What are the main factors driving wins and losses in B2B?

To win over B2B sales prospects, it’s not enough for your company just to have a good product and/or service. With fierce competition in many industries, you also need a compelling message that resonates with the decision-maker and helps you stand apart in the marketplace – or you risk having prospective customers go elsewhere.

How do you achieve this? One recommendation is to rely on In-Depth Phone Interviews (IDIs) to analyze the factors behind a purchase decision, look at the buying process from the perspective of key decision-makers, and evaluate how your brand is perceived by potential customers.

For over a decade, we’ve been collecting Sales Win Loss feedback on behalf of our clients to provide them with data-driven insights into why their company wins or loses a sales pitch. The insights we deliver have been essential for keeping them competitive in the marketplace and guiding strategic priorities and product roadmaps. This success story with one of our clients, Cority, is a great example of what can be achieved with a Sales Win Loss program.

What we’ve learned over the years is that there are many different reasons a company can lose or win a sales pitch, which oftentimes is only uncovered during IDI research. However, there are several insightful themes often revealed within a win-loss interview that are important for any B2B company to consider:

Understanding the needs of the prospect

During the Sales Win Loss interview, we sometimes hear from decision-makers that they felt their needs weren’t fully addressed or understood. When this feedback is shared, we like to probe further into the buying criteria and discover which elements of the sales pitch resonated most. Then, we encourage our clients to use these insights as a coaching opportunity for the sales team to improve sales effectiveness.

Responsiveness throughout the sales process

A streamlined process with a highly responsive sales team is often viewed as a competitive advantage. When evaluating vendors, decision-makers tell us they place a lot of value on responsiveness, especially following initial outreach or during handoffs, and how it impacts their perception of a company trying to earn their business. With “responsiveness” becoming increasingly important, make sure your team is making it a priority.

Relationship with the sales and technical teams

The importance of relationship-building should never be underestimated. This topic often comes up in the Sales Win Loss interviews we conduct. Decision-makers tell us they are more likely to purchase from people with which they feel at ease and have a sense of trust with. Consequently, B2B sales teams need to spend as much effort selling prospects on the relationship with their company as much as their product/service.

Price or perceived value

The competitive marketplace in many industries can lead prospects to ask for price concessions. How a company addresses these discussions can play a significant role in the final outcome of the buying process. If one of our Sales Win Loss clients loses a deal due to price, we engage in discussions with decision-makers about their initial budget. We ask questions related to flexibility. We inquire about the pricing structure for any other companies they evaluated. We explore the perceived value and what our client could have done differently to overcome pricing objectives. We also discuss the features and functionality of the competitors to understand if the decision-maker was comparing “apples to apples.” These are just a few topics to consider when analyzing a lost sale due to price.

UX/UI and product features

For many SaaS clients, the user experience of a product can make or break the sale and often impacts the perception of quality. For many decision-makers, workflows need to be intuitive and discoverable with minimal to no training required, and the interface aesthetics should be perceived as modern rather than outdated. This is even more important if components of the platform are not used on a daily basis or if some users are infrequently in the system. Some prospects gravitate to organizations that clearly speak to their future roadmap. Within the interviews, prospects point out that by highlighting a company’s innovative nature they feel that the company will help them stay relevant in their marketplace.

Comparison to the competitive landscape

Current customers and prospective customers have first-hand experience with how a company stacks up against the competition on pricing and product positioning. Knowing what the competition does and does not do well is an important factor in effective pitch messaging. We often hear in Sales Win Loss interviews how a competing sales team failed to convey which benefits or features differentiated them from our client who won the deal. Additionally, decision-makers we have interviewed express appreciation when a company clearly shows them how their products and services work better for them than the competition is able to deliver. Research on the competitive landscape, their positioning, and offerings can be conducted if you are not already aware of how your organization is perceived in your marketplace.

Brand reputation and awareness

For many of the decision-makers we interview, “word of mouth” is noted as a top method used to identify potential partners to include within their consideration set. Therefore, any negative perception of a company’s offering or customer service can have an adverse impact on sales close rates. Colleagues and industry peers talk, so it is critical to build a reputation of providing a positive customer experience that potential prospects want to tell others about.

In conclusion, knowledge of key drivers influencing the decision-making process will allow your organization to fine-tune how the sales pitch and marketing materials are messaged. Therefore, conducting a Sales Win Loss Analysis can be an optimal way to identify common themes that are specific to your organization.

If you are interested in learning more about how to implement a high-impact Sales Win Loss program at your organization, contact us at [email protected].

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