Jun 12, 2023 • Podcast

How and why should I analyze wins and losses?

Paul stresses the value of learning from your wins and your losses.

Show Notes

The pain of failure motivates us to learn. The excitement of winning…addictive.

Establish a benchmark of small wins from your ten most recent successes.

Hone in on the phase of your process at which you win/lose the deal.

Win or lose, schedule a debrief with the customer/prospect for candid feedback.

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How and why should I analyze wins and losses?

(Transcribed from podcast)

Hello everyone. So just this morning I received a LinkedIn message and one of our listeners wants to address a win/loss analysis. How do we analyze our wins? How do we analyze our losses? So we’re going to jump right into that today.

We’re also going to talk about why win and loss analyses are important. You know, in sales, I know that we sometimes focus more on the losses, and we do learn a great deal from that, but we also learn from our wins. I’m guilty of this. When I was selling in the oil and gas industry, if I would lose a big deal, I would just pine over that loss: “Man. How did that happen? What did I do wrong?” But I rarely would go back and analyze my big wins. And so, we need to do that. We need to do both. That’s where the learning will take place. So we’re going to jump right into that in today’s session.

Before we get into the episode though, I wanted to share a thought. You know, it seems like there’s always plenty of negative news out there, so I try not to focus too much on mainstream media when assessing the economy. Instead, I look at other facts and figures. I rely on, you know, economists that I know, that I trust. And recently I was at a conference, and one of the economists who I follow was predicting a recession at some point this year—Q3 and Q4—we’re going to be in recession, and then, that’s going to extend into 2024. He also mentioned, though, that it would be a mild recession, which is a great thing, We don’t need a terrible recession like ‘08, ‘09.

But the reason I mentioned that is, now’s the time to prepare. Here we are—we’re in the middle of Q2—now is the time to prepare for what could be a tough year. Now, as you’ve heard me say this before, recessions are not a bad thing. In fact, tough times are good. That’s one of the main themes throughout Selling Through Tough Times. We’re given adversity. We’re given these tough times, and these tough times will catalyze positive change. Now is the time to take action. Pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. It’s available on Audible, it’s available on Amazon. There are so many resources available at Toughtimer.com. So I would encourage you to check out the website as well.

With that said, let’s get right into it. I’m going to share some ideas on how to. analyze your wins/losses, and also why we should. You know, first and foremost, we need to understand why we’re winning and why we’re losing. If we don’t understand why, we’re going to have trouble correcting our behavior. As we manage our pipeline of opportunities, we need to know how to change our behavior in a more positive way. We need to focus more on those activities that will lead to our success, and we need to know where we’re falling short. So analyzing your wins and losses, that is how we learn as salespeople. That is critical. That’s where we learn. The pain of failure motivates us to learn; the excitement of winning, it’s addictive to us as well. We want to continue to win, and so to be more effective, we need to analyze, we need to analyze what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong.

So, the first idea I’m going to share with you is to establish a benchmark of small wins. So here’s what I’d recommend. Take a look at your 10 most recent deals. Analyze these most recent 10 wins and figure out, okay, what do they all have in common from an activity standpoint? Okay, ask yourself, “What are the small wins that I achieved throughout this process that kept moving the sale forward?” And your goal here is to identify the overlap. You want to identify the most common small wins, and this can create a benchmark for you. Let’s say you identify four or five key wins that helped you win the sale.

Maybe the first one was, you were able to secure a meeting with an internal champion. Maybe the next small win is that you were able to have an in-depth discussion about their needs, wants, and concerns. Maybe the next small win is you were able to identify pressure points that they’re experiencing. And so you can go on and on. And the key is, we want to figure out, “Okay, these small wins are what led to the success. How can I focus on those small wins moving forward?” So first and foremost, create a benchmark.

And once you have your benchmark of your most recent wins, then you want to compare your losses to those wins. So, let’s say you got a deal that you lost the other day. You take a look at that deal and say, “Okay, I know that I need to achieve these seven small wins to make a deal happen. Did I do it? What was missing?” You’re figuring out where you went wrong. That’s one way to do it, is to identify, “Okay, what, what wins did I miss? Did I skip? What steps did I forget?” or whatever it may be. The key is it’s going to help you identify what you’re missing and where you need to focus on the next one. So the first idea: establish a benchmark of small wins. And then, you’re analyzing your successes and your failures using that benchmark.

Next thing, identify at what stage you lost or won the sale. Now, it’s important to note, when I say at what stage did you win the sale you’re probably thinking, “Well, Paul, when we got the order,” or “when we signed the contract. That’s the stage we won it at.” But I need you to be a little more objective and subjective here. And what that means is that okay, yeah, let’s look at the figures, but where did it feel like you won this sale, okay? Did it feel like you had the deal won on your second meeting when you were able to highlight what makes your solution different? So the key here is, we want to identify where did we win it, where did we lose it?

So if your sales process has some distinct phases, then we need to figure out, okay, where do deals get clogged up? Where do we lose them—at which stage? For example, let’s say, your simple process is, we select an opportunity, we qualify the opportunity, we pursue that opportunity, and then we persuade them to use our solution. If you’re continuously losing deals at the qualifying phase, which means you meet with an opportunity and you determine that it’s not a good fit at the qualifying phase, that means you probably have a marketing issue going on. It means you’re probably targeting the wrong type of customers.

Now let’s say that, many of your deals get killed at the pursue phase. This means you’re perhaps meeting with the wrong types of decision makers. Where you’re losing a sale throughout your process is an indicator of where you need to improve. Now again, analyzing your wins, as I mentioned, you can also look at this and just kind of say, “Okay, where did it feel like I won the opportunity?” And if it felt like you won the opportunity in the early phases, that’s great. Keep doing that. Keep improving in that key area and how can you enhance it even further. So that’s the second idea, is just identify at which stage where you’re losing that sale.

Idea number three: get the customer or prospect to commit to a “post” debrief—post-sale debrief or post-loss debrief, whatever it is. And what we’re doing here is, whether you win the sale or lose the sale, just get the commitment from the customer to revisit after the fact. And so, this is especially important with a loss. So let’s say you’re talking to the customer and they say, “Hey, we’re going in a different direction.” You lose the sale. Just say, “You know what? Could I have just a quick five-seven minutes? I just want to have an open and honest conversation about what we proposed, and why you chose to go with another alternative.” The key is how you position this to the opportunity, because sometimes your prospects or your customer may refuse to have this meeting because they believe you’re going to try and sell them, continue to sell them on why they should work with you. And you’re going to try to handle their objections. You’re going to put the pressure on. It’s not what you’re doing here. You’re doing this to learn. And that’s how you present it to the opportunity. You can say, “Look, this is just— I want to have a quick five-seven minute, open, honest conversation about what’s missing from our solution and why you chose to go with someone else.” That’s it. And then you have to commit to that, and you have to stay within those parameters.

During this meeting, it’s also important to give your opportunity or your customer, your prospect, permission to be candid. Explain that to the customer and say, “Look, I understand that sometimes it can be hard to deliver tough feedback, but the tough feedback is really the feedback we need to hear. If you would, please, just be honest with me. What is it about our solution? What is it about me? What is it about our company? And that way, we can improve and get better moving forward.” So give them permission to be open and honest. I think you’ll be surprised at what you hear.

Let’s look at the fourth idea. This one is really for the loss side of it. So when you’re analyzing your losses, it’s important to identify the objections. What objections did you hear throughout the sales process? For example, did they say, “Well, your solution is the same as everyone else’s, so we really see no reason to change.” That objection is an indication that you’re missing something. It means that you’re not able to differentiate your alternative. You’re not able to present a compelling reason why they should switch to you. That’s a messaging and presentation piece that we need to uncover. You need to be aware of that because the types of objections you hear will give you an indicator of the skills that are missing. They will tell you what is missing in your proposal, in your presentation.

For example, if you’re constantly hearing, “Well, your price is just too high.” Price is only an issue in the absence of value. So, one way to view this is to say, “Okay, if we’re constantly hearing that our price is too high, that means I’m not building enough value into the interaction early on. I’m not accurately explaining everything that is part of our solution and how that impacts the customer. We must be able to explain that.” So, start tracking your objections and if you’ve noticed some common objections, see where that points to in the sales process. That’s where you need to focus.

And the final idea is really more qualitative and subjective. And that means we need to just look at the overall interaction and say, “Okay, how would I describe the overall interaction? How would I describe the overall sale? Do we have a good information exchange? Did I build a solid relationship with the key decision makers? Was I able to build rapport and trust? Did I stay focused throughout the process? And was I listening to the customer when they were presenting their needs or their ideas?” We just want to get a sense of the look and the feel of the interaction with our customers. And we do this whether we win or lose. Because, although this part may not be as data driven, the look and the feel of the call is equally as important as the metrics we use to determine the success. And so, we’ve got to ask ourselves and really use our own opinion.

And this is also a great conversation you can have with your sales manager or a sales leader that joins you on these calls. So if you have the opportunity, ask them for their feedback: “Hey, what’d you think of the interaction? How did the process go?” Get them to share both the quantitative and the qualitative feedback.

Okay. So there’s a few ideas. Again, wins and losses are so important. That is how we learn, that’s how we can improve, that’s how we can get better. So, after any deal, whether we win it, whether we lose it, spend some time thinking about it. Use these ideas. So, there’s the answer to that question.

Make it a big day.

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