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In a Nut Shell
There was not enough information to make smart decisions, according to the CEO of a financial software company. The reasons for winning and losing were anecdotal, at best, and neither the sales team nor the product marketing team had the time or expertise to uncover more.
The company implemented Win Loss Analysis with Primary Intelligence and uncovered two key findings. First, some losses were caused by buyers that were just not ready to buy, but the company was not staying in contact for a future opportunity. Second, the competition was spreading fear about their product. After taking action on those insights and more, the financial software company saw an increase of 18 points in their win rate, 6 points over the top competitors, and near 100% year over year growth.
“We’ve got a real attention here to understanding what prospects and our customers are saying about us and how we improve,” said the company’s CEO. “By staying on top of understanding this real time feedback, it has really helped us to continue to grow our organization so rapidly.”
Increase in Win Rate Against Top Competitors
No Insight into Wins and Losses
As Rob, the CEO of the financial software company, described it, the problem was a low win rate, but the real problem was a lack of intelligence. “We didn’t have good intelligence on why people didn’t select us and why they were going with a direct competitor,” Rob said. “We’d always get back extremely high level information about the reasons why.”
Rob was trying to improve marketing and sales execution to offset the losses, but knew he couldn’t solve the problem without root causes. “Internally, we had this sense that our system was so much better than the competition. It didn’t make sense,” he said.
“We didn’t have good intelligence on why people didn’t select us and why they were going with a direct competitor.”
Implement Win Loss Analysis
As a first attempt to solve the issue, the company had an informal initiative to gain insights from the sales team, which included the sales rep conducting a brief discussion with the buyer. The product marketing team was also asked to audit the losses to find broader insight.
“We felt like the information we were getting from the sales team was biased,” Rob explained. “And product marketing couldn’t do it because they had a lot of other responsibilities.”
“The sales team would usually say it was price or we were missing a feature,” added Clark, the Vice President of Marketing. “It was rare that we could get them to say anything about their performance, other than it was stellar.”
The company partnered with Primary Intelligence to implement a Win Loss program which could systematically deliver insights from buyers, served up as the strategic intelligence Rob and his team needed. “We thought if we had an outside expert in this area, we could get better results,” Rob said.
Primary Intelligence started interviewing buyers from recently closed won and lost deals. The interview details and analysis of the reasons for the outcome were delivered as a report and distributed throughout the company.
From the start, Rob and the executive team led the charge with making the buyer feedback a priority. “We give access to every report through the organization. I, as CEO, personally open up every one of the Win Loss reports within a four hour period after receiving it,” Rob said.
Clark found a distinct difference in the depth of information customers were willing to share with Primary Intelligence compared to the sales team. “We found when Primary Intelligence went in and talked to buyers, that there were 16 other things that they didn’t tell us about because they didn’t want to offend the sales person that had been working with them for a couple of months,” Clark said.
The company also implemented Primary Intelligence’s diagnosis services, which aggregated the findings to find larger trends. This has led to the most valuable insights, according to Rob.
“Like most human beings you remember the last bit of news or information that was in front of you,” he said. “By seeing the aggregation, it grounds us to make the right decisions. Almost anytime you get a loss report you go, ‘We got to go fix this.’ But when you step back and then look at everything across the total, it is like, ‘That was an issue with that particular sales person and that particular company,’ as opposed to, ‘What are the major trends that we really need to be going off and attacking’.”
“We found when Primary Intelligence went in and talked to buyers, that there were 16 other things that they didn’t tell us about because they didn’t want to offend the sales person that had been working with them for a couple of months.”
—Clark, Vice President of Marketing
No Decisions, Competitor Chaos
The Win Loss program led to numerous insights that the company immediately started solving.
It was the mix of both tactical and strategic findings that allowed the company to understand their buyers. “On the individual profiles a lot of times it ends up helping a sales person improve,” Rob explained. “And then in the aggregate it helps the company improve.”
Some buyers were not ready to buy
One specific insight the company began to act on was No Decision deals — opportunities where no product was purchased. This was a surprise to Rob because previously prospects had only shared that they didn’t want to move forward.
“It seems folks are fearful of switching suppliers, so many times they delay making any decision. We get off the phone and we’re just sitting there thinking we lost and don’t even know why,” Rob said. “Then Primary Intelligence calls and we find out it wasn’t a loss. They didn’t go to the competition, they just decided they have to improve their processes and understand internally how they can gain the most from automating and utilizing our technology and all they did was delay.”
In fact, Primary Intelligence findings suggested the sales and product efforts were strong, but the buyers were just not ready to make a purchase decision. “We learned they liked the experience so much that when they are prepared, they are going to come back to us. We thought it was a loss, only to find out they have got to get their act together and they’re probably going to be coming back.”
The competition was slinging mud
Prior to win loss feedback, the company was unaware how much “mud” the competition was spreading about their product. Product marketer Laurie and the Primary Intelligence consultant started to see a trend in what buyers identified as weaknesses when going against certain competitors. It was clear the company needed to take quick action to counteract the negative messaging.
Clark said this was one instance of how the marketing messaging was refined thanks to buyer insights. “Win Loss has allowed us to understand what we need to continue to highlight in our marketing messages and our overall sales messages,” Clark said. “It has also allowed us to see where we are weaker than we thought we were.”
“Win Loss has allowed us to understand what we need to continue to highlight in our marketing messages and our overall sales messages.”
—Clark, Vice President of Marketing
Stay Close, Fight the Fear
Marketing to No Decision deals
For the No Decision deals, the company started more specific marketing campaigns to opportunities they felt would likely be ready to buy in the future. “We continued to market to them and following their actions,” explained Rob. “In the past, we would have just marked it as a loss and moved on and never probably contacted them again because we thought it was a loss.”
Addressing the competition
The marketing group started to refocus messaging “specifically around how we convey ourselves versus the competition,” explained Clark.
“We specifically changed and modified some of our corporate messaging and put some tools in the hands of our sales reps to address that,” Laurie said. “We virtually in the past six to nine months have seen those concerns just drop from the marketplace. We implemented sales training and tactics to ensure that the reps knew how to handle those objections really well, and it’s worked because it’s not an issue any longer.”
“We virtually in the past six to nine months have seen those concerns just drop from the marketplace.”
—Laurie, Product Marketer
Increased Win Rate, Continued Growth
Rob and his team have realized several direct and indirect benefits from the program. “Our sales have gone up 18 points, which the program definitely influenced,” Rob said “I can say because of the input that we’ve received from Primary Intelligence, it has allowed us to sustain our ongoing, close to 100 percent growth year after year.”
Laurie also credited the win loss program with increasing the win rate against target competitors by 6 points. Clark added: “What I’ve been surprised at is how well Primary Intelligence has gone in and understood our business and what it takes to win. It really does feel like you are an extension of our company.”
The most important outcome, according to Rob, has been the focus on customers which the program drove. “We’ve got a real attention here to understanding what prospects and our customers are saying about us and how do we improve. By staying on top of understanding this real time feedback, it has really helped us to continue to grow our organization so rapidly,” Rob said.
“I think that gaining a customer perspective is a value that executives in all organizations need to have,” he continued. “Getting it directly from the customer about their experience is something that you constantly have to evaluate and not rest on your laurels. If you don’t get this kind of information, everything is subjective at the executive level as to what’s working, what isn’t working. This is really giving us the specifics from a customer’s perspective so it is much easier to drive to conclusions than where you could end up with a sales leader’s perspective against my perspective versus a marketing perspective. We know we have to have this information to compete in the marketplace.”
“We know we have to have this information to compete in the marketplace.”
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