It’s the start of another sales meeting and you can already tell the news won’t be positive. With revenue for the quarter still shy of targets, you ask the group for an update on their pipeline. The first sales rep begins by sharing how their best opportunity to close this month has fallen through. Another rep repeats a similar story. When you ask for an explanation the reasons are chalked up to price or that the decision-maker had an existing relationship with a competitor. Neither will help much for winning future deals.
Learning the reasons behind winning or losing sales opportunities is critical. So is knowing how your competitors position themselves and sell against your company. While price can be a factor, it’s rarely the only driver, and without an objective assessment of the decision-making process, how can you be sure there weren’t other factors that contributed to the loss (as often is the case)?
For many B2B companies, a Sales Win Loss program is a core component of their competitive intelligence efforts. Well run programs are designed to uncover the real reasons you win or lose a sale and, in the process, expose the advantages and disadvantages of the companies you compete against. These actionable insights are powerful, and are often used for sales training, messaging, positioning, combating “FUD”, and even product development and roadmap priorities.
How Decision-Makers Compare Competitors
The final determinants for winning a sale can vary from one decision-maker to the next. Did they perceive your solution to be most suitable for larger or smaller organizations? Was your sales rep able to establish appropriate rapport with the stakeholders? What role did references play in the final decision?
For example, win-loss insights we delivered to one client helped clarify how one of their main competitors was using recent sales team turnover against them. Upon learning this was a commonly used attack, they were able to get in front of the messaging and speak to prospects about the stability of the organization and their commitment to employee engagement and promoting from within.
For another client, we learned that a competitor was emphasizing their platform’s flexibility and ability to configure as a competitive advantage. And yet another we uncovered through our ongoing interviews that the competitor was positioning their library of direct integrations, “REST API’s”, and data ingestion as “industry leading.”
In each case, the messaging used by competitors resulted in losing a few deals, but our clients were able to socialize the feedback among the sales and marketing teams quickly and agree on actions to mitigate the impact. The result has been higher sales win rates and more satisfied customers after the onboarding phase is completed.
We previously wrote in-depth about how a Sales Win Loss program can benefit your organization and how to put this competitive intelligence to work: How B2BCompanies Can Gather Competitive Intelligence.
Advantages of Gathering Competitive Intelligence
More than ever, companies need to understand how their company and offering is perceived versus their primary competitors. Doing so will not only improve sales performance but lead to a wealth of insights that can help propel your business forward. Our client Cority provides another great example of how a Sales Win Loss program can benefit your organization:
- By understanding the key drivers for winning or losing sales, Cority has optimized the sales process which has led to an increase in sales win rates.
- Cority now has a deeper understanding of the competitive landscape, including how they stack up against them on price, features/functionality, and customer experience.
- The sales win loss data is reaching all areas of the business, including providing ideas for future product development.
You can read the full success story here.
As a final point, when relying on Sales Win Loss insights to gather competitive intelligence, it’s important to consider who is conducting your interviews. Rarely will decision-makers feel comfortable sharing candid and direct feedback with anyone close to the sales process. It’s worth the investment in hiring an objective partner such as Satrix Solutions who can get beyond superficial or misleading insights.
For even more valuable takeaways, we suggest downloading our EBook: Tips for Executing a Successful Sales Win Loss Program.
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