intelligence, I put this slide on here just because it's important that you have validation before escalation. And what I mean by that is, as a competitive intelligence person, we get a lot of things thrown at us from the field. Sales reps will come and say, "Hey, have you heard this?" Or, lost a deal to this competitor because of this and that. Or, product teams will come and say, "Hey, I hear this competitor has recently developed this." So lots of different things kind of thrown at us. And what I've found, it's best before escalating rumors and even press releases and different things, to try to validate as best as we can, some of that competitive information.

What does it really mean? Companies will throw out a lot of information via press release about product enhancements, but as a competitive intelligence person, it's always good to figure out what exactly is underneath the covers of a product release. So let's look at a couple of ways on again, where competitive intelligence comes from. First, there's really two sources. There's secondary and there's primary. Secondary, would just be your web searching. If, you're working in the competitive intelligence space, you're an expert Google searcher. You do a lot of Google searching. You're looking for demo videos, anything that you can find online. You're trying to cut through the press releases. You're listening to earnings reports from your competitors. And then of course, you're meeting with industry analysts and reading the various reports that are out there.

And there's other things, that's just some of the main ones I put under the secondary piece that we use. And of course, there's primary research. These are some of the main ones that we found a lot of success with. Former and current employees that have joined us from competitors. Sometimes, they can't obviously share everything because we don't want to get them in trouble with any non-compete clauses, or things that they've signed with a competitor. But there are some things that they can share, that can help with validation of what a competitor is actually doing. Again, cutting through the marketing fluff. And then, former and current customers. Also a good one.

Those who have left us and gone to a competitor, when they're willing to talk to us, it's a good source of competitive information. Not only does it tell you what your competitors doing, but it's a good opportunity to present yourself and understand your own weaknesses or strengths against what they're now experiencing with a competitor. Sales reps in the field, also a great source of competitive information. They will send a lot of information our way. Maybe, if they get their hands on any sort of pricing, mostly around an approach the competitor seems to be using in the sales cycle. These couple other ones are really where third parties come into play. Mystery shop projects. You can hire third parties oftentimes, to do a mystery shop project and go out and see what they can find.

Product tear-downs. I know there's lots of some research companies out there that will do competitive tear-downs for you. Of course, a lot of that... I put on there, if allowed because it just depends on the contract terms that our competitor puts in there. If, that's going to actually be allowed or not. And the risk that you're perhaps willing to take to do a product tear-down. Really just means a third party is going to buy the product and actually play with it and use it, and tear it down that way to see what it actually can and can't do.

And then of course, the purpose of this session today is that last bullet point, and that is win loss. What kind of competitive information can I get from my win-loss program? And of course, [inaudible] if you're not doing the win-loss program, I would highly encourage you to do that. Obviously, budgets and things, especially in a COVID time like now, can be an issue sometimes. But when you have the budget available, strongly encourage a win-loss program. It really just helps you understand where your weaknesses are and where you can do better. As well as your strengths, why you're winning as well, not just why you're losing.

So with that, how do I gather competitive information in my win-loss program? What are some of the questions that you can put in there? What are my expectations and what am I actually going to get in terms of the competitive information? Will they actually even share competitive information with me in my win-loss interview? And what about quantitative, versus qualitative? I know, there's lots out there. Some believe it's just all qualitative. Some do a mix of. Most, I think probably do a mix of quantitative versus qualitative. So where does that come into play and what kind of questions should I have in my qualitative, versus in my quantitative interview? And then, what about pricing? Can I get competitive pricing and what are some of the best approaches to get competitive pricing? So let's talk about some of those topics briefly. The first one is, what type of questions can I ask?

Now, I have found that the best approach is a good mix of qualitative with quantitative. You really do need to have both in my personal opinion. And a couple of questions. I've just put some examples here of things that we currently use, that have helped us gather some competitive information. That first one, who were the main vendors or solutions that you evaluated? That's oftentimes a common question you're going to get in your win-loss anyway. Also, the question about, who did you select? So it's a loss, who did you go with instead of us? That's a pretty common question that you're always going to have pretty much in a win-loss interview guide. But other questions that we really added and like to add that in the qualitative piece of it, towards the bottom here, and that is, what did you like most about a primary or secondary competitor's solution?

And I try to get this for as many competitors of our main competitors that they consider. So let's say they maybe looked at three or four and that relates to the second bullet point here, where it says, who were the primary or alternate competitors to us? And then, once that question is answered, maybe they give three or four of them. I do like to ask the, what did you like of a competitor? And what did you dislike? Because, that information really uncovers two things. It uncovers and provides validation for perhaps things you may have already know about a competitor, but may also provide additional insights that you really didn't know, because keep in mind that a lot of this in a win-loss is perception. So it's how the product was presented and then how they perceive a competitor strengths or a competitor weaknesses.

And the user comes through the demo, the sales process, et cetera. So it's good to know that how they perceived some of the weaknesses just from what they saw during the evaluation process. And again, you can use that in some of your competitive information. And we'll talk about that here in a moment. And then, the last one is also a good question. What really can, NICE inContact in this case, learn from a competitor's product offering or sales process? So while you get to the likes and dislikes, I like this question because it uncovers a little bit more granularity perhaps in some of the additional strengths and things that they might perceive are better and that we could potentially learn from our competitors. Because, not everybody does everything perfectly. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses.

So it's really good to understand where those strengths and weaknesses are, or the perceptions of where those are. But based on those that you've did an evaluation of you. Over here on the right are just a couple of screenshots of what it looks like in the quantitative portion. On the left, those are all qualitative questions, pretty much. On the right, we've got more of the quantitative view. And this shows up in that post-interview survey that's sent out by Clozd in our case. Where it's asked, who are the main competitors or the alternatives? And then, we get into some performance ratings versus the competitors. And that's this screenshot down here. So we're really just asking, how did we perform NICE inContact, in these areas? And then, you go to, how did a competitor perform in these areas.?

And the reason we do that... I'll show you on the next slide, is really so that you can come up with what I call a gap analysis. So I take that scale, that's the excellent, good average, fair, or terrible, and turned it into a five point scale. And with that, we can understand how we're scoring or how they perceive us in these areas in terms of our performance, versus all other competitors. And of course, if you have enough sample size, enough data, then you can get even more granular down to just one particular competitor. And that's even better, if you can compare yourself versus one competitor. Depending on what your budget is, I find that most typically have to look at it yourself versus all other competitors that were considered, just because of the sample universe that you're dealing with there.

Either way, the important part again, is that you're able to come up with some gaps. A, where you have positive gaps, where you're doing well and where you have negative gaps. In this case, you can see anything in red, is a negative gap. Now, if it's around the 0.5 or 0.69, that's a pretty significant gap with a one to five scale. So, that's where you would pay a little more attention to that versus a gap of just 0.04, it's not a huge gap, so not a big area of concern. But if you see a bigger gap like this 0.69, well, then that's a red flag and that's something that you need to look at to see why is there a perception in this case of speed and ease of implementation is perhaps better for a competitor, versus what we may offer. I will say that these scores of course, have been changed and modified to show the example for today's scenario. Just to kind of give you an idea of what I'm talking about in terms of understanding your differences between your competitors.

Okay. Now, let's move to pricing. Pricing is always a question that comes up from the field and from the pricing desk and others, how are we priced compared with our competitors? Now, if you can get your hands, of course, on actual competitive pricing, through an SOW or what have you then that's great, but those are few and far between and are a little difficult to get, get ahold of. So without that, there's other sources that we need to use, to get an idea of really how's our pricing versus the competition? And this is strictly a quantitative question that you're looking at here. I've found over the years that putting a pricing question in the qualitative interview, doesn't typically work as well. And when, you're talking about the competition. Now, that being said, what I will say is, the type of pricing questions that you can put in a qualitative interview are something like, how our pricing perceived versus the other competitors? It's just general in nature.

Well, it was higher and that sort of stuff. Now, obviously you can maybe do some probing and say, "Okay. Well, how much higher?" And try to get to a little more detail there, but I've found that most respondents are a little more reluctant to get into too much detail about pricing over the phone. However, when they fill out a survey, they sometimes will at least give you an idea of the ranges, on how close you are in terms of various areas within pricing. We have three buckets that we use, it's overall pricing, implementation pricing, and ongoing service and support. And we just basically ask, which of these ranges describes, insert your company name, relative to the winning vendor or the closest competitor, or the runner up?

And that's what you get here. You'll get various percentages to how many believe your... In terms of, fell into the at least 20%, more, or 10 to 20% more, et cetera. And you can understand at least, an idea of where you're falling in terms of pricing. Am I typically higher? Am I lower? Am I within 5%? If, you're typically within 5%, that's a good area to probably be in. Okay. So, that's how we handle pricing. I know there's lots of different ways that pricing could be handled. But again, just considering the sensitive nature of the pricing and how much a response will typically share, these are just some things that we found success with, in terms of gathering a little bit information about their perception of our pricing versus our competitors.

So will they share? Will they even give you any sort of insights as to what your competitors are doing? Surprisingly, they will. Here's a couple of things that we've learned about our competitors, just over the years as we've asked these questions about what they like or what they don't like about a competitive solution. It'd have given us additional insights that can maybe help us make some improvements in our own areas. This first response really just came from why another competitor was selected. And again, that's a typical win-loss question. So nothing super special there. What do you like and dislike? Again, a lot of win-loss providers will have these questions built into their interview guide. So again, just some examples of what we hear. What did they like about a competitor's solution? "Well, they did a good job listening to our requirements. And they never once made any comments, positive or derogatory towards a competitor."

And I will say, on that one, it is important that the field understands that most buyers don't like it when sellers come in and competitor bash, as you call it. So as you do get competitive information, I'll just put a little plug in here and say, be careful about how you weaponize and arm your sales guys with the competitive information. And it's typically better to just emphasize your strengths, that will put perhaps a magnifying glass on your competitors' weaknesses. Rather than, going in and just attacking directly. Other things that we've learned, they had some cool features, lots of add-ons, additional products, et cetera. And again, I'm not going to go through all these, but just a couple of examples as to the type of information that you can get when asked what they like or what they didn't like about a competitor.

Now, what do you do with it? So you've got some information, you've got a couple of competitive quotes. So what can I do with it to use it in my competitive intelligence information? Well, there's a couple of places where you could use it. The first one, of course, you can use it in your internal battle cards. Now, what I'll say here, and put it here at the top is, you do have to be very careful as to how you use quotes that you receive in your win-loss interviews. First of all, if you're going to use any quote externally, and you're going to actually cite a respondent or even a respondent's company, you must get their permission before doing so. You can't just openly use that quote in marketing materials, and externally. You do have to get their permission to use that information. Now, obviously you can reach back out to them and get their information that way.

But there are other things that you can do in terms of sharing that information internally, where you can still use it. One, here is an example. This is a, a newsletter that we do. And just wanted to share this example as a way of how we share some competitive quotes, even internally. And you can see just a quote about one of our competitors, but the way I cited it here, is it was from a CIO from a government transportation company, 140 seats to win. So what I've done there is, there's really no identifiable information in there. There's a title of course, but there's that government transportation that just outlines the industry that this particular company is in. That's what I want to emphasize here is, as you use quotes, I would strip out the company specific information or anything that's going to be identifiable, and just go with a title and perhaps a general industry segment in which that buyer may reside.

Going that route typically, can keep you out of trouble with referencing somebody who hasn't given you permission to use their exact quote. Again, other areas in terms of where you can use some of the competitive information that you've gathered from your win-loss. As I mentioned, in the competitive flashes, newsletters, messaging frameworks for your product marketing team, case studies, for wins. And again, that's going to require permission. And the reason I say this one, because sometimes you'll get a pretty glowing review back from a win. And when that happens, sometimes you can pass that information on to your customer marketing or your reference team and say, "Hey, this guy likes us a lot. So you might want to reach out to them or consider them to see if they would be willing to do a case study or some other customer testimonials."

So it does help you identify customers wins, who like what they've done so far with you. And then, perhaps you can turn them into a nice case study. I've done that a couple of times where I've sent a win-loss interview over to our customer reference team, and they've turned around and turned it into an in-depth case study that they've been able to publish publicly. Other things you can use the competitive information from your win-loss for, is supporting evidence for your product roadmap and development. Again, that goes back to what you like and what you dislike about a competitor. You say, "Hey. They're doing well consistently. The feedback we're receiving from win-loss and other areas is that, they're doing well in these particular areas. So we need to take a closer look at what we're doing there and make some enhancements." Leadership teams, obviously sales, marketing, support services, product, et cetera. Just sharing some of the information with them as it comes in, in real time, as they'll appreciate.

And then, of course, examples of what not to do with sales teams. You'll sometimes get some feedback about what a competitor's sales team did during a process that got them eliminated. And so, those are good quotes that you can share as to things that you shouldn't do, that would lead to your elimination from an evaluation process. So with that being said, now you know where good competitive intelligence comes from. So go and tell your friends. And again, I would recommend a win-loss program, but not only a win-loss program, but make sure you incorporate competitive intelligence questions within your win-loss programs. And with that, that's all I have to say today. Thank you for your time.

Braydon Anderson:                                            

Thanks so much, Glen. This session has been awesome. I've learned a ton. So thank you so much for sharing your insights here, giving us some great perspective on win-loss, but also just in general, on competitive intelligence and how to best run those programs. So thank you again. With that, we will end the session and thanks everyone for coming today's session. Have a great day. Bye.