For those sales professionals with more than a couple of quarters behind you, this might sound familiar. You lose a deal — one you thought you were going to win — and the postmortem begins. The sales rep, the pre-sales person, maybe a partner, and almost always a sales manager sit down around a table to work out what went wrong. The conversation usually goes something like this:
“They were always leaning toward the competition — I knew it from the start.”
”No, we definitely lost on price.”
”Lack of executive sponsorship, that’s what cost us.”
“I said it from day one: They were an immature buyer and our solution was too technical.”
The problem with these types of internal debriefs is they’re simply a navel-gazing exercise, designed to make everyone feel better about what just happened, with no real hope of flushing out the truth and, more often than not, no real desire to. Why? Because the people who know what actually happened — the folks who made the buying decision and signed on the line with someone else — aren’t in the room.
For the past seven years, my team and I have worked closely with sales leaders and sales teams all over the world to help uncover the “why” in their wins and losses. It’s not always easy, but executed correctly it can be an incredibly rewarding exercise for the vendor, offering unfiltered and candid feedback from customers as to what really happened at decision time.
So how do we do it and how can you harness the power of win-loss analysis in your own sales cycles? Here are a few things to keep in mind, when you start hunting for the truth of why you’re winning — or losing — deals.