Most B2B technology providers seek to learn from their lost deals. They analyze the closed reasons in their CRM, hold monthly or quarterly loss reviews, or both.

But when they need more accurate data and analysis, they consider hiring a win/loss analysis consultant.

(There’s a good definition of Win/Loss Analysis here.)

What Is A Win/Loss Analysis Consultant?

Win/Loss consultants provide design and delivery of win/loss programs, from buyer outreach to analysis and reporting.

During design, the consultant should address four key issues:

    • Opportunity selection: setting parameters for product or use case, firmographic attributes, consideration set, and recency to ensure the deals are comparable
    • Data collection method: varying the method used for data collection at each phase of the program’s lifecycle will optimize efficiency
    • Sample size: for an initial Win/Loss Analysis, we recommend at least twenty buyer interviews, but this increases when multiple deal types or buying decisions are included
    • Data sought: “no decisions” are caused by different issues than late-stage competitive losses, for example, so the interview discussion guide or survey questionnaire must be adapted to the situation

During delivery, the win/loss consulting service is responsible for:

    • Outreach: contacting buyers in the selected opportunities to request their participation
    • Data collection: gathering the required data
    • Analysis: identifying the most important causes of losses and wins is essential for making the analysis actionable
    • Reporting: communicating the analysis and recommendations with reports, readouts, and workshops

You can make a big impact with Win/Loss Analysis when it’s done well, so the selection of a win/loss consultant is an important decision.

5 Tips for Selecting a Win/Loss Analysis Consulting Service

Here are five tips that will help you make a good decision.

    1. Ask What Percentage Of Contacted Buyers Turn Into Interviews
    2. Choose The Best Data Collection Method For Your Scenario
    3. Make Sure The Win/Loss Insights Will Be Ready When You Need Them
    4. Ask The Consultant’s References About Interview Quality
    5. Think About Time And Bias When Deciding Whether You Will Do The Analysis, Reporting, And Readout

1. Ask What Percentage Of Contacted Buyers Turn Into Interviews

Screening, scheduling, and debriefing buyers requires a choreographed sequence of actions. Marketing management, sales management, sales operations, and AEs are all involved. But the linchpin is the buyer.

The longer it takes to reach the targeted number of win/loss interviews, the more likely your program is making a bad first impression. Sales ops will have to keep running new reports. Sales leadership will have to approve the opportunities. And then your people will have to email these buyers to request participation.

Win-Loss Buyer Interview Workflow

As you assess Win/Loss Analysis consulting services, dig into their project management capabilities. How confident are you that they’ll be able to keep things moving and avoid stepping on toes? Have they developed a repeatable process based on learnings from prior projects? How will they keep you up-to-speed after the program has begun?

Also helpful: software to automate the buyer outreach. This can be done with software you license from the Win/Loss Analysis consultant. Or you can use the sales cadence (eg, Outreach, SalesLoft, etc) software you already have.

But most important is how buyers respond to the outreach. A high response rate means less work for the cross-functional team that enables your outreach. You’ll be able to grow your program efficiently, and deliver insights faster.

Ask win/loss consultants (or their references) what percentage of contacted buyers turn into interviews. For an enterprise sale, think twice if it’s less than 70% of buyers in won deals. Eighty percent can be done. Conversion on lost deals should be at least 50% and can be over 60%.

2. Choose The Best Data Collection Method For Your Scenario

No decisions. Early stage losses. Lost market share. Low performing segments or verticals.

Buyer interviews are the best choice in these cases, where you have a tightly defined deal cohort. Interviews provide a deep understanding of the how and why behind the decision. You learn exactly what needs to change.

But what if you don’t really know what the issues or opportunities are? You’re not getting good answers from the data in your CRM. In this case, you need to start with the macro view. What are the real reasons you win? Why do you lose? And how does that vary by competitor, segment, and vertical?

You could interview buyers in each of these cohorts, but a win/loss survey will be more efficient. The marginal cost of each survey response (“complete”) is a small fraction of an interview’s cost. Sample size can be much larger with a survey. So you can run crosstabs on wins and losses by product, competitor, market segment, vertical, and even seller.

Ask each win/loss consulting service which data collection method they would recommend for your scenario. And compare costs and outputs.

3. Make Sure The Win/Loss Insights Will Be Ready When You Need Them

Services for Win/Loss Analysis typically complete the buyer interviews within 1-2 months in a clustered delivery model or spread them out over 1-2 years in a subscription model.

While both approaches produce accurate data about each deal that’s been interviewed, they have different use cases.

If you plan to use the buyer interviews in loss reviews or sales coaching, then each individual interview is valuable and a subscription model is suitable.

If instead you need to quickly find and fix the issues that are driving wins and losses overall — not just for individual AEs — choose a clustered model.

While a subscription delivery model can also be used to find overall win/loss patterns, that requires waiting several quarters, until a critical mass of interviews has been completed. Consider as well that that analysis will be a less accurate portrayal of today’s market, because it’s based on data about opportunities that are several quarters old.

4. Ask The Consultant’s References About Interview Quality

To assess interview quality, it’s important to understand how interviewing actually works. People sometimes think that interviewing is just asking a question, getting an answer. And then asking another question and getting an answer. That’s not how it works. It’s actually a lot of follow-up, probing, and improvising new questions in the moment. But not every question can be asked in an interview of 30 minutes or less. So the interviewer must prioritize questions and moderate the dialogue for the time remaining.

To assess interview quality, ask the consultant’s references for their assessment. You won’t be able to review actual interview transcripts because they are confidential. How did the consultant’s buyer interviews compare to ones the reference has done on their own? Did the interviewer adapt the questioning to the buyer’s responses? Or were the questions always the same? Did the interviews provide the understanding the reference needed?

A good interview also requires domain knowledge. If you target Enterprise Architects in Global 2000 businesses, how much experience does the consultant have with that buyer? And how much homework will they do on your category and offering before interviewing your buyers? Ask what materials the Win/Loss Analysis consultant requires from you to prepare. Beware if their pre-interview process doesn’t include getting notes on each opportunity from your CRM.

Consider a win/loss survey instead of interviews if you won’t need the interviewer to probe and go off script with follow-up questions. A survey will be much more efficient and yield a larger sample.

5. Think About Time And Bias When Deciding Whether You Will Do The Analysis, Reporting, And Readout

A buyer interview provides a deep understanding of each deal.

But that deep dive into each individual deal is insufficient. Someone must identify and explain the overall patterns. And then communicate the findings to a cross-functional group of stakeholders from marketing, sales, and product. Solution consulting, legal, and others may be pulled in depending on the findings.

Win/Loss consulting services take varying levels of ownership for this process. Some will do the analysis, reporting, and readout for you. Others provide a portal with a lightweight, fast analysis of patterns. Deeper or bespoke analysis and reporting are not included. Readouts are DIY.

Consider how much of this work you want to do yourself.

Identifying and explaining the important patterns in 20 or 30 buyer interviews takes significant time and effort.

And you may unintentionally introduce bias into the analysis. As an “insider” you’ll be viewed as less objective. So stakeholders may be defensive about your findings.

Choosing The Best Win/Loss Analysis Consultant For You

Netting it all out, look for a Win/Loss Analysis consulting service that will support you with a program that’s adaptive and scalable. Your program does need to be continuous, but it doesn’t need to be inefficient. The program should adapt — switching between qualitative and quantitative data collection — as your needs evolve. There will be periods when deep dive interviews are needed, and times when a quantitative tool is needed to gather a larger sample and benchmark the improvements you’ve made and monitor the market.

Ask references for their assessment of interview quality. You want interviews that are probing, not scripted.

And consider how much of the analysis, reporting, and readout you want to do yourself. Or whether you shouldn’t do it at all, to avoid perceived bias.

With these five tips, you should be well positioned to select a win/loss consulting service whose findings and recommendations you’ll want everyone to see.

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