At Eigenworks, one of our precepts is that ‘data isn’t everything.’ It’s the founding principle behind our Buyer-As-Hero™ ethos, and has sometimes brought us into conflict with companies for whom ‘data-driven’ is the be-all and end-all of existence. When it comes to win/loss and churn analysis, though, data only shows you what happened, it has nothing to say about ‘why.’ There’s a common misconception that data and logic are always linked - that if the right data is in front of you then the right answer can be found so long as you are logical in your analysis. Here’s the problem: people don’t act logically - or, rather, there is more than one logical reason to do anything, and they’re not necessarily congruent.
Take a thrilling tale of adventure like one you might find in an action movie. The hero swings in on a rope to save their friend who is in a dangerous situation – even though (as the friend protests) the hero ‘could have died.’ To the friend, the right thing to do is the thing with the least risk, while to the hero, the right thing to do may be the one with the most risk. Both positions - ‘leave and save yourself’ and ‘risk danger to save a friend’ - are perfectly logical from the viewpoint of their respective holders, even though one – or both – may be rooted in emotion.
Despite what Star Trek sometimes tries to argue, logic and emotion are not opposites. They require one another; even attempting to think logically without emotion is in and of itself an emotional action. Let’s move from action heroes to buying heroes - as we’ve noted before, what motivates a buyer is their FΔ, the fundamental change they’re trying to bring about, the impetus for a purchase in the first place. In their day-to-day lives, buyers commit to actions that others would deem emotional and thus ‘illogical.’ They give money to charity - even though doing so diminishes their own wealth with no tangible benefit to themselves. They let their kids stay up an hour late to finish a movie, even though doing so makes getting the kids up in the morning that much harder. They pay more for organic groceries at the distant store, even though it’s more efficient and cheaper to go to the discount grocery nearby.
These decisions are illogical, from a certain point a view. If you believe that efficiency is always the most logical thing for a buyer to look for, then anything they do that doesn’t aid efficiency makes no sense. The same holds true if you revere price or a particularly shiny feature: your product is the most logical choice if it is the cheapest or the shiniest.
This is where a limited understanding of logic fails us. What your buyer does in their ordinary life always makes sense to them: it fits their priorities and their worldview. So why should it be any different when it comes to them making a significant purchase for their company? Why do we so often assume that a normal human being suddenly transforms into a creature of pure calculating ‘logic’ when they make a B2B buying decision?
Think of it this way: how many times have you looked at a loss and said, ‘How did we fail? We were obviously the logical choice for the buyer.’ How many times have you won a deal but had a nagging voice in the back of your head whispering ‘This is great, but I was certain they’d go with the other guy.’ How often have you huddled with other salespeople and had the gossip turn to the inexplicably things a potential buyer did?
Do you still think your buyer’s choices were inexplicable - or were they doing right by their own standards? ‘Listen To Your Buyer’ we say at Eigenworks, which is just as much a motto as a manifesto. We know that when your buyer is swinging on the rope, risking life and limb to save or escape a sale in seeming contradiction of all logic - it does, it fact, make perfect sense to them. It’s ‘the right thing to do.’ Maybe price matters less than good customer support. Maybe efficiency matters less than respectable corporate practices. Maybe it is not any one easily understood issue: buyers’ stories may be far more complex than a simple action movie. Good win/loss analysis gets to the heart of buyers’ actions: it charts their journeys, their goals, their enemies and allies. It locates the foes they needed to defeated and discovers if they were triumphant.
In short, good win/loss analysis is about your buyer’s story, their fundamental change - what it was, if they achieved it, and the fallout afterwards. You cannot begin to understand something nuanced with just data, charts, and cold, ‘pure’ logic. The buyer-as-human is as ‘irrational’ a person in their professional life as their regular life.
Our advice: Start listening to what your buyer really wants, and not just what you think they ‘logically’ need.