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Win-Loss Analysis: Effort vs. Results

win-loss analysis

Here are some general rules of thumb in the enterprise B2B space when it comes to win-loss analysis. No scientific data here, just many years of sales experience.

When You Win

The majority of your wins happen because:

  • You outsold the competition. There’s a lot that goes into this one!
  • You told a better value story.
  • You spoke the language of the customer more so than the competition.
  • The customer just liked you and/or your company better.
  • There was a favorable sentiment toward your company or products before the evaluation even started.

When You Lose

Most deals are lost for the exact opposite reasons listed above.

  • The competition outsold you.
  • They told a better value story.
  • They formed a stronger bond with the customer.
  • They just liked your competition’s mojo better than yours.
  • Something turned the buyer off on your company or products.

When the Product Matters

There are a few situations when the product is the difference-maker.

  • The Incumbent: When you or your competition are the incumbent. Let’s say the competitor’s product is newer, cooler, easier to use and the buyer openly admits it. You still win the deal because the value of integration outweighs the additional benefits of a best-of-breed product that’s not integrated.

  • The Gaping Hole: Your product or the competitor’s product has a gaping hole that’s a dealbreaker. In most cases you’re readily aware of major product deficiencies, but every now and then you’re creative enough with workarounds to get past them. If your product and/or your company are relatively new, this can happen a lot when competing with more mature products and companies.

  • Differentiating Features: In this day and age, usability and simplicity are the most valuable currencies for differentiation if all other things are equal. However, you or your competition may have a handful of features that don’t necessarily fall into the “gaping hole” category but give customers high-value outcomes that make a significant difference in areas that are critical.

For those who think the product makes a bigger difference, think of the deals you lost when you had the superior product, or the deals you won when you didn’t have the best product. Winning always feels good. Losing is a hard pill to swallow when it’s really not the product.

Here’s the thing many of you have already discovered about win-loss analysis in the enterprise B2B space. It’s really, really hard to get buyers to tell you the real reasons WHY you win or lose.

The product is the easiest excuse on both ends of the spectrum. Then comes price or a host of other cheap excuses. Very few buyers are going to tell you that they just liked you or the competition better.

They’ll never tell you that you or your competitor had the deal wired from the start because of connections with decision-makers or strategic partners.

Pick any other reason you can think of. In most cases, you’ll have to go through some third party to get anything that even resembles the truth as to why you win or lose. Those efforts can be expensive but sometimes they’re worth it if your deal size is big enough to justify the expense.

All of this brings us to the question, how much time, people, money and effort should you invest on traditional win-loss analysis when it’s so incredibly difficult to get the real truth?

Is the ROI there?

A More Practical Approach to Win-Loss Analysis

If you feel like you’re just going through the motions because win-loss analysis is something that’s on every checklist of good business practices, take a step back for a minute and consider the following.

80% of your losses are probably deals you should have never been pursuing in the first place.

80% of your wins likely share a lot of common denominators. Find those common characteristics and try to get your sales team into more of those situations through targeted lead generation activities.

Your win rates will soar!

Click here if you want to experience the easiest way to learn product management, product marketing, pre-sales demos and customer success with our unique hands-on learning format. Be sure to check out our Product Management Framework that simplifies everything by making customer outcomes the starting point for building, marketing, selling and delivering strategic value.

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by John Mansour on July 18, 2022.