Effective Win/Loss programs are about so much more than sales team’s performance. An effective Win/Loss program gathers information about issues that affect every part of the company. For this reason, it is important to engage a broad cross section of company functions. Yet, getting that engagement, and maintaining it, is a frequent challenge for most companies.
There are many reasons why company-wide engagement is challenging. Most of the reasons boil down to a simple “What’s in it for me?” question. This is because in many cases, Win/Loss programs are seen as sales focused and fail to demonstrate how the results go beyond the sales department’s interests to help other functions. This, however, can change and there are seven keys to building engagement in your Win/Loss program
- Key One: Find out what other stakeholder departments want to know about the customer’s decision. Some factors cut across all company departments while others apply more to one department and not another. The result is that each department will have different insights from Win/Loss results. For example, the marketing department may want to know if the messaging resonates with the prospect and how it compares to competitor’s messaging. In the product development group, there may be a question about what features should be added to improve the product.
Conversations with other department leaders will help shape the Win/Loss data collection effort. Incorporating the concerns of all department heads is a key step to developing and maintaining their engagement and support for the Win/Loss program.
- Key Two: Share results that are related to each department’s interest. Knowing what insights each department wants carries with it the requirement to share results when they are available.
Results sharing can be incorporated into regular meetings with department leaders. These same meetings create further incentive to engage in the process while sharing sensitive findings with relevant department leaders in a neutral environment.
- Key Three: Include department leadership in broader read-outs. The holistic benefit of Win/Loss is enhanced when the audience includes leaders from multiple departments.
Sharing the findings to a wide audience encourages discussion about what changes will improve overall performance and at the same time increases communications between department leaders. Caution: Do not include sensitive single department findings out of these read-outs.
- Key Four: Public praise, private critique. Seek out good examples of where cooperation moved the sale to success and highlight how the sales team used the full resources of the company. Praise the team rather than a single member, which helps increase willingness to participate in the Win/Loss process. When a single person was outstanding, use the Win/Loss review to highlight their role.
Where there was a critical failure, share that privately with the relevant department leadership. This avoids spotlighting blame on a single person.
- Key Five: Offer multiple cuts of the results. Interest in broad Win/Loss results is higher when focused on areas where the stakeholders operate. Single stakeholder audiences tend to be more focused on how the Win/Loss findings affect their role. Encourage each stakeholder group to identify changes they can make to increase sales success, and to get feedback on the impact of changes made.
Increase engagement and offer separate data cuts for each group such as the regional sales, the segment marketing managers, product line managers, and so on.
- Key Six: Focus on what can change and advocate for change. The ultimate purpose of Win/Loss is to drive changes that will make the company more successful. Win/Loss reports should identify what factors have the greatest impact on sales outcome and the largest performance gaps against both the competitor and customer’s expectations. Once identified, reporting can specify what changes will improve the performance.
Use summary reports to highlight specific areas where change can improve sales outcome and provide specific examples to illustrate what changes contributed to higher win rates.
- Key Seven: Use Metrics. In each individual and roll-up report, demonstrate with performance metrics what factors produced the outcome. Start by establishing a baseline on performance using quantitative analysis of performance against decision factors. Note when changes were made in the overall proposition (these can be at any point in the value proposition such as new features, improved service hours, different reference sites, new packaging, etc.) and track how performance on the affected metrics changes over time.
Showing clear performance improvements based on accepted metrics is the most powerful way to demonstrate the impact Win/Loss has on overall sale performance.
Keeping a Win/Loss program viable and effective requires broad support from across the company. When all parts of the company have a stake in the success of the Win/Loss program, they are more willing to support the program and to follow-up on recommendations for change. Consistent stakeholder engagement ensures that the Win/Loss program adjusts to changing market environments and provides leadership with critical decision support to drive success.
Author: Erik Glitman, CEO Fletcher/CSI