They say it’s all about efficiency. The one who can do it the fastest with the closest accuracy wins. Win loss analysis was born to feed this very function. What better way is there to gain accuracy than to actually ask the buyer what they want?
This is a great way to gain information quickly, but there is something to be said about taking the long way around: actually digging in to the core of what happened during each phase of the sales process, not only finding out what the buyer really needed, but also talking with the sales team and anyone else critically involved, with the ultimate goal of uncovering the root causes and a plan to correct them.
After all, if we’re only asking the buyer what occurred we’re only seeing one side of the story and hearing one set of opinions. Some would argue the very act of interviewing multiple individuals within the buyer’s organization is good enough to gather the data required to make an informed decision, but you still miss out on the advantage of taking the long way around to find out what your organization has to say on the matter.
If you consider a normal win loss analysis operation, the process is to reach out to the buyer’s decision makers and have them take a survey, perform an interview, or some other format to capture the voice of the buyer.
The value of such a process cannot be estimated as it can help a company shore up weaknesses pointed out, but, unfortunately for those of us imprisoned in the real world, the buyer is not always right. This is not to say the buyer is lying, manipulating the feedback, or even wrong about the feelings of anger or gratitude expressed. What the buyer may be incorrect about is the focus of that energy.
Why Take the Long Way Around?
Contract negotiations. That’s always fun, right? For a hypothetical situation, a company performs win loss analysis and what is consistently returned from those interviewed is negotiations are difficult and they are inflexible in its terms. To resolve this weakness the company is determined to do right by their buyers and enforces a policy of training and more flexibility in contract negotiations.
After enough time has passed for the new program to set in, this company once again performs win loss analysis, and to their surprise the overall view is their negotiations were challenging and inflexible. How can the market opinion remain when work was performed to improve this weakness? Obviously, the data is incorrect. There were memos written about being more flexible.
When the Right Questions are Directed to the Right People
There are any number of reasons contract negotiations could be viewed poorly, but it takes more than just asking the right questions, you have to point those questions at the right people. Receiving the buyer’s view is fundamental to running a proper sales and account retention campaign, but there are times when getting only this single view will have a company chopping at the branches of a problem rather than digging out the root.
Had the hypothetical situation above continued just one step further to include those involved in the sale or delivering to the account in a post sales discussion, perhaps it would have been discovered it is not a matter of being inflexible, but company policy dictating the need for approval of any requested changes during negotiations.
If this was the case, the situation would be less about the company’s inflexibility, and more about the appearance of this as the negotiations team worked on receiving approval for the requests. In this scenario the voice of the buyer has been received, but the voices of sales, delivery, and account management remain unheard. Does it really make sense to exclude the very people dealing with the situation daily when a single discussion could discover the root causes of the buyer’s statements?
There’s More to the Sales Story Than Meets the Eye
In one recent conversation, the buyer spent a great deal of time complaining about how inflexible the sales and solutioning team was towards meeting their needs. To make matters worse, it was also claimed the team had initially offered the desired solution and then later stated it was outside what could be delivered.
With buyer opinion alone this appears a dire situation in which the pursuit team is flinging options at the wall hoping the one selected can be delivered and the others ignored. When the pursuit team became involved in the discussion, it was discovered in no way had they offered a solution which could not be fulfilled.
What had occurred is in the initial marketing slide deck discussing the technology, there was a single slide which showed all the possibilities available in the marketplace before moving into what solutions could be offered.
This single slide dragged the entire pursuit down an avenue never intended, and unsurprisingly, an immediate action item was set forward to correct this slide. Through the view of the buyer the pursuit team itself was entirely to blame, and had the team’s opinions been ignored, this single slide may have caused future prospects to become equally confused about what exactly is being offered.
Capturing efficiency drives the business world towards innovation and better processes. This is the very reason Win Loss and Customer Experience analysis were invented. Those may be the driving forces to gathering customer opinion, but in the end there is something to be said about taking the long way around.