bridge in fog

The Fog of Knowing

Stu Perlmeter

In life, when major events happen, we have a need to understand why. Clarity and crisp definition are satisfying, because we detest ambiguity. Clarity rules, even if the simple answer we come up with is flat wrong. Welcome to the world of humans.

But what if the “answer” is not flat wrong, but just isn’t helpful because it’s not insightful in a way that prepares us for similar events in the future? As specialists in Win-Loss Analysis, we look at a lot of recent opportunities, and have developed a trained eye and ear for the nuances that are both important and actionable.

What we see is that there’s a danger in holding onto partial truth; it obscures the deeper truth that lies beneath. This deeper truth doesn’t necessarily invalidate the initial understanding, but sometimes it does. The value of getting to the deeper truth is that it adds layers of subtlety and distinction that matter.

For example, in one instance we found that a recent win is quite unhappy with delivery, and absent an appropriate response, will switch providers at their first opportunity. Another win scenario showed a lot of profit left on the table – unnecessarily. We see a lot of “if only” scenarios, where if one element of client perception were different, it would have meant a win, as opposed to a loss.

So if this deeper truth is so valuable, why don’t we seek it out? Because it’s chocked full of unflattering things we would rather not confront; elements about us we don’t like and don’t want others to see.

But in this context of lost business opportunities – lost deals and defected clients, can we afford the luxury of protecting egos and sacred cows? One can argue that advancing the competitive posture of the organization trumps looking good or feeling good. It also trumps risking that underperforming silos will feel threatened when all this “unfiltered” voice of the customer is delivered.

The good news is that in the eyes of prospects and customers, the “ugly” gets spread around. Perceptions of competitors can be quite unflattering; perceptions we can and should do something about.

The surprising thing about a rigorous, introspective Win-Loss process is how much that emerges in a positive light. Certainly in the wins, but also in the losses, we learn a lot about what customers value and validating about us and the way we interact and deliver value to them.

Getting to this “good stuff” requires a major shift in thinking, and a willingness to hit the reset button about being introspective. It’s difficult and might feel awkward at first. But cutting through the fog beats driving all night in it. It’s only when we understand the buyer’s journey from their point-of-view that new doors of opportunity open for both Marketing and Sales. With that comes the promise of increased chances of winning the next one, and the one after.

About the Author

Stu Perlmeter

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Stu brings 30 years of marketing and research experience to 1st Resource, which he founded in 1996. Stu’s primary expertise is in understanding the market insights that tie to success formulas for companies seeking to grow their business in strategic ways.