Taking Your Win/Loss Program beyond Sales

There are many reasons why a company should engage in a Win/Loss program. For this series, I will focus on cover the basics of Win/Loss and setting up a program in the B2B space. I’ll also go in to some depth on how to leverage Win/Loss insights for strategy and steps to increase the success of a Win/Loss program.

Let’s start with why companies should have a Win/Loss program in the first place. In our surveys, we find that fewer than 35% of all companies have a Win/Loss program in place. The other 65% may from time to time ask about a specific deal, but these ad hoc efforts are not tied to any specific results. Without a formal program, the real reasons behind a deal outcome are missed and opportunities are lost.

Having a formal Win/Loss program does not by itself guarantee that it will capture the real reasons behind a deal’s outcome. Of the 35% of companies that do have a Win/Loss program, the majority have a program that is sales –focused, and primarily used to evaluate the sales team. These programs most often rely on the salesperson to report their perceptions on why the deal was a win or a loss. However, this approach has a major drawback.

Typically, if you ask a salesperson why they were able to close a deal, they will say that the salesperson is the source of the success. This does have an element of truth to it. Selling is hard and not everyone is good at it. Yet if you ask the same salesperson why they were not able to close the deal, rarely will they say it is their fault. Clearly, the salesperson can’t be the source of success and not the source of failure. A Win/Loss program that relies on the salesperson injects the bias of the salesperson.

Less frequently found are Win/Loss programs that extend beyond the sales force to include broader issues. In these programs, deal performance is evaluated based on key decision factors. These programs build in a structure that measures how the offer compares against the customer’s requirements and decision factors. These programs are more likely to identify a wider range of issues in the final decision and provide greater direction for what to change, and by so doing will lead to more success and a better market position.

In our next post of this series, we’ll talk about Win/Loss programs that go beyond sales and how to incorporate their results into strategy.

– Erik Glitman, CEO