Win/Loss Analysis Definition

Win/Loss Analysis is defined as the process of analyzing won and lost B2B sales opportunities to learn how to win more deals and increase revenue.

For some B2B tech companies, Win/Loss Analysis involves nothing more than occasionally checking Closed Lost reasons in their CRM. They want to keep a finger on the market’s pulse.

For others, it’s a rigorous program that uses Win/Loss interviews to gain an in-depth understanding of buyer motivations, decision criteria, experience with front line teams, and other milestones in the buying journey.

Gartner’s Research On Win/Loss Analysis

If you’re just getting started with Win/Loss Analysis—or your current approach to Win/Loss Analysis just isn’t cutting it—consider this advice from Todd Berkowitz at Gartner:

“While ad-hoc reviews about key losses can help identify obvious problems, providers that only utilize that strategy are putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage. [..]

Win/loss analysis can be a powerful tool, but only when done right and only when there is a commitment (and follow through) to use the results to make strategic decisions and changes.”

Here’s some more perspective on what Win/Loss Analysis can mean for your business.

Most B2B Tech Companies Analyze Their Wins And Losses

Most B2B technology providers have a win/loss program of sorts. Lost deal reviews are common in Sales. And most Product Marketing teams interview new customers and may attempt to interview buyers in lost deals, too.

Other sources of data for Win/Loss Analysis can include:

  • CRM (Closed Lost reasons and notes, etc.)
  • Buyer surveys
  • Rep interviews/surveys
  • Phone calls to buyers (by a company exec or Product Marketing)

These are lightweight, continuous approaches to Win/Loss Analysis that any B2B technology vendor can execute.

They are sufficient for narrow, incremental improvement to targeting and messaging. And for sales to improve sales process and execution.

This informal analysis is low cost, because the volume of data analyzed is small, and the data is already available or readily acquired.

Making Strategic Decisions And Changes With Win/Loss Analysis

When real change is necessary, ad hoc approaches won’t provide the deep, reliable data about enough deals to generate actionable insight.

To make a measurable impact on revenue with Win/Loss Analysis, it’s essential to quantify the goal, scope the Win/Loss Analysis to meet that goal, and take action on the insights generated.

A rigorous program based on B2B buyer interviews should be implemented.

In these cases, Midmarket or Enterprise buyers are interviewed to learn about their perceptions and experiences during a months-long sales cycle that included multiple stakeholders and competing vendors.

Graphic showing milestones on the B2B buyer journey

Each interview generates insight about milestones in the buying journey, such as:

  1. Buying Context: The problem or opportunity to do better that made the buyer dissatisfied with the status quo.
  2. Advocating Change: How the buying team researched alternative approaches to solving the problem. What perceptions and preferences they developed. Which sources were most influential. Which solution categories and vendors they engaged with.
  3. Decision Criteria: The criteria the buying team used to screen vendors for the short list.
  4. Assessment of Offerings: How the buying team assessed each solution based on their decision criteria.
  5. Vendor Selection: Who won the deal and why.
  6. Sales Experience: The buying team’s assessment of the experience with each vendor’s sales team.

This more sophisticated effort is typically initiated by Sales or Marketing leadership. In early stage companies, it may be initiated by the CEO or requested by the Board.

Making The Business Case For Win/Loss Analysis

Making meaningful changes with a rigorous Win/Loss Analysis requires more up-front financial investment and cross-functional support. So it’s important to quantify the revenue impact of the win rate shortfall. In the graphic below, an opportunity win rate that’s 20% below target is causing a quarterly shortfall of $100,000 in ARR.

Graphic showing how to make the business case for Win-Loss AnalysisThe revenue impact of other common issues — losses at an early stage in the sales process, or a shortage of new opportunities in the pipeline — can be quantified in the same way.

The projected revenue improvement resulting from a Win/Loss Analysis should also be estimated (the Gartner report linked above reports a 15% to 30% increase in revenue), and a plan made for tracking the actual improvement with “before” and “after” readings.

Ad Hoc Or Intentional

The goals and sophistication of a Win/Loss Analysis are tightly linked. Clarity about the purpose of a Win/Loss Analysis makes its scope and implementation clear.

To make incremental improvements, or to simply keep a finger on the market’s pulse, an informal analysis of a smaller dataset is sufficient. To make a measurable impact on revenue, a rigorous program based on independent buyer interviews should be implemented.

We recommend using the Win/Loss Lifecycle as a framework for considering the options, and picking a Win/Loss program that will meet your goals.