In our last article on the subject, Can You Hear Me Now , we argued that what a salesperson says to a buyer and what the buyer actually hears are generally not the same thing, and this impacts the feedback that buyers give to their sales reps. We covered the art of listening and why it’s not enough to take buyer feedback only to recast it into as a new sales pitch. In this post, we’re expanding that content a little further. Namely, what we mean by a 360° view of win/loss analysis and why, without it, you are not getting the full picture.
What Do We Mean by 360° Win/Loss?
Most companies leave Win/Loss Analysis to sales. But sellers only know their own perspective, and what the buyer tell them. Unfortunately, buyers hide information in the heat of a seller/buyer discussion, and it’s hard to learn much from sales feedback alone. Conventional Competitive Intelligence (which underpins win/loss) tends to focus exclusively on conversations with either seller or market forces, and that narrow focus can be dangerous.
While sales’ view is critical, it is also incomplete. There are inherent biases in sales dialogue and unequal power dynamics that arise between buyers and sellers. That affects both what buyers tell sales, and how sales hears it. What’s more, too much attention on market forces blinds you to everything else, to the point where your ‘CI’ ends up standing for just Competitor Intelligence, not anything that’s truly Competitive.
Getting a full 360°view of CI means avoiding those mistakes: not obsessing about your competitors and not taking everything sales says at face-value. Keep your focus lean and agile. Extend your range beyond what is conventional: market and seller views give only two-thirds of the intelligence you need. For the full 360, you need the direct, objective, candid Voice of the Buyer.
The Voice of the Buyer is buyer intelligence uncluttered by sales bias.
The Voice of the Buyer is a view of a buyer’s true needs and desires despite what is available in the market. In getting the Voice of the Buyer, you are extracting a deep understanding of the change they sought: what they were really looking for when they evaluated your product or service. We call this the buyer’s fundamental change, or fundamental delta (FΔ). Through win/loss analysis (as well churn/retention analysis) the fundamental delta yields buyer insights that are inherently deeper than those gained through more conventional CI techniques.
How Do you Get the Voice of the Buyer?
Buyer intelligence is garnered through win/loss interviews, churn/retention evaluations, and quantitative surveys, which analytic studies subsequently distill into usable insights.
Buyer Intelligence starts with conversations with your buyers. When it comes to getting the voice of the buyer, here into some rules of thumb:
- 20 conversations are a strong metric for detailed analysis
- Choose buyers with care
- Focus on wins just as much as losses
Let’s break these rule into finer detail.
20 Conversations Are a Strong Metric For Detailed Analysis
You’re probably asking, “Why 20?” It comes down to the need to derive themes that represent your larger market, rather than anecdotes that are specific to the individuals you have spoken with. Some people have joked that “data is not the plural of anecdote”, and that is true: if you’ve spoken to five people, you can’t be confident that your five stories represent the larger market.
So how many is enough? The gold standard in qualitative research says that 30 conversations are needed to understand the themes of a larger population. But 30 conversations is a big investment. With thousands of buyer interviews behind us, we’ve found that a more practical sample is 20. Assuming that your conversations are skillfully conducted, you can identify themes such as “reasons for loss to competitor X,” or “what we could do differently to win more,” across just 20 conversations. In our experience, an additional 10 conversations tends to only solidify the themes already identified.
Mark Twain famously apologized for writing a long letter, arguing he didn’t have time to make it shorter. We make the analogy that, in Win/Loss and Churn Analysis, it’s much harder to summarize 10 interviews than it is to summarize 20. When you have 10 or fewer interviews, it’s unclear whether a specific story is a one-off, or a theme. If you pour your resources into 20 conversations, the results will be much easier to summarize, and more reliable and actionable to boot.
Sure, you’d get greater confidence and detail with 30 conversations. But 20 gives, for lack of a better term, the best bang-for-your-buck.
Choose Buyers with Care
It’s important to have a target question in mind when it comes to the insights you’re trying to gather. Ask yourself: what’s the biggest risk or the greatest opportunity for our company? Here’s a hypothetical: Sales has told you that your buyers told them that Product A was too expensive, so you cut prices, but the discounting has not improved sales. Why? Well, because your solution was the answer to the wrong question - you needed to be asking your lost customers what it was that really kept them away from your product. Remember: what buyers tell sales is never the full truth; you need proper buyer insight if you want the full story.
Focus Just as Much on Wins as Losses
When you focus only on analyzing lost deals, you are missing a huge opportunity to learn from wins.
When studying only losses, you’re missing is a rich vein of Competitive Intelligence. Your wins can reveal your competitors’ weaknesses in a way that losses rarely will, and these findings are invaluable for sales enablement.
Another benefit that we’ve regularly uncovered in win analysis is understanding when money’s been ‘left on the table.’ After a deal is done, there are ways you can discover whether prospects would have paid more than they did, or whether you really needed to discount as much as you did.
Best of all, wins show you the parts of your approach that are working. They help you build repeatable playbooks and deepen your understanding of the product use cases that matter to buyers. We’ve even uncovered market niches that are ripe for targeted marketing campaigns by noting win patterns in specific use cases that weren’t obvious in go-to-market planning.
240° of Insight Just Won’t Cut It
Feedback from sellers is important, but it’s not enough. Buyer Intelligence provides insights you just can’t get any other way – it gives the full 360 degrees. And that 360 degrees means analysis of both wins and losses; examining your wins will broaden your CI horizons in ways you likely never considered, and help you get the full picture. When you take a comprehensive approach to win/loss, you gain a whole new appreciation for your competitive market. With the deeper insights you gain, you’ll have a better sense of how you can thrive.