Having a successful approach to analyze why you won or lost a sale is one tool you definitely want in B2B sales today. But, you’ll need the cooperation of your prospect to do it effectively.
The reason you want to know why you lost a sale is to correct your approach to prevent future lost sales and capture new ones. The reason for wanting to know why you won a sale is to repeat what works and further increase success. The benefits of a solid win-loss review process are significant.
10 Benefits of An Effective Win-Loss Review
- Strengthen your sales process by identifying gaps.
- Gain insight on how your value proposition appeals to customers.
- Discover better ways to differentiate and quantify your product or solution advantages.
- Focus on the milestones that make the most difference in your process.
- Learn how your company’s brand is really perceived in the marketplace.
- Grow sales, as the closing rate, conversion rates and other measures should improve in the future.
- Gain important understanding regarding how your competition is perceived.
- Learn how your competition is attempting to differentiate from your value proposition.
- Develop better alignment between marketing and sales.
- Improve your competitive position. Knowledge from customers allows you to emphasize your strongest attributes and fine-tune any perceived weaknesses.
“Caution! The First 18 Seconds Can Kill Your Review Before It Ever Starts”
What you say before you ask a single question is vital to the success of your win-loss analysis. The approach you take impacts the customer’s willingness to either turn you down, be highly guarded in their answers, or to share openly with you.
Customers are often hesitant to go into the details of a decision with a losing-sales-rep for two reasons. First, they fear that you may get defensive. Secondly, they don’t want to deal with a sales person who’s going to abuse the opportunity by trying to get them to change their mind.
There are good ways and bad ways to approach your customer. Keep these two things in mind as you prepare your approach statement: It’s a good idea to keep it short (12-18 seconds), and know what you’re going to say in advance.
Below are two good approaches. Depending on your style, either one should work with some tailoring on your part to fit the customer’s situation.
- Miss Customer, I want to learn how we can improve our chances of getting your business in the future, and I’d like to get your perspective on a couple of quick questions. This is not an attempt to sell you, and I assure you I won’t get defensive or offended by anything you say. Your feedback will be really helpful to me; can I ask you two quick questions?
- Your future business is important to us and we would like to understand how we could possibly improve our chances next time. Mr. Customer, I’d like to ask you a few questions, it will take 4 to 5 minutes tops and it’ll be a great help to me if you can, is that all right?
If you set the right tone for the call and you are upfront about the purpose of the win-loss review, and you ask for their help sincerely, it will increase your odds of getting the customer’s full cooperation. Once you have it, focus on getting quality information.
5 Tips For Getting Better Information From Your Customers
- Give the customer genuine, thoughtful feedback such as, “Thank you, that’s very helpful to know,” or, “I appreciate your perspective,” and “That’s a very good point.” This helps to encourage the customer to tell you more.
- Be sure to ask good follow-up questions and don’t be reluctant to probe the reasons beneath an initial answer. For example, customers may say things like, “Oh, your price was a little too high is all;” or, “We really like you guys and your proposal was good, but we were a little more comfortable with Holmes Widgets this time.”
- Follow statements about price with, “Beyond our price being a little higher, what else stood out to you about Holmes Widgets?” Or, probe to find out how much higher your price was versus the competition.
- Follow answers regarding a feature they preferred over yours with, “You indicated that you liked Holmes Widgets quality better than ours, what was the main difference in their quality and ours?”
- Above all, don’t get defensive about what they divulge to you. Accept it, learn from it and thank them earnestly for being willing to help you get better.
Conducting win-loss reviews can pay off handsomely in generating fresh insights and improving your future odds of winning sales. Plus, they basically only cost your time and a little effort. If you do it right, you should also develop stronger ties with your customer.